Dettifoss

Vatnajokull National Park (formerly Jokulsargljufur National Park), Northeast Region (Norðurland eystra), Iceland

About Dettifoss


Hiking Distance: 1.5km round trip (east side); about 3km total (west side)
Suggested Time: allow at least 60 minutes

Date first visited: 2007-06-28
Date last visited: 2021-08-13

Waterfall Latitude: 65.81447
Waterfall Longitude: -16.3844

Waterfaller Newsletter

Get over the hump of the mid-week blues! Subscribe and get exclusive curated content delivered to your inbox every Wednesday.

Dettifoss definitely blew us away with its sheer size and power when we first looked at it in June 2007, but its flow actually grew when we came back 14 years later!

Perhaps a waterfall so wild and fierce was befitting of an area that just screamed natural and raw, and even my Icelandic dictionary said að detta meant “to fall or tumble”.

Dettifoss_179_06292007 - Dettifoss
Dettifoss

It flowed on the glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum (“YUK-ul-sou ow FYUHT-lum”), which came from the melting Vatnajökull Glacier.

The river meandered through Iceland‘s version of the Grand Canyon called Jökulsárgljúfur (“YUK-ul-sour-glyoo-fur”), which literally means “glacial river canyon”.

And to back up our adjectives, we’ve learned that this falls was said to have a mean flow of nearly 200 cubic meters per second (typically 400-500 cubic meters per second in late Summer), with dimensions of 44m tall and 100m wide.

Add it all up and we witnessed a monster that was quite possibly Europe‘s largest and most powerful waterfall (let alone Iceland’s biggest).

Dettifoss_015_06292007 - The milky white Jökulsá á Fjöllum about to rush over the brink of Dettifoss
The milky white Jökulsá á Fjöllum about to rush over the brink of Dettifoss

Further adding to the visual splendor of Dettifoss, it had a milky color, which was the direct result of the massive river carrying glacial flour along with other sediments along its northbound journey.

Jökulsá á Fjöllum was unregulated and protected as part of the Vatnajökull National Park, which was previously known as Jökulsárgljúfur National Park or Jökulsárgljúfur þjóðgarður.

The park made its big expansion months after our trip in 2007 when it merged with Skaftafell National Park on the southeast side of Iceland.

Given the wild nature of the falls, its rate of erosion (and therefore its propensity to move further upstream) was very high.

Dettifoss_005_08122021 - Context of the Dettifoss before descending towards its brink from the east side. The mist from Selfoss can barely be seen in the topleft of this photo
Context of the Dettifoss before descending towards its brink from the east side. The mist from Selfoss can barely be seen in the topleft of this photo

Back when they didn’t have roped barricades (or not nearly as many as on our second visit in 2021), we used to get so close to the edge that we swore the ground was trembling beneath our feet!

On each of our visits to Dettifoss, we managed to experience it from both sides of the river – each quite different in their own way.

As if that wasn’t enough, we also found it rewarding to extend our visit by going further upstream to the Selfoss Waterfall, which we have a separate write-up for.

More ambitious visitors trying to avoid the crowds may consider taking a much longer trail in the opposite direction to Hafragilsfoss, which also has a separate write-up.

Comparing the West Versus East Sides of Dettifoss

Dettifoss_West_070_08132021 - Top down view of Julie and Tahia getting close to the cliff edge before Dettifoss from its west bank
Top down view of Julie and Tahia getting close to the cliff edge before Dettifoss from its west bank

When we first visited Dettifoss in late June 2007, experiencing it from the west side was actually a bit of an adventure.

This was because the access road to get there (see directions below) used to be an “F” road (or mountain road), which were typically for 4wd or high clearance vehicles only.

In fact, it felt like the the west side was actually the less-preferred side since the road to the east side was less rough (though still unpaved).

Thus, we found the east side was the side that had the tour buses and the greater visitation during our first visit.

Dettifoss_181_08122021 - Context of people looking at most of Selfoss from the east bank
Context of people looking at most of Selfoss from the east bank

However, when we came back in August 2021, we were quite surprised at how the former F road was now paved while supporting large tour buses and easily accommodating of passenger vehicles.

