It is often said that there isn’t much in this northwest corner of Iceland, but Kolugljúfur and Kolufoss can easily disprove that. Kolugljúfur is a small but beautiful Canyon, with an equally beautiful waterfall, Kolufoss.
Kolufoss, although relatively small, is a mighty waterfall.
This is a highly recommended stop for a short walk when driving across from the north of Iceland to the south or vice-versa.
Located in Kolugil, the Víðidalsá River in Víðidalur crosses the Kolugljúfur canyon and forms a few beautiful waterfalls along the way.
Although not directly located on the ring road, the visit to Kolugljúfur and Kolufoss won’t; take more than half an hour. So definitely a location to stop at.
Overview of the Kolugljúfur and Kolufoss Hike & Map
This was a short walk. it could not be otherwise when I visited due to snow and ice on the trails.
Here is a map of this walk, to give you an idea of the location:
How to get to Kolugljúfur and Kolufoss and Parking
Although Kolugljúfur is not directly located on the ring road, it’s just a short detour. It takes about 5 minutes each way by car, from the ring road.
- Driving Directions: From the ring road, turn into road Number 715, Víðidalsvegur. The road is partly gravel, but you do not need a 4WD car. 2WD is perfectly fine.
- Parking: parking spots are limited, but free. You can park on either side of the canyon. Even if parking spots are full, this is a quick stop, so even if it is full, you can likely wait just five minutes for someone to leave.
- Public Transport: if you don’t have a car, you can also visit this location by bus. Bus 57, running between Akureyri and Reykjavik, stops at Víðigerði. From there, it’s a 15-minute walk.
View from the Observation deck into the Canyon
The Kolugljúfur and Kolufoss Trail and Observation deck
This is a short walk and there are a few vantage points you can walk to. First and foremost, the bridge provides a great viewpoint of the first waterfall.
From there you can walk down closer to the waterfall, but be careful to not get too close to it. It can be wet and slippery.
With Ice and snow, it could be dangerous to walk part this point.
You will find the main observation right by the bridge. There, you will also find an observation deck that gives you a good view of the canyon and the waterfall.
You should be able to walk further down the canyon as well to get a better view of it and the second waterfall. I was unable to do so on my trip due to snow. It was not safe to walk any further down that way. This applies to both sides of the canyon.
Kolugljúfur and Kolufoss Photos and Photography tips
I think Kolufoss is a very photogenic location, so I’m not sure why it isn’t more widely known or visited by most landscape photographers. It should also get decent natural lighting conditions for the most of the day. Or, at least from mid-late morning until afternoon since the waterfall and the canyon are south-facing. Because of this, it should especially be food for sunset/sunrise in summer.
The bridge across the canyon does provide a good view of Kolufoss, but that’s the only thing about it. Needless to say, the bridge is a rather disturbing element and hard to include in the photos in any compelling way. Sometimes bridges are good or even great in landscape photography, but this one hardly is.
So, you’d have a fun time looking for the best compositions to minimize its impact :). However, you can easily walk under it and get to a much closer viewpoint. Almost scary close!
Where to stay
Not much in the immediate vicinities but there are plenty of accommodations or guesthouses along the roal ring road to find some guesthouses or hotels. Most notably, the North West Hotel and Restaurant is just by the bus stop and a 5-minute drive away.
- Nearby: not much very close, but as you have to drive back to the ring road anyway, you may want to check out Hvítserkur, a bizarre and beautiful rock formation.
- Other Canyons in Iceland; do not miss the Fjaðrárgljúfur and Múlagljúfur Canyons.
- Check out more Photo Hikes in Iceland here.
- Discover the best hiking books and guides on Iceland.
Car or Camper Van Rentals
I can definitely recommend two companies here:
- Cars: Blue Car Rental, (5% discount booking through The Photo Hikes) which is the largest Car rental company in Iceland, and for good reasons. Free Cancellation, Unlimited mileage, 24-hour breakdown assistance, SCDW, CDW, TP, and GP insurance are included in the price. Blue Car Rental is also located within walking distance of the Keflavik Airport, so you can be on your way to explore Iceland right away. I’ve always been happy with my rentals there, which is why I’m happy to recommend their services here on my blog.
- Camper Vans: CampEasy. With CampEasy, you can rent 2WD or 4×4 campers alike. With a raised Chassis, larger tires, and extra insurance with reduced liability for river crossing, their 4X4 campers are the best choice for your trip into the Highlands. Their Website also provides extensive information about roads you can take and instructions on river crossings. Perfect choice for a hiking holiday in the highlands!
These are my two favorite companies in each respective rental area, which I why I am happy to recommend both here. If you also like this blog, booking through them is a great way to support it. I’ll get a small commission fee at no additional cost, so you can essentially support the running costs of this blog for free too.