Tips on how to Get to Studlagil Canyon, Iceland + Suggestions For Visiting

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Studlagil Canyon is without doubt one of the most gorgeous and attention-grabbing locations I’ve visited in Iceland — but because of its distant location, it feels splendidly off the overwhelmed monitor.

This canyon, positioned within the Jökuldalur Valley (Glacier Valley) of East Iceland, is residence to one of many best collections of basalt columns in Iceland. In actual fact, “Studlagil Canyon” interprets to “Basalt Column Gorge.” These lengthy, darkish streaks of rock kind uncommon geometric shapes all through Iceland.

Much more attention-grabbing? Folks had no thought this place even existed till a decade or so in the past. Extra on that in a bit.

Studlagil Canyon was excessive on our listing when Amanda and I visited Iceland. And whereas we spent a lot of the expertise soaking moist and sinking into mud, we completely liked it.

It is best to positively put this in your listing. Right here’s what you could find out about Studlagil Canyon.

(Be aware: It’s spelled “Stuðlagil Canyon” in Icelandic, however I’ll be utilizing Studlagil Canyon right here. The “ð” is pronounced like “th.”)

A canyon lined with gray columns of rock, with a turquoise river flowing through it. The sides are grassy and there's a viewing platform on the left.

How Did This Place Come to Be?

For hundreds of years, Icelanders had no thought the basalt rock columns of Studlagil Canyon have been lurking beneath the river’s floor. The turquoise Jökla River rushed wildly via the panorama, main no clue to what lay beneath.

Folks didn’t even reside on this a part of Iceland. Simply sheep.

In 2009, the hydroelectric plant Kárahnjúkavirkjun opened close by and created the Hálslón Reservoir. A lot of the Jökla River was diverted into the reservoir as a substitute of dashing down its normal path, so the river stage decreased seven to eight meters.

In 2016 a gaggle of sheep herders found the newly revealed canyon. In 2017, Studlagil Canyon was featured in an promoting marketing campaign for Iceland-based WOW Airways.

WOW stopped its operations two years later, however the cat was out of the bag — Studlagil Canyon was the most popular new pure surprise of Iceland. Lately, the canyon went from a hidden gem to a must-visit spot, drawing vacationers from all around the world.

But nonetheless, this place may be very quiet in comparison with the tour bus-crammed Golden Circle, or the busy Mývatn area in Northern Iceland.

Studlagil Canyon FAQ

How lengthy is the hike to Studlagil Canyon?

For those who park within the small car parking zone on the east facet, it’s a couple of two-hour out-and-back hike. In case you have a 4×4, you may park within the nearer car parking zone and save about an hour’s mountain climbing time.

Do you want a neighborhood information to hike Studlagil Canyon?

No information is important at Studlagil Canyon. The mountain climbing path is clear and simple to comply with.

Is there a restroom at Studlagil Canyon?

There’s a paid rest room on the west facet solely. There are completely zero services on the east facet, which is the mountain climbing facet.

Which facet of Studlagil Canyon is best, east or west?

The east facet is for the lengthy hike. The west facet is only a viewing platform.

Four hikers in colorful coats hiking along a muddy path.

Mountaineering to Studlagil Canyon

There are two sides of Studlagil Canyon: the east facet and the west facet. You’ll want to know which facet earlier than you begin!

The east facet is the place you do the hike, and there are completely no services right here — not even bathrooms. There are two parking heaps, one additional away and one nearer however on the finish of a tough street.

The west facet has an overlook which you can climb all the way down to {photograph} the canyon (greater than 100 stairs), and there are paid restrooms. That is subsequent to a farm known as Grund, and there’s a paid rest room. No mountain climbing is accessible from the west facet.

Amanda and I have been within the hike at first, so we headed straight to the east facet parking space.

A parking lot next to a river surrounded by grass as far as you can see.

Our Expertise Mountaineering Studlagil Canyon

When Amanda and I get to the Studlagil Canyon east facet car parking zone in entrance of the bridge, now we have our first choice to make. We will see the second car parking zone within the distance. Might we get there in our little Toyota Corolla?

After weighing our choices, we determine no. This appears to be like like a tough street with plenty of deep holes; whereas it’s technically not a 4×4-only street like an F street, it’s higher suited to 4×4 vehicles. (By the way, we made the fitting choice. We find yourself driving our automobile on a number of questionable roads throughout the journey, however none the place the street situation was this unhealthy.)

