Updated: Apr 7
The waterfall Ófærufoss (the "impassable" waterfall) is one of several interesting waterfalls in the Highlands of Iceland. It is a waterfall you don't want to miss if you are traveling in the country, and waterfalls are on your list of things to see. It is a waterfall in the course of the river Nyðri-Ófæra or "the impassable northern river." Not only is it a beautiful and impressive fall, but probably one of the ten most exciting waterfalls in Iceland. The river is fed by springs and runoff water in the area, so it has quite a volume year-round, and as it lacks contribution from glaciers and glacial water, it is usually clean and clear. Placed in the great fissure Eldgjá, or Canyon of Fire, it is one of the main attractions in the Highlands. The canyon Eldgjá, a 40 km long eruptive fissure, is a geological phenomenon and one of the largest and longest in Iceland, formed by an eruption around the time of the first human settlement in Iceland around the year 930 AD. There is a ranger and a small service center in the parking lot , and the hike from the parking lot to the waterfall is about an hour. You can also view it from a distance or walk up to an observation panel. So, it is definitely worth it to spend two to three hours in Eldgjá and by Ófærufoss.
A short and stunning hike to the waterfall
Where we find Ófærufoss is the most beautiful part of the fissure and the most interesting as both the canyon and the waterfall are stunning. The canyon is around 600 meters wide and 200 meters tall. Before 1993, the waterfall was even more attractive, with an arch bridge across the lower cascade. However, in 1993, the arch collapsed in a regular spring thaw that proved extensive.
How to reach Ófærufoss
Access to the canyon is a little tricky, and the area is only accessible from the middle of June until late September as the Highland roads are closed in the winter. From Route 1 in southern Iceland, turn north on Route 208 located about 20 kilometers west of the small village Kirkjubæjarklaustur. After a short drive, this road changes into a mountain road F203, Fjallabaksleið nyrðri (the northern track behind the mountains). A 25-kilometer drive on this road will take you straight to the mouth of Eldgjá, which houses the waterfall. A few kilometers before you arrive at the parking lot for Eldgjá, you need to drive over a river that can be difficult to pass, so be cautious. There are two and a half to three kilometers to walk from the parking lot, depending on how near the waterfall you want to go. Before you drive to the parking lot passing the river, you can take a turn to Gjátindur. This road definitely requires a well-equipped 4x4 as you drive up and by the canyon's rim. Here, you get an impressive view of Eldgjá and Ófærufoss.