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  • Einar Páll Svavarsson

Rauðfossakvísl and Rauðfossafjöll


Rauðfossakvísl the source, the springfed river
Rauðfossakvísl the source, the springfed river

Every river, creek, and stream begins somewhere, a source. Hiking along a river or stream towards a source is often an exciting and rewarding experience. Often, the source is hidden under a glacier, comes from a lake, from under a ground of black sand, or even spread over a vast moorland. But sometimes, you can actually see the source floating from a mountain slope or running out from under a lava field. Irrespective of the type, it is always a captivating sight. Occasionally, you can even find a place where beautiful, clear, and clean water flows from below as a spring and feeding a creek or a river. This is the case in the Rauðfossafjöll mountains and of the small river Rauðfossakvísl.


Map of Highland in Iceland
Map of Highland in Iceland

The beautiful spring at Rauðfossafjöll

The stunning landscape when hiking around Rauðfossakvísl
The stunning landscape when hiking around Rauðfossakvísl

In the Rauðfossafjöll mountains, you will find one such source, a rare spring forming a beautiful pound. And even when you look through the surface from above, it looks even more mystical and strange as the hole at the bottom of the spring leaves an eerie feeling that someone is living there. It may seem like a Gollum-like creature will crawl to the surface at any time, only adding to the magic of the surrounding nature.

The small waterfall close to the source Rauðfossakvísl
The small waterfall close to the source Rauðfossakvísl

Adding to the sight and mystical nature of the spring is the red floor to the floating water, the river Rauðfossakvísl that runs from the source. The bottom is a deep orange, almost red, for the first three to four hundred meters, which is very unusual. This is truly one of the most fascinating phenomena in the Icelandic landscape. It is also a great place to hike with children if you are on a family vacation in Iceland.


Take great care and caution in this sensitive area

The Rauðfossakvísl source
The Rauðfossakvísl source

But beware if you intend to find and visit Rauðfossafjöll, it is a natural phenomenon and a treasure only intended for viewing so avoid waling close to the source or into the riverbed. Moreover, it is only possible to visit here from the end of June until the middle of September, much like all other places in the Highlands of Iceland. In other seasons, the surrounding area is more or less covered with snow and extremely difficult to navigate. The river leading to Rauðfoss (also with a red bed) has highly sensitive surroundings and vegetation, so walking by the river is a bad idea. There is enough room on the banks and the land a bit higher, and from there, the river is a joy to view with its odd color and the noon green “dýjamosi” moss stretching from the waterfall to the source. So be careful and enjoy it from a distance.

The riverbed of Rauðfossakvísl
The riverbed of Rauðfossakvísl

You can hike to Rauðfossakvísl by turning north from Route 1 to Route 26 along the south shore. When you reach F225, turn right or west and drive about 24 kilometers until you see a sign that reads "Krakatindar." Then, turn by that sight, and in a few hundred meters, you will find a parking lot. From there, you can hike the path to Rauðfossakvísl, which takes about two to three hours.



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