Sprengisandur, Northeast Region (Norðurland eystra), Iceland

About Aldeyjarfoss

Hiking Distance: 700m round trip
Suggested Time: about 30 minutes

Date first visited: 2007-06-28
Date last visited: 2021-08-12

Waterfall Latitude: 65.36647
Waterfall Longitude: -17.33689

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Aldeyjarfoss seemed like it was a bit out of the way to reach, but once we saw it gushing amongst ancient lavafields and basalt columns, we felt it was worth the trouble.

The basalt columns (similar to what we saw in Svartifoss though not as pronounced) and the powdery blue color of the water attest to the glacial origins of the watercourse as well as the familiar interplay of fire and ice.

Aldeyjarfoss_012_06282007 - Aldeyjarfoss

Despite the modest 20m height of the waterfall, all of these factors added to the drama of the landscape.

This waterfall belonged to the river Skjálfandafljót (like Goðafoss and Geitafoss) on the northern end of the Sprengisandur 4wd road (F26).

We didn’t do the whole road through the desolate interior of Iceland, but even just making it out to the falls provided a glimpse of the scenery that was to come had we proceeded further.

In fact, it seemed like most of the effort was just driving here as the walk amongst the desolate moonscape of the Icelandic Interior was only about 10-15 minutes each way.

Aldeyjarfoss_001_06282007 - The trail descending closer to the view opposite Aldeyjarfoss
The trail descending closer to the view opposite Aldeyjarfoss

The walk was on a pretty well-defined dirt trail as it gently descended to a precarious lookout area on lava cliffs directly opposite the waterfall’s turbulent plunge pool.

The rugged landscape was the result of a large waterflow on Skjálfandafljót cutting through the Suðurárhraun lava field and carving a gorge through it.

We were content with the views we were able to get of the falls though we probably could have scrambled a little more around the plunge pool for different angles and perspectives of the falls.

Given the remote and rugged location of Aldeyjarfoss, we found ourselves pretty much alone each time we’ve come here – once in late June 2007 and another in August 2021.

Aldeyjarfoss_003_06282007 - Looking downstream from Aldeyjarfoss at the Skjálfandafljót
Looking downstream from Aldeyjarfoss at the Skjálfandafljót

On our first visit, we were eventually joined by a club of SUV-drivers (that actually blocked us in just as we were leaving), which gives you an idea of the type of vehicle needed to use the F26 Sprengisandur Road.

When we came back 14 years later, we actually had to contend with fog practically covering up the waterfall and really cutting our visit short.

Nevertheless, even though Aldeyjarfoss was situated at the northernmost extreme of the F26, we didn’t have to face any of the infamous F road obstacles like unbridged river crossings or crawling over boulder fields.


Aldeyjarfoss resides in the Northeast Region near Akureyri, Iceland. It is administered by the municipality of Þingeyjarsveit. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting their website.

