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  • Writer's pictureEinar Páll Svavarsson

Sigöldugljúfur canyon

Updated: Jun 25


Sigöldugljúfur canyon Fjallabak in Iceland
Sigöldugljúfur canyon Fjallabak in Iceland

Sigöldugljúfur canyon, known as the Valley of Tears by tourists, is an enchanting small canyon nestled in the Icelandic Highland. This extraordinary natural wonder boasts small spring-fed streams, crystal clear waterfalls, and a blue river, all surrounded by colorful vegetation and fascinating cliffs. Its beauty is so mesmerizing that it could easily be a setting in an adventure story or a sci-fi movie. With its fairytale-like charm and otherworldly allure, Sigöldugljúfur has all the makings of a popular destination. Previously a hidden gem due to tricky access, a new road constructed in 2021 now allows most 4X4 cars to reach this picturesque location. A stop at Sigöldugljúfur is a must for photographers and visitors heading to Landmannalaugar via the Sigalda track. This photogenic canyon offers endless opportunities for capturing unique perspectives and presenting its scenery in new and surprising ways.


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.


 

If you're planning to tour Iceland in a rental car, make sure to read this article about the three important things you need to know and the type of car that would be best for your trip!

 

Sigöldugljúfur on the map of Iceland


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