Skogafoss (or more accurately Skógafoss; “SKOH-ga-foss”) probably rivals Gullfoss as Iceland’s most famous waterfall.
This was a classically-shaped rectangular waterfall that dropped 60m with a width of 25m, and it was this feature that prompted Julie to call this her favorite waterfall in the country.
Adding to its allure was that it had a high volume of water thanks to the flow of the Skógá River, which made the falls thunder and produce rainbow-yielding mist that often would make it a photographer’s dream under sunny skies.
In addition to its aesthetic qualities, perhaps the main reason why the falls was so popular was that it was very easy to access as it’s easily seen from the Ring Road.
Thus, it wasn’t surprising to see lots of people as well as tour buses both during our July 2007 visit and especially on our August 2021 visit.
The presence of camping also helped its popularity, I’m sure, but its very flat and tame walk along the river’s banks leading right up to its wall of water further enhanced its accessibility.
Heck, it was almost as if there was like a compulsory ritual where we joined dozens of people doing the same thing in a sort of cult-like trance.
Getting so close to the base of such a large waterfall was quite rare in our waterfalling experiences, and that further added to the bucket-list quality of Skógafoss.
In addition to reaching the wall of water at its base, there was an official path climbing up the cliffs alongside the waterfall’s drop.
At the brink of the falls, we managed to get precarious top down views of not only the waterfall but also the view towards the Atlantic Ocean as well.
As if that wasn’t enough, this trail continued further upstream along the Skogá River where there were many more waterfalls.
During the three days we were staying in Skógar on our July 2007 visit, we were hoping for a little bit of morning sun so we could get that classic photograph of the falls with a rainbow.
Unfortunately, we were pretty unlucky with the weather and we never able to get that nice photo of Skógafoss with blue skies and bold rainbows.
When we came back in August 2021, we didn’t have much better luck with the weather (we were actually getting rained on) so this just attests to the temperamental nature of the weather in this part of Iceland.
Finally, I looked up my Icelandic dictionary to try to learn the meaning of the name of this waterfall, and it said that “skógur” meant “forest”.
If that’s the case, then this would be “Forest Falls”, but given the lack of trees in the area during our visit, it might suggest that perhaps the area once did harbor a forest.
I came across a book suggesting that around the Seljaland Caves nearby, there was indeed evidence of a birch forest that then disappeared soon after settlement in 874.
Therefore, the place name of this waterfall would appear to make a lot of sense, especially given the typically high rainfall climate of Southern Iceland.
Skogafoss resides in the South Region near Vik, Iceland. It is administered by the municipality of Rangárþing eystra. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting their website.
Look for this easy-to-spot waterfall by the hamlet of Skógar along the Ring Road about 105km east of Selfoss (the town) and 103km west of Kirkjubæjarklaustur.
There should be ample parking here.
For additional context, Selfoss was 52km east of Reykjavík. Overall, the drive from the country’s capital to the falls would be about 149km or 2 hours.
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