The Rauðfoss and Rauðauga Hike
The hike to Rauðfoss and Rauðauga is one of those that only Iceland can offer. An otherworldly beautiful location that is actually on earth. A red waterfall, a red river and its source, which is a red pond called the “red eye”. Yeah, only in Iceland :)!
The first attraction you will come across on the trail is Rauðfoss. The name literally translates into the red waterfall, a 60m tall waterfall, colored red due to the composition of the water. Rich in iron, the water from the source Rauðauga, the red eye, has coloured the whole waterfall and riverbed in “rusty” red.
Rauðfoss and its typical “rusty red” color. Wait till you see the river!
The second attraction is the river itself. It is called Rauðufossakvísl, and from Rauðfoss onward, most of the hike is along its banks. The river bears the same incredible colour as the waterfall and its sources. So there’s plenty of beautiful landscape to look at on the trail.
The trail ends at Rauðauga, “the red eye”, which is the source of the river and the third attraction on the trail. It is literally like a red eye popping out of the ground. Undoubtedly, an impressive natural feature.
This hike can be done in half a day, so you could easily add it to your itinerary if you are in the area. Additionally, this is still a bit of a hidden gem, so take great care and stay within the marked trail.
Rauðufossakvísl, the river. Wait till you see its source :)!
The Rauðfoss and Rauðauga Hike – Table of Contents
Overview of the Rauðfoss and Rauðauga Hike
The hike referenced in the table below includes both Rauðfoss and Rauðauga. If you only want to hike to Rauðfoss, the roundtrip is about 4KM on mostly flat ground.
Some of the beautiful landscapes along the Rauðfoss and Rauðauga trail
How to Get to Rauðfoss and Rauðauga
- Driving Directions: located in the highlands of Iceland, you will need an AWD or 4X4 vehicle suitable for the highlands. If you are coming from the f-225 south, there are no rivers to cross. However, if you are coming from the north (Landmannalaugar or road 208 north), you will have to cross a couple of rivers. Not recommended if you have no experience crossing rivers in cars but, on the other hand, the road is easy enough from the south. If you are looking for car rental options, I can definitely recommend Blue Car Rental for cars and CampEasy for Camper Vans.
- Parking: there is a parking area at the trailhead. It is small, so it pays off to be on-site early in the morning. Or late in the evening. The Parking area is not visible from the road. You would need to keep an eye out for a sign pointing to “Krakatindur“. Turn there. The Parking area is just a couple of minutes away.
- Public Transport: none is available to this location, but you could hire a local guide or join a private tour.
The typical Icelandic Highlands landscape surrounds the whole area.
The Rauðfoss and Rauðauga Hiking Trail & Photos
The trail starts at the parking area. The site is part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, and needless to say, the greatest care should be taken not to damage the vegetation around the trail.
The first part of the trail leading to Rauðfoss is relatively flat and easy. In about half an hour, you should be able to reach the waterfall. There is a viewing platform where you can sit and enjoy the view. The waterfall is 60 m tall and much bigger than it looks in photos. It is an impressive sight.
The trail continues from there up the side of the hill to the top of the waterfall. Then, it keeps following the Rauðufossakvísl river upstream.
The trail is mostly flat, with no real challenges or difficult passages. Before you realise it, you will reach the beautiful Rauðauga. The trail ends there, but you will want to spend some time here looking at this beautiful location and enjoying the scenery!
Part of the trail leading to Rauðauga.
Can you see the “little” hiker on the top right?
The Rauðufossakvísl and the trail, partially covered in snow (August 2022).
One of the many beautiful geological features along the hiking trail.
Another red waterfall, just below the source of the Rauðufossakvísl river, Rauðauga
Detail of the Rauðufossakvísl river.
Rauðauga, the source of it all!
Rauðauga, the source of Rauðfoss, in all of its colourful beauty!
Video of the Hike
Here is a short video I made when hiking to this location. Check it out if you want to get a feel for the trail. No commentary, just the trail, the beautiful landscape and some music.
Map of the Rauðfoss and Rauðauga Hike
Here is the map of the hike. All in all, the trail is easy enough to follow. If you want the GPX file, you can download it from the Komoot activity below:
Where to stay
This location is in the Highlands of Iceland, and if you have never been there, facilities in the area are basic. However, that’s also part of the beauty of this area.
Car or Camper Van Rentals
I can definitely recommend two companies here:
- Cars: Blue Car Rental, which is the largest Car rental company in Iceland, and for good reasons. Free Cancellation, Unlimited mileage, 24-hour break 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.