I suspect that the main driver of this drastic change was for the tourism authorities in the north of Iceland to create an answer to the success of the Golden Circle Route in the southwest.

Indeed, they’ve actually created the so-called Diamond Circle, which encompassed a circular route anchored from Akureyri (the second largest Icelandic city behind Reykjavík).

Dettifoss and the Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon sat on the far eastern end of the circular route, which included Goðafoss, Mývatn, the thermal features at Námafjall, Ásbyrgí, and Húsavik among others.

Dettifoss_001_06282007 - Near the car park on the west bank, we had a choice of walking closer to Selfoss or getting to the west side of Dettifoss from within the stretch of rocky moonscape. This photo was taken in late June 2007 when the west side was way less crowded and harder to get to
Near the car park on the west bank, we had a choice of walking closer to Selfoss or getting to the west side of Dettifoss from within the stretch of rocky moonscape. This photo was taken in late June 2007 when the west side was way less crowded and harder to get to

As a result of these changes that took place after our 2007 visit, we noticed that the west bank was now the more popular side (by a wide margin).

Nevertheless, regardless of what side gets more of the tourism traffic, the differences between the two sides basically boil down to this.

On the east side, you get more of a profile view of the main drop of Dettifoss as the waterfall tended to face away from that side of the canyon.

However, you also get a more intimate hike that encompassed a view right into the Jökulsárgljúfur along the way as well as the option of hiking up to the neighboring Selfoss with most of its segments facing you.

Dettifoss_West_129_08132021 - Looking back towards Dettifoss from a little more upstream of its brink on its west side, which revealed a scary-looking fissure where the river seemed to fold onto itself while perhaps widening the waterfall even more over time!
Looking back towards Dettifoss from a little more upstream of its brink on its west side, which revealed a scary-looking fissure where the river seemed to fold onto itself while perhaps widening the waterfall even more over time!

Conversely on the west side, you get more of a frontal but very misty view of Detifoss’ main drop as well as more options at seeing the falls from different spots.

For example, there was a new lookout platform right in the spray zone (as of our August 2021 visit) from further downstream Dettifoss.

We also experienced the lookouts further upstream of the waterfall, where we can peer into the turbulence of the river folding into an emerging fissure above its brink.

The Selfoss experience on the east side was a bit more limited as most of the flowing portions of the falls were dropping away from the west side.

Experiencing Dettifoss from the West Bank

Dettifoss_140_06292007 - Top down view of Dettifoss from its west bank
Top down view of Dettifoss from its west bank

From the car park, we hiked a 10- or 15-minute trail that began with no hint of the waterfall’s presence besides some signage.

Shortly after starting the walk, we then went through a desolate and dark landscape strewn with rocks practically reminding us of what the moon’s surface might look like without the craters.

The first of a trail junction leading to the right towards Selfoss was in this barren section (though there would be more recent trails to get to Selfoss along the river later on).

It wasn’t until the trail briefly climbed towards a rocky bluff on the far side of the moonscape did we finally start to see the imposing Dettifoss below us.

Dettifoss_210_06292007 - The desolate and dark moonscape of the terrain around the west bank of Dettifoss when we first saw it in late June 2007
The desolate and dark moonscape of the terrain around the west bank of Dettifoss when we first saw it in late June 2007

Thus, after another trail junction, the Dettifoss trail made its final descent to the river both near and directly across the waterfall’s brink.

On our first visit in 2007, we made it precariously down onto the cliff edges, where we were really tempted to edge out further to see the dark bottom of the gorge.

This was especially tempting since the cliffs blocked our view of the very bottom of the canyon.

However, given the unpredictability of the waterfall’s spray combined with the instability of the cliffs, we noticed rope barricades were set even further back from the cliff edges on our August 2021 visit.

Dettifoss_154_06292007 - Julie dwarfed by Dettifoss its west bank as seen on our first visit in late June 2007
Julie dwarfed by Dettifoss its west bank as seen on our first visit in late June 2007

While experiencing the falls on the west bank, we got some dramatic close-up views while watching Dettifoss dwarfing people on either side of the river!

