Urridafoss, Katlar, and Rettarfoss

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

About Urridafoss, Katlar, and Rettarfoss

Hiking Distance: 2.4km round trip
Suggested Time: 45-60 minutes

Date first visited: 2007-06-28
Date last visited: 2007-06-28

Waterfall Latitude: 65.88458
Waterfall Longitude: -16.4552

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Urridafoss (Urriðafoss; I think is pronounced “OOR-ri-thuh-foss”; meaning “Trout Falls”) was a cascading waterfall flowing on a tributary of Jökulsá á Fjöllum amongst foliage in the Hólmatungur section right next to the cut in the chasm at Katlar.

To be honest, I wasn’t totally sure that what I’ve photographed on this page was the correct falls, but it was the only one of any size that we saw while walking the Katlar loop, which our GPS mapping pre-trip waypoint suggested that it was supposed to be here.

Holmatungur_058_06282007 - Urriðafoss

Further reinforcing that might lead us to believe we were correct in associating this falls with Urriðafoss was that a map sign near the car park confirmed what our pre-trip waypoint said.

By the way, this waterfall should not be confused with the wide river waterfall on the Þjórsá River in Southern Iceland.

In order to view this waterfall, we had to walk a 2.4km loop from the car park (see directions below) to Katlar.

We walked this loop in a counterclockwise direction so when we were leaving Katlar and headed back out to complete the loop, that was when we finally noticed this cascade (which we initially didn’t realize was Urriðafoss until we looked at our maps after the trip).

Holmatungur_028_06282007 - Looking right into one of the segments of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River at Katlar as there were several waterfalls spilling into this fracture
Looking right into one of the segments of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River at Katlar as there were several waterfalls spilling into this fracture

In addition to this waterfall, the Katlar area was also very interesting there were a handful of waterfalls seeping into the maze of rifts and fractures within the small gorge.

As we walked amongst this beat up landscape, we found ourselves walking on narrow “peninsulas” or protrusions into the mini-gorge allowing us to better appreciate the power of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River.

As we looked downstream, we could see the canyon Jökulsárgljúfur open up once again while we could also see a sliver of Hólmarfossar in the distance.

Back at the car park, there was also a trail that went uphill to the right (in the upstream direction towards Dettifoss).

Rettarfoss_036_06292007 - Looking down at Réttarfoss with a rainbow rising out of its depths
Looking down at Réttarfoss with a rainbow rising out of its depths

About 400m from the car park near the top of the climb, I was able to get views of the impressive Réttarfoss (“Folded Falls”?), which was a short horseshoe-shaped waterfall similar to Selfoss.

Unfortunately, the view of the falls from here was rather distant and only from the top down so I had to look closely to really appreciate that there was indeed a major waterfall down there on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum.


Urriðafoss resides in the Northeast Region near Akureyri, 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.

Holmatungur_004_06282007 - Sign at the car park.  Go straight to access Katlar and Urriðafossar.  Go right to get a view of Réttarfoss
Holmatungur_005_06282007 - Further along the trail, here was another signposted junction.  Go straight for Katlar and Urriðafossar, go left for Hólmarfossar
Holmatungur_012_06282007 - Within Katlar, there were interesting little chasms with waterfalls like this one
Holmatungur_030_06282007 - Looking at some rift in Katlar
Holmatungur_032_06282007 - Looking at a pair of rifts in Katlar.  Each segment had their own waterfalls
Holmatungur_046_06282007 - More focused on a pair of waterfalls within Katlar backed by interesting spires and cliffs in the background
Holmatungur_049_06282007 - A splitting waterfall in Katlar
Holmatungur_051_06282007 - Looking across the river towards a pair of waterfalls falling side by side
Holmatungur_060_06282007 - Looking downstream from Katlar
Holmatungur_064_06282007 - Approaching Urriðafossar
Holmatungur_067_06282007 - Context of the waterfalls spilling into the intriguing Katlar
Holmatungur_069_06282007 - After making back out of Katlar, we looked back over Urriðafossar into Katlar
Rettarfoss_001_06282007 - Réttarfoss in the distance
Rettarfoss_003_06282007 - Zoomed in look at Réttarfoss.  If it really does mean 'Folded Falls' then I guess its name would be pretty appropriate
Holmatungur_117_06292007 - One day later, we returned to Katlar under beautiful skies
Holmatungur_122_06292007 - Without the low clouds, we could better appreciate the context of Katlar and the surrounding terrain
Holmatungur_123_06292007 - This time the downstream view of Jökulsá á Fjöllum with beautiful weather revealed a lot more than yesterday
Holmatungur_126_06292007 - Another look at that split waterfall in Katlar
Holmatungur_127_06292007 - Looking way in the distance at part of Holmarfossar
Holmatungur_132_06292007 - Julie walking towards Urridafossar
Rettarfoss_029_06292007 - Distant view of Réttarfoss in beautiful weather
Rettarfoss_041_06292007 - Last look at Réttarfoss
Holmatungur_001_jx_06292007 - Last look at the waterfalls within Katlar on a fine day before heading back up

Access to Urriðafoss (as well as the waterfalls found in Katlar) is the same as that for Hólmarfossar, which is at the Hólmatungur car park.

That car park is about 6km north of the Dettifoss west bank car park.

For geographical context, Reykjalið was about 51km (45 minutes drive) northeast of the west bank car park for Dettifoss, 101km (under 90 minutes drive) east of Akureyri and 479km (under 6 hours drive) northeast of Reykjavík.

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Tagged with: holmatungur, jokulsa a fjollum, vatnsjokull, jokulsargljufur, northeast region, iceland, nordurland eystra, waterfall, akureyri, myvatn, reykjahlid, grand canyon, dettifoss, katlar

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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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