Hraunfossar

Reykholt / Husafell, West Region (Vesturland), Iceland

About Hraunfossar


Hiking Distance: roadside; about 1km total (both falls)
Suggested Time: about 45 minutes total (both falls)

Date first visited: 2007-06-23
Date last visited: 2021-08-18

Waterfall Latitude: 64.70287
Waterfall Longitude: -20.97713

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Hraunfossar (meaning “lava falls”) was an intriguing series of springs coming out of the Hallmundarhraun lava field appearing like a long 900m strand of cascades feeding the light blue Hvítá River.

That characteristic of springs emerging from lava tubes and rough grooves within the lava made this waterfall unique among those that we’ve encountered throughout Iceland so far.

Hraunfossar_033_06232007 - Hraunfossar
Hraunfossar

After all, for most of the other waterfalls, we’ve seen them drop over solid basalt columns instead of through porous lava.

Hraunfossar’s strand of cascades was so long that we had a very difficult time trying to photograph the falls in its entirety without any postprocessing given its enormous length.

Further augmenting this place’s scenic appeal was the presence of Barnafoss, which was a turbulent convergence of more springs and waterfalls flowing beneath a natural bridge.

We have a separate write-up for Barnafoss, which goes more into a saga concerning why that waterfall no longer had a second natural bridge across the span of the Hvítá River, which was fed by the Langjökull Glacier.

Hraunfossar_053_06232007 - Looking further down the length of Hraunfossar alongside the powder blue Hvítá River, which was fed by the Langjökull Glacier (the same glacier that also fed the famous Gullfoss Waterfall)
Looking further down the length of Hraunfossar alongside the powder blue Hvítá River, which was fed by the Langjökull Glacier (the same glacier that also fed the famous Gullfoss Waterfall)

In any case, the color of the water flowing before the Hraunfossar really added plenty of color to the overall landscape, especially since it contrasted with the black lava.

Experiencing Hraunfossar and Barnafoss

A short series of trails, boardwalks, and a bridge allowed us to experience both Hraunfossar and Barnafoss from various lookouts each yielding different perspectives.

Starting from a fairly sizable car park (see directions below), we followed a footpath to a signed junction and then walked immediately towards the nearest lookout in about 50m or so.

At this lookout, we got our first look at the main springs within the impressive Hraunfossar as seen from across the Hvítá River.

Hraunfossar_085_08182021 - Across the bridge over the Hvítá River, we were able to get a closeup look at part of the Hallmundarhraun Lava Field, which gave rise to the Hraunfossar Waterfalls
Across the bridge over the Hvítá River, we were able to get a closeup look at part of the Hallmundarhraun Lava Field, which gave rise to the Hraunfossar Waterfalls

However, from here, we also managed to look further downstream where more spring-fed cascades and waterfalls could be seen for as far as our eyes could see.

Proceeding further to the east (upstream) along the trail, we continued to get looks across the river at the Hraunfossar until we reached the next lookout just under 200m later.

At this lookout, we got more angled looks back at the Hraunfossar Waterfall as well as views towards the Hallmundarhraun Lava Field and the footbridge spanning the Hvítá River.

The trail would eventually converge at a series of trail junctions before the bridge in less than 100m.

Hraunfossar_013_iPhone_08182021 - Looking at the lone natural bridge still standing across the turbulent rapids squeezed in by the Hallmundarhraun Lava Field at the Barnafoss Waterfall
Looking at the lone natural bridge still standing across the turbulent rapids squeezed in by the Hallmundarhraun Lava Field at the Barnafoss Waterfall

From this junction, we could across the bridge to get a closer look at the Hallmundarhraun Lava Field, or we could go further upstream towards the Barnafoss Waterfall seen from a couple more sanctioned lookouts.

The first of the lookouts let us look down at the lone standing natural bridge left at Barnafoss, and the second lookout was probably about 60m from the trail junction.

However, I swore that on our first visit in June 2007, we actually went further upstream towards a natural channel where more waterfalls sprung into the turbulent Hvítá River below.

According to my GPS logs, the entire excursion encompassed roughly a 1km walk in total for both waterfalls, and we easily experienced the whole thing in less than an hour.

Hraunfossar_034_08182021 - Over the years since our first visit to Hraunfossar in June 2007, it seems like this place has grown in popularity given the steady stream of visitors throughout our August 2021 visit
Over the years since our first visit to Hraunfossar in June 2007, it seems like this place has grown in popularity given the steady stream of visitors throughout our August 2021 visit

Over the years, it seemed like Hraunfossar had grown in popularity as Julie and I had this place to ourselves when we first came here in June 2007, but as of August 2021, the place was busy with a constant stream of visitors.

Authorities

Hraunfossar resides in the West Region near Reykholt, 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.

