Reykholt / Husafell, West Region (Vesturland), Iceland

About Barnafoss

Hiking Distance: 500m round trip
Suggested Time: 20-30 minutes

Date first visited: 2007-06-23
Date last visited: 2007-06-23

Waterfall Latitude: 64.70195
Waterfall Longitude: -20.97216

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Barnafoss was really more of a series of rapids on the Hvítá River (not to be confused with the river by the same name responsible for Gullfoss).

The river was forced through a narrow rocky chute that apparently once had a natural bridge spanning across it.

Barnafoss_019_06232007 - Barnafoss

The meaning of this waterfall translates into “Children’s waterfall”, but the signs here indicated that there was a saga describing how it got this name.

The Barnafoss Saga

The saga said that there were two children in the Hraunsás household who were supposed to stay home while the parents went to church for Christmas Mass.

When the parents returned from mass, they discovered that the children had disappeared (possibly because the children got bored and decided to go out).

They then followed the children’s tracks to this waterfall at the stone natural bridge where the tracks disappeared.

The mother concluded that the children must have fallen into the river and drowned.

Barnafoss_004_06232007 - Barnafoss rushing beneath one of the natural bridges spanning an old lava flow
Barnafoss rushing beneath one of the natural bridges spanning an old lava flow

Then, the mother had the arch destroyed in order to ensure no one else faces a similar fate.

I’ve seen some accounts say it was by spell or curse, which induced the bridge’s collapse by earthquake.

The Barnafoss Experience

In reality, natural bridges usually collapse over time, and given the powerful erosive forces from the rapidly moving river that undercut whatever was supporting the bridge, that could very well have been the fate of the natural arch here.

We did a little bit of a walk to reach this rapids flanked by lava walls and rocks.

Even though the obvious natural bridge had already collapsed, it looked like there was still another one near the level of the river.

I’m not sure whether it was the same bridge that had fallen or a different one, but it was intriguing nonetheless.

The walk probably takes less than 20-30 minutes round trip.


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

Barnafoss_002_06232007 - Our first look at Barnafoss.  Is that another natural bridge down there?
Barnafoss_005_06232007 - A more direct look at Barnafoss and what appeared to be a natural bridge
Barnafoss_011_06232007 - A different angled view of Barnafoss so we could clearly see that both sides of the rock were definitely attached to the walls so it was indeed a natural bridge
Barnafoss_014_06232007 - Another more angled look at the natural bridge that we spotted at Barnafoss
Hraunfossar_004_jx_06232007 - Another look at the natural bridge at Barnafoss

Barnafoss is in the same area as Hraunfossar.

See that page for specific driving directions.

For context, this falls was about 119km (90 minutes drive) north of Reykjavik.

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Looking at the turbulent river squeeze between the lava rocks. It looks like there might be a natural bridge down there, too!

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Tagged with: reykholt, husafell, west region, iceland, waterfall, reykjavik, barnafoss, saga, arch, bridge

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