Moreover, back at the trail junction, we had the option of going further downstream to a misty lookout platform with the option to keep going towards Hafragilsfoss or going upstream towards Selfoss yielding more downward views.

From these high vantage points, we managed to see bold rainbows wafting in the rising mist on sunny days in the afternoon.

However, in the morning, we’d be looking against the sun so it might not be a great time to see this side of Dettifoss unless there was enough cloud cover to diffuse the sun’s light (though hopefully not cover the place in fog).

Dettifoss_017_jx_06282007 - Barely 24 hours before our do-over of the west bank of Dettifoss in late June 2007, we had to contend with pretty bad weather, which really made for a completely different experience
Barely 24 hours before our do-over of the west bank of Dettifoss in late June 2007, we had to contend with pretty bad weather, which really made for a completely different experience

Indeed, that might be something to consider if the weather is not cooperating with your visit and you’re flexible enough to defer a visit for more optimal viewing conditions.

Anyways, as far as extending a visit from the west side of Dettifoss, you can hike about 800m upstream from the top of the steps towards the end of the trail by Selfoss.

On the way back, from Selfoss, you can take the shorter route back to the west side car park by staying inland from the canyon rim, which was about 500-600m from the trail junction within the desolate moonscape stretch.

Additionally, you can hike at least an additional 2.25km (or 4.5km round-trip) downstream from the new lookout platform towards Hafragilsfoss.

Experiencing Dettifoss from the East Bank

Dettifoss_025_06292007 - Double rainbow in the mist from Dettifoss as seen from its east bank during our late June 2007 visit
Double rainbow in the mist from Dettifoss as seen from its east bank during our late June 2007 visit

From the car park on the east side (see directions below), we hiked a well-marked gently downhill trail through some rugged basaltic lava terrain.

During the descent, we were able to look right into the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon before reaching a succession of trail junctions.

The first of the trail junctions took us closer to the rim of the canyon with perhaps the only view that let us cleanly look at (and take photos of) the full height of Dettifoss.

The seonc of the trail junctions took us closer to the brink of Dettifoss where we could literally feel the raw power of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum making its dramatic leap.

Dettifoss_002_06292007 - Looking downstream into the rugged Jökulsárgljúfur canyon as we walked towards the east bank of Dettifoss
Looking downstream into the rugged Jökulsárgljúfur canyon as we walked towards the east bank of Dettifoss

Roped barricades discouraged going any closer to the brink of the falls from the sanctioned trail though they didn’t exist on our first trip so we were able to get all the way to the earth-shaking brink of Dettifoss.

That said, we definitely had to be careful with our risk assessment because there really wasn’t anything to keep us from putting ourselves in danger except for our own judgment back on our late June 2007 visit.

I believe the walk took us on the order of 20-30 minutes to get from the official car park to the falls overlook area and back.

This doesn’t count spending a little more time for other lookouts as well as the optional hike to Selfoss 1km (or 2km round-trip) further upstream.

Dettifoss_028_08122021 - Approaching the rim of the canyon on the east side of Dettifoss during our August 2021 visit
Approaching the rim of the canyon on the east side of Dettifoss during our August 2021 visit

Finally, it’s worth noting that given the developments on the west bank of Dettifoss, the east bank was noticeably less popular, but it was by no means unpopular.

Indeed, we felt that driving to the east bank was fairly straightforward and somewhat smooth from what I could recall from our 2007 visit.

However, it was definitely more washboarded and rougher (though still doable by passenger vehicles) on our 2021 visit, which further enhanced the disparity of tourist traffic volume between the two sides.

An Even More Forceful Detifoss

According to the signs here, the Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon and the desolate moonscapes surrounding both sides of the canyon around Dettifoss was formed by glacial flash floods in the Jökulsá River.

