The Sigöldugljúfur Canyon, The Valley of Tears

The Sigöldugljúfur Canyon, also known as the Valley of Tears, is a Canyon surrounded by a fantastic series of waterfalls seemingly stemming from nowhere. This is because the water runs underground below a layer of solidified lava and drops straight into the canyon below.

Sigöldugljúfur canyon and its turquoise waters viewed from a drone

A bit of a fun fact: This canyon exists because of the dammed Krókslón reservoir. Water from the reservoir permeates the layers of lava in the area. The water then re-emerges by the Canyon walls. Hence, without the Dam, the canyon will mostly be filled with water and the waterfalls would be completely submerged too.

If you are heading to Landmannalaugar or visiting a nearby attraction like Haifoss, this is a great stop to include in your itinerary. The hike is less than two km long, so it would take most people about half an hour/45 minutes.


Table of Contents

Overview of the Hike

This is more of a walk or a short hike, just over a mile long. It is suitable for all skills level. Beware, it may be slippery or muddy in places if it recently rained.

Max Altitude  535 m
Distance  1,86 KM
Elevation gain   50↑ / 50↓
Hike time  00:30/00:45 Hours
Hike Difficulty  Easy

How to Get to the Sigöldugljúfur Canyon and Parking

Technically, the drive to the Sigöldugljúfur Canyon does not require an f-road car. The trailhead is located along Fjallabaksleið nyrðri, or road f208 north, which no longer is an f-road. So do you need a 4X4 or AWD car to get to Sigöldugljúfur? Technically no; you could drive a 2wd car up to the parking area and leave the car there. If you are looking for car rental options, I can definitely recommend Blue Car Rental for cars and CampEasy for Camper Vans.

However, a couple of things should be considered. First of all, check with your rental company if you are allowed to drive three. Second of all, the road is still very rough. Rental insurance usually does not cover damage to the undercarriage and usually does not cover damages caused by gravel to the bodywork or the glass parts either. So make sure you have adequate insurance to be on the safe side.

  • Driving Directions: if you are coming from Reykjavik, you would have to drive to Raod F26 and keep following it past the Hrauneyarhighlands centre. From there, keep following the signs to Landmannalaugar. You will drive past a Hydroelectric power plant where the road turns rough. It’s only about a five minutes drive to the parking from here.
  • Parking: When you cross the first big hill on Fjallabaksleið nyrðri, you will see a wide parking area to your right. Leave the car there.
  • Public Transport: No public transportation option exists unless you join a group or private tour.
The Sigoldugljufur canyon

The Sigoldugljufur Canyon in late spring.

The Sigöldugljúfur Canyon Trail

From the parking area, you would need to cross the dirt road and head straight into what remains of another old dirt road. Keep following it downhill. The Canyon is not immediately visible but fear not; it will reveal itself once you’re almost on top of it. It’s possible to walk around the canyon’s edge but be careful not to get too close as the rock may be friable in some places.

The Sigöldugljúfur Canyon Photos and Photography tips

This is a stunning location, no doubt. Photographically speaking, the canyon itself is very photogenic. However, there are a couple of limitations that will require some additional creativity or luck to get the best out of this location.

  • Background: there isn’t much of an interesting background to the Canyon and the Waterfalls. Sure, the Canyon is beautiful, but there is nothing behind it to complement the view. To overcome this, you could wait for some interesting clouds or light to fill the frame.
  • Composition: here as well, there is little to choose from. There are a few good spots along the rim of the canyon, with good foreground, but the composition will be essentially the same apart from that. A drone may help with that, however.

A good solution may be visiting in the weeks around the Summer Solstice. During that time, sunsets are very long in Iceland because of its latitude. Hence, this may give you more chances of catching a good sunset or Sunrise.

In terms of lenses, you will need a wide lens, but not an ultra-wide or the Canyon and the Waterfalls will look too small. A lens 18mm and above will be good enough; ideally, I’d recommend 24mm for most cases and compositions.

Lastly, you can fly a drone here – assuming you comply with any other local regulations. Check my post on Flying drones in Iceland for more info.

Iceland Canyon with waterfalls on the Side

Drone Photo

Drone photo of a canyon in Iceland, DJI magic Air 2 Iceland

Another Drone Shot, with human figure for scale

The Sigöldugljúfur Canyon, or the Valley of tears in Iceland

24mm photo of the waterfalls in the Canyon

Blue waters of a canyon with waterfalls in the highlands of Iceland

A top-down view of the Canyon

Video of the Sigöldugljúfur Canyon

Here’s a short drone video from this location:

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Map of the Sigöldugljúfur Canyon Hike

Here’s the map of this hike. You can download the GPS file from the Komoot activity. You could you it to get to the trailhead, should you need to.

Where to stay

This location is in limbo between the Highlands and the country’s southern region. So the options are either camping or Huts in the highlands, or the only accommodation available is the Highland Centre Hrauneyar on Road 26.

Additional Resources