Aldeyjarfoss_005_iPhone_08122021 - Most of the Aldeyjarfoss adventure involved extensive driving on the unpaved 842 Road
Aldeyjarfoss_022_iPhone_08122021 - There were lots of sheep running across the 842 Road so we had to be careful even though we were already needing to be careful about gunning it on a gravel road
Aldeyjarfoss_009_iPhone_08122021 - This was how the gate looked like at the turnoff leaving the 842 Road for the F26 en route to Aldeyjarfoss as seen in August 2021
Aldeyjarfoss_010_iPhone_08122021 - Of course, these gates are to keep livestock from running off so the landowners kindly ask that you close the gate once you're done going through it
Aldeyjarfoss_014_iPhone_08122021 - The Sprengisandur Road F26 can be a bit on the rough and bumpy side, but I'd argue that even 2wd vehicles could make it as long as they were careful and they don't run into bad luck with flat tires
Aldeyjarfoss_002_08122021 - Finally making it to the car park for Aldeyjarfoss, which looked considerably wider and more developed during our August 2021 visit than the smaller parking space we encountered in late June 2007
Aldeyjarfoss_004_08122021 - Mom on the trail leading down to Aldeyjarfoss, but we had to contend with fog during our August 2021 visit
Aldeyjarfoss_005_08122021 - Mom continuing to descend into the fog that conspired to really curtail our August 2021 visit to Aldeyjarfoss
Aldeyjarfoss_006_08122021 - Still descending on the trail leading to the Aldeyjarfoss on our August 2021 visit
Aldeyjarfoss_007_08122021 - Looking down across another intermediate waterfall on the Skjálfandafljót River on the way to Aldeyjarfoss on a foggy day in August 2021
Aldeyjarfoss_010_08122021 - As you can see, the fog really impacted our Aldeyjarfoss experience during our August 2021  visit
Aldeyjarfoss_011_08122021 - Context of Mom on the trail as it continued to descend into the obscuring fog on the way to Aldeyjarfoss in August 2021
Aldeyjarfoss_014_08122021 - Mom approaching some kind of rope barricade that might have been knocked down by the weather near Aldeyjarfoss in August 2021
Aldeyjarfoss_016_08122021 - Our first look at Aldeyjarfoss in 14 years where the fog mercifully didn't totally obscure the experience during our August 2021 visit
Aldeyjarfoss_021_08122021 - Looking at the context of a neighboring spring tumbling parallel to the Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall
Aldeyjarfoss_029_08122021 - Broad look at some of the hinting foreground cliffs opposite the Aldeyjarfoss as seen in August 2021
Aldeyjarfoss_031_08122021 - Looking across a spring towards the Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall, which made me realize that it was probably possible to scramble closer to the top of the waterfall had we experienced better weather on our August 2021 visit
Aldeyjarfoss_041_08122021 - Context of Mom checking out Aldeyjarfoss in the fog during our August 2021 visit
Aldeyjarfoss_044_08122021 - Mom going back up to the car park after having had her fill of Aldeyjarfoss in August 2021
Aldeyjarfoss_045_08122021 - Mom continuing up the hill on the way back to the car park for Aldeyjarfoss, which gives you an idea of how much descending we had to do to get there
Aldeyjarfoss_046_08122021 - Mom still making her way back up to the car park for Aldeyjarfoss as the fog seemed to be getting worse during our August 2021 visit
Aldeyjarfoss_048_08122021 - Mom returning to the car park for Aldeyjarfoss where the fog really covered it up and confirmed that indeed the fog did get worse during our short visit in August 2021
Aldeyjarfoss_001_jx_06282007 - This was the gate (as we saw it in late June 2007) where I had to leave the car to open the gate, get back in the car to drive through it, then leave the car to close the gate before I got back in the car to drive again
Aldeyjarfoss_051_06282007 - Looking down towards Aldeyjarfoss as we were starting the descent to that flat area across from the falls as seen on our first visit in late June 2007
Aldeyjarfoss_007_06282007 - Direct look right at the gushing Aldeyjarfoss in late June 2007
Aldeyjarfoss_033_06282007 - Julie checking out Aldeyjarfoss
Aldeyjarfoss_052_06282007 - We noticed this waterfall across the Skjálfandafljót after we left Aldeyjarfoss and headed to Goðafoss during our late June 2007 visit

Aldeyjarfoss was further inland from the easy-to-spot Goðafoss Waterfall.

They key was to take the signed 842 road just 1.2km west of the road bridge over the Skjálfandafljót River.

Aldeyjarfoss_006_jx_06282007 - Approaching the gate marking the end of the Road 842 and the start of the Sprengisandur Road F26
Approaching the gate marking the end of the Road 842 and the start of the Sprengisandur Road F26

From there, we then drove on the extensive unpaved gravel road for about 37km to its junction with the F26 (Sprengisandur Road).

Right at the junction, we were greeted with a pair of gates where for each gate, we had to get out of the car to open it, then get back into the car to drive through, and then finally get back out of the car to close it.

Once beyond the gates, the F26 Road became noticeably rougher, but it wasn’t as scary as most of the F Roads can be, and even the crossing over the Skjálfandafljót River was bridged.

Eventually after 3.3km on the F26 Road, we eventually reached the signed turnoff for the Aldeyjarfoss car park.

Aldeyjarfoss_020_iPhone_08122021 - Although the drive to Aldeyjarfoss involved going on part of the F26 Sprengisandur Road, it didn't require driving through an unbridged river crossing as you can see here
Although the drive to Aldeyjarfoss involved going on part of the F26 Sprengisandur Road, it didn’t require driving through an unbridged river crossing as you can see here

For geographical context, the nearest town was Laugar, which was 47km (over 30 minutes drive) east of Akureyri, 36km (about 30 minutes) west of Reykjahlið, 201km (about 2.5 hours drive) west of Egilsstaðir, and 434km (over 5 hours drive) northeast of Reykjavík.

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Semi-circular sweep encompassing the falls and a neighboring falls as seen from a precarious bluff

Left to right sweep from the corner of the rock protrusions before zooming in and panning across the flow of water

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Tagged with: sprengisandur, godafoss, skjalfandafljot, myvatn, reykjahlid, akureyri, northeast region, nordurland eystra, iceland, waterfall

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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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