Hveradalir valley is a geothermal wonderland
Updated: Apr 7
Hveradalir (the valley of hot springs), in the middle of the Icelandic Highland, is one of Iceland's most extensive and fascinating areas. It is defined as a high-temperature geothermal area (Háhitasvæði), with temperatures 1000 meters below the ground reaching 200 degrees Celsius. The site is quite exciting from a geological perspective and offers unique vistas for both micro and macro photography. Here, tiny flowers and vegetation hidden under colorful hot springs with sulfur omissions circle around the vents; a large-scale landscape boasts of beautiful small valleys, ravines, creeks, glaciers, and boiling mud pots; and screaming hot springs with powerful steams whistle with all their might. It is a place where you can spend hours taking photographs while relishing the new possibilities and the uniqueness of the views the whole time. It is a heaven for nature lovers and landscape photographers.
You must plan your visit to Hveradalir well:
Hveradalir is part of the mountain ridge Kerlingarfjöll. The valley has an altitude of around 1000 meters, where spring arrives late and autumn arrives early. So, the prime time for visiting Hveradalir is between early July and the beginning of September. However, if you are an avid and passionate photographer and have seen spectacular photos from Hveradalir valley, the suitable timeframe for you would be from the last week of July to August. It is the time when the mountains display their beautiful colors, snow from last winter has melted, and a new blanket of snow has not yet arrived. Thus, in all fairness, and given the efforts and time it takes to visit Hveradalir, the time window to experience the full beauty of this place is only about six weeks.
How to reach:
The valley and the fascinating area around it are one of the main attractions when driving the highland road Kjölur, also known as Road Nr. 35 or Kjalvegur; it is a place you don't want to miss if you are traveling in the Highland on your tour to Iceland. There is a good campsite at Ásgarður in Kerlingarfjöll, approximately 10 kilometers from Kjölur road on F347. Like many other places in the Highland, the weather here is unpredictable and quite cold, so do remember to take good warm clothing and a warm layer to sleep in. At Ásgarður you also find a good hotel and a small restaurant. From Ásgarður, it is ideal to hike the five kilometers to Hveradalir geothermal area. The hiking trail is well marked and easy to follow. You can also drive to a parking lot near the geothermal area. Even though the roads to the service center at Ásgarður and the hotel in Kerlingarfjöll open in June, the dirt road to Hveradalir is often closed until late July. In those conditions, you need to hike a few additional kilometers from where the dirt road stops by a snowflake, and a good 4X4 vehicle is a must.
Hveradalir is a well-maintained area with good trails and neatly built steps to all the leading hot springs and amazing sights. The variety in color and landscape is simply stunning. You will definitely feel like entering another world when you arrive at the colorful, smoking, boiling springs or the pristine valleys filled with snow from glaciers.