Dettifoss_005_06292007 - This was probably the most complete view that I could get of Dettifoss from its east bank as seen in late June 2007
This was probably the most complete view that I could get of Dettifoss from its east bank as seen in late June 2007

Rather than being a singular event, there has likely been many cataclysmic glacial floods (typically referred to as a jökulhaup or “YUEWHK-uhl-uhyp”).

That is because the sourcing Vatnajökull Glacier is no stranger to having volcanic eruptions from underneath its ice cover causing instant and extensive melting, which then resulted in severe floods and/or mudflows further downstream.

In other parts of the world, we’ve seen such floods referred to as lahars (which is more of a Javanese word as opposed to the Icelandic jökulhaup).

That said, in the years between our visits in 2007 and 2021, respectively, Julie and I were quite surprised at the seemingly greater volume of water on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River.

Dettifoss_039_08122021 - Dettifoss looking swollen and way mistier on our August 2021 visit than it did on our late June 2007 visit (see the photo immediately above for comparison)
Dettifoss looking swollen and way mistier on our August 2021 visit than it did on our late June 2007 visit (see the photo immediately above for comparison)

I suspect that with Global Warming accelerating (especially in the Arctic regions), the melting ice caps have manifested themselves in greater river flow.

Thus, the waterfall took on a far more mistier appearance than it did on our first visit here 14 years prior.

Time will tell how much longer the Dettifoss Waterfall will continue to swell given the warming climate worldwide.

