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Studlagil Canyon: The Ultimate Traveler's Guide

Welcome to Studlagil Canyon, Iceland's hidden gem, where nature's artistry is fully displayed. Have you ever wondered what secrets lie within the heart of a canyon carved by time and elements?

In this guide, we'll unravel the mysteries of Studlagil Canyon, from its captivating history to its striking geology. Join us as we explore this magnificent geological formation, where each basalt column tells a story of ancient eruptions and flowing rivers.

Prepare to be informed, inspired, and awed as we journey through one of Iceland's most breathtaking landscapes, a testament to nature's enduring splendor.

Studlagil Canyon

What is the History of Studlagil Canyon?

Studlagil Canyon, a giant basalt canyon in Iceland, has a fascinating history that has stayed hidden for centuries. Once submerged under the River Jökla, the canyon's breathtaking basalt cliffs were concealed until a significant change occurred.

The construction of the Kárahnjúkar Dam in 2009 for the Karahnjukavirkjun Hydroelectric Plant led to the creation of the Halslon Reservoir. Consequently, much of the River Jökla was diverted into the reservoir.

Despite the controversy surrounding this project among environmentalists, it resulted in a drastic decrease in the river level, revealing the stunning features of Studlagil Canyon. It remained unknown until 2016, when its mesmerizing beauty was discovered by a group of sheepherders, forever changing our understanding of Iceland's diverse landscapes.

Studlagil iceland

What is the Geology of Studlagil Canyon?

Studlagil in Iceland is a geological masterpiece, showcasing a fascinating array of rocks and minerals. The most striking feature of Studlagil Canyon is its distinctive basalt columns, towering structures that create a mesmerizing pattern across the canyon walls.

These columns formed from the cooling and crystallization of lava, a process that occurred over thousands of years. The uniformity and symmetry of these basalt formations are a rare sight, making Studlagil Canyon a unique geological phenomenon in Iceland.

Compared to other Icelandic landscapes, Studlagil stands out for its dense concentration of basalt columns, differing from the more varied rock formations in places like Thingvellir or the Reynisfjara beach.

Basalt columns studlagil

What are Some Curiosities About Studlagil Canyon?

Studlagil Basalt Canyon is a place of captivating curiosities that never fail to enchant its visitors. Here are a few intriguing facts about this geological marvel you did know:

  • Majestic Basalt Columns: Flanking both sides of the river are basalt columns that soar up to 20 to 30 meters (66 to 98 feet) high, showcasing some of the most awe-inspiring basalt columns in Iceland.

  • Impressive Length: The canyon extends for an impressive 500 meters (1,640 feet), offering a vast and captivating landscape to explore.

  • Largest On-Land Column Formations: Believed to house the most extensive on-land column formations of this type in Iceland, Studlagil stands out in its geological significance.

  • Striking Color Contrast: The turquoise waters of the canyon create a stunning contrast against the dark, towering basalt formations, offering a picturesque and unique visual experience.

  • Rich Biodiversity: Surrounding Studlagil Canyon has diverse fauna and flora, enhancing the region's natural beauty.

  • Hiking and Viewpoints: The canyon is surrounded by numerous hiking trails and magnificent viewpoints, making it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and adventurers.

What is the geology of Studlagil Canyon?

How Long is the Hike to Studlagil Canyon?

The hike to Studlagil Canyon is a beautiful journey that takes you through striking landscapes. The total distance of the hike is approximately 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) one-way, with an estimated duration of about 45 minutes, depending on your pace.

However, if you choose to start closer to the canyon, the duration is reduced to roughly 30 minutes. This includes pauses to enjoy sights like the enchanting Studlafoss Waterfall. The trail is positioned only on the east side of the canyon and consists of a fairly level gravel path, requiring sturdy hiking shoes for a comfortable trek.

While the hike is generally considered easy and suitable for families, the distance may pose a challenge for young children and the elderly.

Tip: For those seeking a shorter route, consider parking at the furthest parking lot and starting the hike from there.

Hike to Studlagil Canyon

How do You Get to Studlagil Canyon?

