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  • Einar Páll Svavarsson

Sigöldugljúfur canyon

Updated: Jan 9


Sigöldugljúfur canyon Fjallabak in Iceland
Sigöldugljúfur canyon Fjallabak in Iceland

Sigöldugljúfur canyon is a captivating small canyon in the Icelandic Highland. It is quite an extraordinary natural wonder with its many small spring-fed streams, small ponds, crystal clear waterfalls, blue river, colorful vegetation, and fascinating cliffs—a beautiful canyon that is almost magical and could easily be a scene in an adventure story or a sci-fi movie. It has all the ingredients to become a popular destination as it looks like something in a fairytale or otherworldly. It has been a hidden gem for years, as access had been tricky. In 2021, a better road was built, allowing most 4X4 cars to drive to this beautiful place. Stopping by Sigöldugljúfur has always been a good idea for photographers and most visitors planning to take the Sigalda track to Landmannalaugar vs. the Dómadalur track. The canyon is pretty photogenic, and if you spend some time here, a new and surprising motive, perspective, or way to present the scenery will indeed stage itself.


Map of Highland in Iceland home of Sigöldugljúfur
Map of Highland in Iceland home of Sigöldugljúfur

Although fascinating, there is a drawback:


Sigöldugljúfur in winter
Sigöldugljúfur in winter

One of the reasons the canyon has not been popular among visitors, in addition to difficult access, is significant changes in the landscape surrounding the canyon, owing to the modifications made by the Sigalda Power Plant project. Thus, it is a gem burdened by all the changes brought about by the power plant project and other man-made interferences. So, like other similar natural wonders that have been affected by a similar project, there is always the danger that the muddy water from the glacial river will again float through the canyon when the reservoir for the project fills up. Therefore, it can be dangerous to hike to the bottom of the canyon. But apart from that, it is a fascinating and beautiful canyon. You will get the most spectacular view if you stop by the parking lot on the east side of the canyon. I have walked around it to the bottom and photographed it from almost any possible angle; nothing beats the perspective from this side.


The best access is when you come down the Sigalda hill:


Sigöldugljúfur canyon and Tungnaá river
Sigöldugljúfur canyon and Tungnaá river

Although today the canyon has become easily accessible, the small hillock Sigalda still provides as the best access. The hillock is located along Road Nr. 208 and arrives a few minutes after you turn south from Road Nr. 26, which leads to Sprengisandur road. Road Nr. 208 is part of Nyrðri Fjallabaksleið track and is one of two entrances that will lead you to Landmannalaugar from the west side. Sigöldugljúfur is easily accessible when you drive down the slope of the small hillock Sigalda and turn left immediately while coming down the hill. It is good to park the car near the interception and walk the short distance to the canyon if you want to enjoy a short hike along the canyon.


Video of Sigöldugljúfur canyon


Sigöldugljúfur on the map of Iceland


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