Authorities

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

Dettifoss_004_08122021 - When we returned to Dettifoss in August 2021, we started with the east side, and looking down into the Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon under the late morning sunlight was rewarding
Dettifoss_008_08122021 - Looking across Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon towards the car park for the west side of Dettifoss
Dettifoss_010_08122021 - Looking down into the Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon from the car park on the east side of Dettifoss
Dettifoss_018_08122021 - It was possible to have a picnic right from the car park on the east side of Dettifoss
Dettifoss_021_08122021 - Context of Julie descending on the trail leading down to the lookouts on the east side of Dettifoss
Dettifoss_023_08122021 - Context of the east side of Dettifoss as we continued to head closer to the mist that the falls was actively producing during our August 2021 visit
Dettifoss_040_08122021 - This was the view of Dettifoss from the east side on our August 2021 visit
Dettifoss_044_08122021 - Context of people looking at Dettifoss from a sanctioned viewing spot during our August 2021 visit
Dettifoss_046_08122021 - Beyond the first viewing area of Dettifoss in August 2021, the family then continued further upstream to get to the other viewing area closer to the brink of the falls
Dettifoss_049_08122021 - Mom about to take the detour on the right to follow along the canyon rim before reaching the brink of Dettifoss
Dettifoss_050_08122021 - Context of a crowd of people checking out the brink of Dettifoss from the east side during our August 2021 visit
Dettifoss_058_08122021 - Looking right across the brink of Dettifoss during our August 2021 visit
Dettifoss_062_08122021 - Looking downstream at a bold double rainbow with some people on the viewing platform on the west side of the canyon seen at the topleft of this photo taken during our August 2021 visit
Dettifoss_072_08122021 - A less optimal view of Dettifoss from near its brink as we had repositioned ourselves away from the crowd during our August 2021 visit
Dettifoss_075_08122021 - Looking back at the context of people at the nearest lookout on the east side of Dettifoss during our August 2021 visit
Dettifoss_080_08122021 - Another look back at the general viewing area of the closest Dettifoss viewpoint on the east side
Dettifoss_200_08122021 - After having our fill of Dettifoss, we had a choice of looping back to the car park or extending our visit to the east side of Selfoss as indicated by this sign
Dettifoss_West_001_08132021 - On the next day of our August 2021 visit to Dettifoss, we went to the other (west) side, where there were a lot more WCs and a much larger paved car park
Dettifoss_West_005_08132021 - Looking back towards the line of WCs at the car park near the west side of Dettifoss
Dettifoss_West_010_08132021 - Context of Mom going through the rather barren and desolate moonscape of large rocks as we approached Dettifoss from the west car park
Dettifoss_West_013_08132021 - Perhaps the only things that made us realize that we weren't on the moon were this pool as well as some mossy growth as seen during our August 2021 visit
Dettifoss_West_014_08132021 - Another look at the pool near the western trail leading to Dettifoss during our August 2021 visit
Dettifoss_West_018_08132021 - Perhaps this section with the yellow-topped pole and the somewhat rough rocky terrain was the only reminder of how barren and less developed the west side of Dettifoss used to be during our 2007 visit
Dettifoss_West_021_08132021 - Looking down at the context of Dettifoss from the west side as we were about to make the final descent to it
Dettifoss_West_027_08132021 - But before going down closer to the canyon's rim, we skirted alongside this trail towards the lookout with a more commanding and frontal view of Dettifoss
Dettifoss_West_030_08132021 - Looking back at Dettifoss as we made our way to the lookout platform that I never recalled was there during our first visit 14 years prior to when our August 2021 visit occurred
Dettifoss_West_032_08132021 - Going up steps leading to the fairly large built-up overlook of the west side of Dettifoss
Dettifoss_West_033_08132021 - Context of the built-up lookout deck over the west side of Dettifoss as seen during our August 2021 visit
Dettifoss_West_039_08132021 - Looking back at Dettifoss from a less sprayed part of the lookout deck during our August 2021 visit
Dettifoss_West_042_08132021 - The mist can get quite intense on the west side of Dettifoss, which you can see that the lookout area does tend to get pummeled by the waterfall's intense spray
Dettifoss_West_046_08132021 - Looking across towards the mistier end of the lookout area where this photographer in the yellow jacket started on a fairly lengthy hike down towards Hafragilsfoss
Dettifoss_West_060_08132021 - Descending steps towards the lowest of the lookouts on the west side of Dettifoss
Dettifoss_West_120_08132021 - Another look at the context of the steps leading down to the trails leading us closer to the canyon rim on the west side of Dettifoss
Dettifoss_West_074_08132021 - Context of the family checking out Dettifoss from behind the ropes so we don't get too close to the slick cliff edges continually sprayed by the waterfall
Dettifoss_West_078_08132021 - It's difficult to look across the entire 100m width of Dettifoss from the west side this close up to it
Dettifoss_West_085_08132021 - Tahia and Julie looking on from behind the safety of the roped barricades at the west side of Dettifoss
Dettifoss_West_092_08132021 - Slightly less mistier view across Dettifoss as seen from its west side during our August 2021 visit
Dettifoss_West_094_08132021 - Another contextual look at someone checking out Dettifoss from the west side of its very misty canyon. Notice the patch on the lower right of this picture which I recalled being able to stand on before, but these days (August 2021), the roped barricade discouraged going there
Dettifoss_West_109_08132021 - Looking back at the context of the walk along the cliff edge fronting Dettifoss from the west side
Dettifoss_West_126_08132021 - This was a look back towards the viewing area on the west side of Dettifoss as we were making our way upstream to Selfoss
Dettifoss_West_129_08132021 - Looking down over  the only things that made us realize that we weren't on the moon were this pool as well as some mossy growth as seen during our August 2021 visit
Dettifoss_West_136_08132021 - Another look at the fissure and brink of Dettifoss from its west side as seen during our August 2021 visit
Dettifoss_029_jx_06292007 - Looking downstream at the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon while hiking the east bank trail as seen during our first visit in late June 2007. This photo and the rest of the photos in this gallery were taken on that trip
Dettifoss_011_06292007 - Looking upstream towards Dettifoss as we were approaching its brink on its east bank
Dettifoss_098_06292007 - Looking back at some people on the trail to the east bank of Dettifoss with the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon in the background
Dettifoss_013_06292007 - Full view of Dettifoss from the east bank
Dettifoss_017_06292007 - On the morning that I showed up, Dettifoss was producing bold rainbows when I looked downstream over its brink
Dettifoss_035_06292007 - Looking across Dettifoss from its east bank
Dettifoss_040_06292007 - Julie not comfortable going any closer to the edge
Dettifoss_060_06292007 - Someone who didn't mind getting right to the edge of the cliff at the east bank of Dettifoss
Dettifoss_092_06292007 - Closer inspection of the sheer power of the river plunging over Dettifoss as seen from the east bank
Dettifoss_111_06292007 - Walking through lunar moonscape to return to the west bank of the river one day after crummy weather during our late June 2007 visit
Dettifoss_044_jx_06292007 - The rains from yesterday produced little reflective tarns like this one during our late June 2007 visits
Dettifoss_112_06292007 - Descending down to the lookouts by the edge of the west bank
Dettifoss_148_06292007 - Descending closer to the brink of the west bank of Dettifoss in late June 2007
Dettifoss_114_06292007 - This was about as much of the full width of Dettifoss as I could see from the east bank as I was descending closer to the falls
Dettifoss_140_06292007 - Bright rainbow near the brink of the west bank of Dettifoss as seen on a beautiful weather day in late June 2007
Dettifoss_145_06292007 - Another couple in context checking out the raw size and power of Dettifoss. Notice the people on the other side of the falls revealing its sense of scale
Dettifoss_166_06292007 - Julie in a similar spot on the path with part of Dettifoss making her look real small
Dettifoss_184_06292007 - Bright long exposed look at Dettifoss with double afternoon rainbow in its mist as seen in late June 2007
Dettifoss_212_06292007 - Going back through the desolate landscape to return to the primitive (as of late June 2007) west bank car park
Dettifoss_017_jx_06282007 - The wet, misty, and cold west bank of Dettifoss as seen on a not-so-great weather day in late June 2007
Dettifoss_008_06282007 - We not only had to contend with mist, but we also had to contend with clouds getting in the way under the not-so-ideal weather conditions at Dettifoss
Dettifoss_012_06282007 - Context of Julie checking out the misty Dettifoss under bad weather
Selfoss_017_06282007 - A bonus of visiting Dettifoss was getting to see Selfoss as well.  This view was from the east bank as of late June 2007