Reaching Studlagil Basalt Canyon, a stunning natural attraction in Iceland, is a journey filled with scenic beauty. From Reykjavik, the drive is approximately 600 kilometers (373 miles), taking around 7.5 hours.

Starting from Akureyri, the trip is shorter, about 2.5 hours over a distance of 213 kilometers (133 miles). The best way to experience this journey is by renting a car in Iceland, offering the freedom to explore at your own pace, a significant advantage over public transport or guided tours.

For precise navigation, use the GPS coordinates: 65.1635°N, 15.3073°W. These coordinates lead directly to Studlagil Canyon. When driving in Iceland, it's essential to use a reliable GPS system and check road conditions, especially in winter months. Plan your route with occasional rest stops and fuel refills, as services are limited in remote areas.

Get to Studlagil Canyon

Can You Swim in Studlagil Canyon?

Well, despite the allure of the breathtakingly turquoise waters of Studlagil Canyon, the answer to swimming there is a resounding 'No.' Diving into those sub-arctic temperatures might sound like a heroic tale for the grandkids, but it's neither recommended nor permitted due to safety concerns.

And let's face it, with the canyon's depth and unpredictable currents, you'd need more than just courage and a pool noodle! Fear not, though, as the surrounding area is a treasure trove of aquatic delights. For a warm and relaxing dip, head to the famous Vök Baths, located about an hour's drive from the canyon.

These geothermal pools offer a soothing and scenic soak, perfect for unwinding after a day of exploring. So, while Studlagil Canyon is a feast for the eyes only, nearby attractions like the Vök Baths ensure your Icelandic adventure still includes some splash, warmth, and relaxation.

Swimming at studlagil

What Other Attractions Are Around Studlagil Canyon?

Studlagil Canyon is surrounded by several other attractions in Iceland, making it a great hub for exploration:

  • Hengifoss Waterfall: Just a short drive away, Hengifoss is one of Iceland's highest waterfalls, known for its striking red clay and basaltic layers. A hike to the waterfall offers breathtaking views and a glimpse into Iceland's geological past.

  • Egilsstaðir Town: Nearby Egilsstaðir, the largest town in East Iceland, offers a blend of urban amenities and cultural experiences, including local cuisine, museums, and cozy accommodations.

  • Hallormsstaðaskógur Forest: As Iceland's largest forest, it provides a stark contrast to the country's typical volcanic landscapes. It's a haven for hiking, bird watching, and enjoying the tranquility of nature.

  • Vatnajökull National Park: A bit further afield, Vatnajökull National Park encompasses a vast area with diverse landscapes, including part of the Vatnajökull glacier, offering opportunities for glacier hikes and ice cave explorations.

  • Seyðisfjörður Village: A picturesque and artistic village known for its colorful wooden houses and vibrant cultural scene, including music and arts festivals.

hengifoss waterfall

How Can You Prepare for a Trip to Studlagil Canyon?

Before embarking on an adventure to Studlagil Basalt Canyon, consider the following tips to ensure a comfortable and safe journey:

  • Local Weather Conditions: Icelandic weather can be quite changeable with sudden rain showers. Check the local forecast regularly and be prepared with rain gear.

  • Essential Gear and Clothing: Pack sturdy hiking shoes for rocky terrains and warm, waterproof clothing to protect against unpredictable weather conditions. Don't forget a camera to capture the stunning scenery.

  • Nearby Facilities and Amenities: Studlagil Canyon does have restroom facilities, but they are only available on the west side of the canyon.

What to Expect from Your Visit to Studlagil Canyon

Your visit to Studlagil Canyon will be nothing short of a visual feast, akin to stepping into a painting where nature has wielded its brush in strokes of grandeur. Imagine standing at the canyon's edge, watching the sunlight dance on the turquoise waters like a ballet of shimmering gems. Can there be a sight more enchanting?

No photo or description can truly capture the majesty of this natural spectacle. So, why not experience this breathtaking beauty firsthand? Pack your bags, set your GPS, and embark on an unforgettable journey to Studlagil Canyon. Discover the magic that awaits in Iceland's hidden gem.



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