The Kolugljúfur Canyon

Date 03 March 2024

The Kolugljúfur Canyon

The Kolugljúfur Canyon

Kolugljúfur is a gorgeous canyon located in the north of Iceland, known throughout the country for its Kolufossar Falls which flow into the bottom of the gorge.

Often neglected by tourists who generally head towards the town of Akureyri without stopping here on the way, the Kolugljúfur canyon is nonetheless a magnificent natural site in its own right. It is also very easy to access for much of the year, being close to the island's ring road.

The Kolugljúfur canyon and the Kolufossar waterfalls


Kolugljúfur Canyon and Kolufossar Falls - Photo credit Gulfside Mike @Unsplash

Hidden in the Víðidalur valley, east of the Víðidalsá river, lies the legendary Kolugil farm, renowned for its abundant salmon. This enchanting location, home to the Kolugljúfur Gorge and the breathtaking Kolufossar Waterfalls, draws its name from the giantess Kola. The giant matriarch of Kolugil was once said to roam these very lands.

As the tale goes, under the cover of night, Kola would perch on a canyon ledge, skillfully snatching salmon with her bare hands then playfully tossing them into a nearby hot spring for a natural cook-off.

Venturing west of the Víðidalsá River, on the canyon's western side, you'll discover Kolurúm, meaning "Kola's bed." This natural formation, a ledge slightly lower than the canyon rim and perfectly cut for a giant to sleep on, adds to the mystique of this extraordinary locale.

Spanning about a kilometer with depths of 40 to 50 meters, the canyon is surrounded by lush greenery for a truly striking contrast with the blue hues of the waterfalls and the frothy white foam. Here, you'll encounter 7 to 8 picturesque waterfalls, including the famed Kolufossar, which lends an undeniable charm to the surroundings.

For several years now, two observation platforms built near the canyon offer a splendid vantage point of the upper waterfall, the Kolufossar waterfalls, and the Kolugljúfur canyon.

Keep in mind that these platforms weren't built just for viewing pleasure. There is also the safety aspect... The canyon has gained notoriety as one of the country's top 10 most treacherous tourist spots. Recent years have seen a number of unfortunate accidents due to the canyon's slippery edges and the river's strong currents. So be sure to keep a safe distance or, better yet, stay on the platforms to capture the perfect shot risk-free.

How to get to Kolugljufur

Situated in the northern reaches of Iceland, just south of the enchanting Vatnsnes peninsula, Kolugljúfur is easily accessible for all types of vehicles.

Here's your route:

  • Head towards Akureyri on road number 1.
  • Once past the quaint village of Laugarbakki, continue on road number 1 for 13 km.
  • Look for the right turn onto small road 715, marked Víðidalur.
  • Traverse this dirt road for about 6 km until you reach a parking lot, complete with an informative board introducing the wonders of Kolugljúfur canyon.

From this parking spot, a charming bridge is visible a few steps away, beckoning you to embark on your adventure through the breathtaking gorges.

Top article photo credit: Vadym Lavra@Dreamstime