Because the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River could not be crossed in the vicinity of Dettifoss, there were two separate roads that left the Ring Road – one for each side of the river.

For the directions to the trailhead on each side of the river, I’ll use the town of Reykjahlið on the east side of the lake Mývatn as the starting point.

Dettifoss_001_08122021 - This was the unpaved car park for the east side of Dettifoss
This was the unpaved car park for the east side of Dettifoss

In case you didn’t know, Mývatn translated as “Midge Lake”!

Directions for the West Bank of Dettifoss

To reach the west bank, we drove east along the Ring Road from Reykjahlið for about 18km.

Then, we would turn left onto the Route 862, which was paved and yielded a very smooth drive.

Just to give you an idea of how much things have changed, this used to be the rough and rugged F862 Road on our 2007 visit, which made the west side less visited.

Dettifoss_West_245_08132021 - Looking back at the paved and spacious car park for Dettifoss as seen during our August 2021 visit, which benefitted from the numerous changes made since our 2007 visit
Looking back at the paved and spacious car park for Dettifoss as seen during our August 2021 visit, which benefitted from the numerous changes made since our 2007 visit

Anyways, we’d continue for about 20km along Route 862 from the Ring Road before we turned right at the signposted turnoff for Dettifoss.

Ignoring another turnoff (for Hafragilsfoss) at 1.8km after leaving the Road 862, we then continued another 1.3km to the car park.

From looking at our logs, driving from Reykjahlið to the west bank of Dettifoss also took us an hour.

Directions for the East Bank of Dettifoss

To access the east bank from Reykjahlið, we headed 37km east on the Ring Road for about a half-hour (or 19km beyond the turnoff for Route 862).

Dettifoss_024_jx_06292007 - The unsealed Road 864 was well-graded and relatively smooth when we first visited Dettifoss in late June 2007
The unsealed Road 864 was well-graded and relatively smooth when we first visited Dettifoss in late June 2007

Just beyond the bridge over Jökulsá á Fjöllum, we turned left onto Route 864 and follow this unsealed road for about 31km.

Back in 2007 when we first came here, this unpaved road was relatively tame and wide.

