Sigöldugljúfur Canyon, known as the Canyon of the Valley of Tears, is a remote natural wonder lost in the highlands near the Landmannalaugar region.
The magnificent Sigöldugljúfur canyon remains a bit of a secret, despite its beauty, and is not marked anywhere along Road 208.
The “Valley of Tears Canyon” is known as such due to the many waterfalls that flow down its sheer cliffs. These falls are also known as Lekafossar, or Tungnaárfossar.
This natural wonder did not exist until a few years ago. Sigöldugljúfur was underwater, submerged by the Tungnaá River until the construction of the Sigalda hydroelectric plant and its dam a few kilometers north. The power plant's construction was the subject of heated debate in Iceland, and construction finally began in 1978.
The dam lowered the water level, emptying the canyon, allowing its many waterfalls to appear, giving us the superb panorama that exists today.
Sigöldugljúfur Canyon - Takepicsforfun @dreamstime
Sigöldugljúfur is like a small oasis in the middle of the highlands, completely isolated and unusually lush for the region. The contrasts of the moss and flora on the flanks of the canyon contrast perfectly with the turquoise water that shines brightest when the weather is clear.
Something of a hidden treasure in the region, you won't find many tourists in Sigöldugljufur. The site is easily accessible in summer, roughly from May and October. If you can, time your visit for the end of the afternoon or early evening to catch the bright summer light that sets the place ablaze, revealing the most magnificent colors.
Sigöldugljúfur is very poorly indicated, in fact there are almost no signs at all. To reach the site, take the F208 north towards Landmannalaugar. The canyon is in fact only 24 km from the Landmannalaugar car park, located near the wide Krókslón lake.
From Hrauneyar station, after 15 minutes on a paved road, you drive by the infamous power plant before reaching a metal bridge. After that, the paved road turns into a proper dirt and gravel off-road trail. (see map below)
As you near the power plant, you will see a sign indicating the direction Sigöldufoss. It is a charming little waterfall worth a quick look, but keep going to reach the canyon.
Continue for about 3 km after the power plant and the road will take you up a small hill and down the other side. The small parking lot on the right can accommodate ten vehicles and is the only place to park (GPS: 64.154925, -19.138568).
The car park is near an intersection with a small gravel road marked with a no vehicle sign, so put on your walking boots and grab a box of tissues for your short hike to the Valley of Tears!
This 15-minute walk, just about 1 km of easy terrain, leads right to the Sigöldugljúfur viewpoint. Stay on the road for about 800 meters before turning off to reach the canyon on your left. You can't go down into the canyon, however, but the view from the cliffs is spectacular, an ideal place to snap some memorable photographs.
There isn't much in the region in terms of accommodation... The nearest village is Hrauneyar in the north.
The Highland Center hotel is about twenty minutes from Sigöldugljúfur by car, and it has an excellent reputation. For this reason it fills up very fast in summer, so you'll need to book well in advance. Also, as there are very few options in the area, it is rather expensive.