Hraunfossar_009_08182021 - Looking upstream towards the main springs of the Hraunfossar Waterfalls as seen from the lookout that was closest to the car park under overcast (and intermittently rainy) skies during our August 2021 visit
Hraunfossar_008_08182021 - Looking downstream at the extent of Hraunfossar from the lookout that was closest to the car park under overcast (and intermittently rainy) skies during our August 2021 visit
Hraunfossar_011_08182021 - Looking directly across the Hvítá River from the nearest lookout to the car park during our August 2021 visit
Hraunfossar_012_08182021 - Context of people at the lookout closest to the car park for Hraunfossar
Hraunfossar_019_08182021 - Focused look at the main part of the Hraunfossar Waterfalls as seen from the first lookout
Hraunfossar_029_08182021 - Another look at the downstream springs of Hraunfossar as we went further along the trail from that first lookout
Hraunfossar_041_08182021 - Beyond the first lookout of Hraunfossar, we could see bits and pieces of the waterfall through the overgrowth along the trail
Hraunfossar_049_08182021 - Julie and Tahia approaching the next lookout that was closer to the footbridge over the Hvítá River
Hraunfossar_050_08182021 - Looking upstream from the second lookout at Hraunfossar towards the footbridge over the Hvítá River
Hraunfossar_066_08182021 - Looking along the extent of Hraunfossar as seen from the second lookout over the Hvítá River during our August 2021 visit
Hraunfossar_071_08182021 - Looking upstream from the footbridge in the direction of Barnafoss and the first lookout for it during our August 2021 visit
Hraunfossar_073_08182021 - Looking downstream towards the second lookout from the footbridge over the Hvítá River
Hraunfossar_075_08182021 - Context of the view of Hraunfossar from the other side of the Hvítá River after having crossed the footbridge during our August 2021 visit
Hraunfossar_082_08182021 - Another look at the Hraunfossar Waterfalls and the second lookout as seen from a corner on the other side of the Hvítá River
Hraunfossar_079_08182021 - Looking down at the steps and the footbridge after having crossed the footbridge over the Hvítá River
Hraunfossar_091_08182021 - Looking back towards the Road 518 and the Hraunfossar Restaurant and Cafe, which I swore wasn't there when we first came here in June 2007
Hraunfossar_094_08182021 - Looking across the Hvítá River from the other side of the river towards the rugged lava fields harboring Barnafoss
Hraunfossar_099_08182021 - Tahia about to leave the other side of the river and head back down towards the footbridge to go back to the Barnafoss side
Hraunfossar_105_08182021 - Looking at the context of the first lookout for Barnafoss
Hraunfossar_106_08182021 - Looking back across the river towards the first lookout of Barnafoss and the footbridge we had just gone across earlier
Hraunfossar_118_08182021 - Looking towards Barnafoss and its turbulence within the Hvítá River
Hraunfossar_121_08182021 - Looking back at the trail between the restaurant and cafe and part of the Barnafoss Waterfall in the distance as we were about to conclude our August 2021 visit
Hraunfossar_126_08182021 - Mom and Tahia approaching the Hraunfossar Restaurant and Cafe at the end of our visit to the falls in August 2021
Hraunfossar_001_06232007 - Approaching the overlook for Hraunfossar (after walking to Barnafoss) during our first time here in June 2007
Hraunfossar_005_06232007 - Looking downstream at what appeared to be the main part of the Hraunfossar springs as seen in June 2007
Hraunfossar_022_06232007 - Closer look at the main part of Hraunfossar angled towards the west in long exposure as seen in June 2007
Hraunfossar_035_06232007 - More zoomed in direct look at the main part of Hraunfossar in June 2007
Hraunfossar_019_jx_06232007 - Some wildflowers blooming before the Hraunfossar waterfall during our June 2007 visit
Hraunfossar_023_jx_06232007 - Looking at a different part of Hraunfossar showing how the water percolates through the lava before spilling over the ledges and into the river during our June 2007 visit
Hraunfossar_024_jx_06232007 - Another look at a different part of Hraunfossar directly as seen in June 2007
Hraunfossar_040_06232007 - More contextual view of Hraunfossar as seen in June 2007
Hraunfossar_048_06232007 - Looking more upstream at the main part of Hraunfossar in June 2007
Hraunfossar_051_06232007 - Focused on the main part of Hraunfossar in long exposure in June 2007
Hraunfossar_059_06232007 - Julie checking out Hraunfossar during our first visit in a morning in June 2007 when we were practically the only people here


Hraunfossar and Barnafoss were located about 18km east of Reykholt and 7km west of Husafell along the Road 518.

To get there from the Ring Road from the south, we’d leave the Ring Road at the Route 50 just south of the bridge over the Borgarfjörður about 2km south of Borgarnes.

Hraunfossar_001_08182021 - When we came back to Hraunfossar for the first time in 14 years, we noticed that there was now a large car park that could even accommodate tour buses
When we came back to Hraunfossar for the first time in 14 years, we noticed that there was now a large car park that could even accommodate tour buses

Then, we’d follow the Route 50 east for 33km before continuing on the Route 518 for another 21km to the signed turnoff on the left for Hraunfossar.

This 58km drive would take roughly 45 minutes.

If we were coming from the Ring Road towards the north near Haugar (roughly 12km south of Bifröst), then we’d leave the Ring Road at Haugar onto the Route 50.

From there, we’d follow the Route 50 for 18km or so before keeping left to go onto the Route 518 for the remaining 21km to the turnoff for Hraunfossar on the left.

Hraunfossar_005_08182021 - Looking back at the car park for self-drivers at the Hraunfossar and Barnafoss Waterfalls
Looking back at the car park for self-drivers at the Hraunfossar and Barnafoss Waterfalls

This 52km drive from Haugar would take between 30-45 minutes.

Finally, for geographical context, Reykholt was about 35km (about 30 minutes drive) southeast of Bifröst, 41km (over 30 minutes drive) northeast of Borgarnes, 71km (under an hour drive) northeast of Akranes, and 108km (about 90 minutes) north of Reykjavik.

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Back and forth sweep focusing on the entire lengthy stretch of springs as seen from the lookout deck across the Hvita River


Brief semicircular sweep starting from the bridge over the Hvita before ending with an angled look at the breadth of the entirety of Hraunfossar further downstream


Brief sweep from across the Hvita River after having crossed its bridge showing a fairly unusual angled look at Hraunfossar


Long video focusing on seeing Barnafoss and its lone standing natural bridge from a couple of different lookouts


Sweep of the wide waterfall


Fixated on the main part of the falls

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Tagged with: reykholt, husafell, west region, iceland, waterfall, reykjavik, barnafoss, lava, springs



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