However, when we came back in 2021, this road deteriorated into a rough, slow-going, washboarded route with most development resources now going to the west side.

Anyways, there was a signposted turnoff to the left leading the last kilometer to the car park.

Drive_to_Dettifoss_East_074_iPhone_08122021 - However, the Road 864 was significantly more washboarded and rougher when we did this drive again in August 2021
However, the Road 864 was significantly more washboarded and rougher when we did this drive again in August 2021

Overall, the drive from Reykjahlið to the east bank of the falls took us a little over an hour.

Visiting both sides of Jökulsá á Fjöllum

If you want to visit both sides of the river (Jökulsá á Fjöllum), you only have a couple of opportunities to cross the river itself.

The first and most obvious crossing is where the Ring Road bridges the river to the south in the 19km stretch between the Route 862 (formerly F862) and the Route 864.

The other crossing is in the north of the canyon where Route 85 bridges the river near Ásbyrgí in the 4km stretch between the Route 864 and the Dettifossvegur on Route 862.

Drive_to_Laugar_from_Dettifoss_East_007_iPhone_08122021 - Looking back at the brink of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River on the Ring Road between Roads 862 and 864
Looking back at the brink of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River on the Ring Road between Roads 862 and 864

If you’re interested in visiting both sides, then it can easily consume a full day of immersing yourself in the scenery of the Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon.

If the weather is sunny for the whole day, then I’d recommend visiting the east side first and then the west side to get the best of the lighting (and not have to look against the sun as much).

Of course, if the weather isn’t sunny all day, then it really doesn’t matter in what order you do both sides.

For geographical context, Reykjahlið was 101km (under 90 minutes drive) east of Akureyri, 165km (about 2 hours drive) east of Egilsstaðir, and 479km (under 6 hours drive) northeast of Reykjavík.

Find A Place To Stay



Booking.com

Sweep showing the brink of Dettifoss from the west side at two different spots, especially showing the water going into the rift on its far western side


Closeup sweep exhibiting the power of Dettifoss from the west side


Back and forth sweep from an intermediate part of the trail overlooking the west side of Dettifoss


Back and forth sweep starting from the dry part of the overlook platform before going into the spray zone for a more frontal view of Dettifoss


Semi-circular right to left sweep starting from the canyon and then panning across at the mist from Dettifoss


Back and forth sweep starting with the canyon and then panning to the misty mess before panning back as seen from the first of the lookouts


Back and forth semicircular sweep starting with rainbow downstream and then panning towards the falls before panning back to show rainbow again


Sweep of the falls and part of the canyon downstream as seen from the east bank


Sweep of the falls from closer to its brink on the west bank


Sweep of the falls near its brink in bad weather just 24 hours earlier (than the same video taken in good weather)!

Trip Planning Resources


Nearby Accommodations




Booking.com


Tagged with: jokulsa a fjollum, vatnsjokull, jokulsargljufur, northeast region, nordurland eystra, iceland, waterfall, akureyri, grand canyon



Visitor Comments:

Impressive due to its power (Dettifoss) February 12, 2014 11:54 am by Georg - I find Dettifoss very impressive due to its power, mass and energy. I guess the grey water color empathizes this impression even more. At home, you can get an idea when watching in full-size and in HD quality, but be warned, it's really powerful ;-) ...Read More

Share your thoughts about what you've read on this page

You must be logged in to submit content. Refresh this page after you have logged in.

Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

No users have submitted a write-up/review of this waterfall


Have you been to a waterfall? Submit a write-up/review and share your experiences or impressions

Review A Waterfall

Nearest Waterfalls

The Waterfaller Newsletter

The Waterfaller Newsletter is where we curate the wealth of information on the World of Waterfalls website and deliver it to you in bite-sized chunks in your email inbox. You'll also get exclusive content like...

  • Waterfall Wednesdays
  • Insider Tips
  • User-submitted Waterfall Write-up of the Month
  • and the latest news and updates both within the website as well as around the wonderful world of waterfalls


The Process of How I Earn Income Sharing My Passion Through Lived Experiences

Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

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.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.