Parking within the additional away car parking zone provides on an additional half-hour to our journey, however we’re prepared. An hour’s hike every method is completely doable.

We gear up and begin mountain climbing, climbing hills alongside the potholed street.

A waterfall emerging from a wall of long, skinny, vertical stone columns.
Pretty, beautiful Stuðlafoss Waterfall

About half-hour into our hike, near the second car parking zone, we come throughout a stupendous waterfall — Studlafoss! Studlafoss waterfall reminds us of Svartifoss, the famously picturesque waterfall on Iceland’s southeast coast. It’s a stunning shock alongside our path.

At this level it begins to rain. No downside. We get out our rain jackets and I determine to not placed on my rain pants, as I have already got waterproof mountain climbing pants on. That might be sufficient, wouldn’t it?

Expensive readers — that was a mistake. Water resistant is NOT waterproof. However by the point I understand I ought to have put my rain pants on, my mountain climbing pants are so soaked that there’s no level. Alas, we trudge alongside the path, my tooth gritted in annoyance.

A gravel pathway with hikers passing a river.

By this level the mountain climbing path is an easy-to comply with gravel street, and largely stage — a welcome growth after the hilly starting to the hike.

We have now been hoping that we’d come throughout a toilet someplace in our hike. No, that constructing within the car parking zone isn’t a toilet. Nor are the few buildings after that. Neither is the constructing the workmen are setting up. Nor have they got a porta-potty on web site. “You must go to the opposite facet of the River Jökla,” one of many workmen tells us.

It’s okay. We will do that!! We’re not going to overlook Studlagil Canyon of all locations!!!

Quickly we start seeing basalt columns poke out alongside the riverbed. Lastly. They develop longer and longer. An hour into our hike, we’ve made it.

The canyon, lined with basalt columns in every direction, and a gravel hiking path along the wide of it.

By now, it’s raining VERY exhausting as we come to the primary a part of the basalt canyon. My hood is pulled tightly round my face and my digital camera is an angular paunch beneath my rain jacket.

Nonetheless — that is astounding.

What surprises me essentially the most is how so lots of the basalt columns are curved into twisting shapes. They don’t all come out straight! That is the work of 1000’s of years of lava assembly a robust glacial river. And never all of them are hexagonal basalt columns — some have 4, 5, or seven sides.

The water? It’s actually that turquoise, vivid and milky. It jogs my memory of the brightly saturated rivers in Bosnia, the neon blue lakes in Slovenia.

We stroll all the way down to a tall, slender rock slab overlooking the river, and it’s crowded with folks. Who climbs a construction that harmful — within the rain?! One flawed step in both route and also you’re lifeless!

I refuse to go up there — however the water’s edge could be good. I have to get a shot from there.

Then I step into the mud, and my foot is engulfed practically to my ankles. Why did I not put on my waterproof boots?! (Effectively, simple, Kate. You’ve got unhealthy arches and might’t hike in your Hunter wellies, even with insoles. You selected your mountain climbing boots for right now. You didn’t know it will be THIS muddy.)

I can’t get wherever all the way down to the water’s edge.

Amanda standing in the rain at the bottom of the canyon near the water, waving and wearing a bright turquoise coat.

Amanda, having chosen a pair of waterproof boots that she will be able to truly hike in, makes it all the way down to the sting of the water.

Kate taking a smiling selfie next to the canyon, wearing a bright yellow hooded raincoat on top of a hot pink coat.

I attempt to placate myself with a selfie, smiling via the bathe.

After about half-hour on the canyon, we determine to move again. We trudge again in silence, the rain pounding down round us.

Fittingly, 20 minutes later or so, the rain slows to a drizzle, then stops.

Are we going again? Hell no. We have to pee.

Another angle of the canyon with columns of basalt twisting and turning in different directions.

Driving to the West Aspect

By the point we get again to our automobile, now we have one objective: get to the toilet on the west facet. Or any lavatory, actually. Seven minutes later, we’re within the car parking zone — the place a public restroom is ready. THANK GOD.

We run into the toilet and ACK — we have to pay, and we left our wallets within the automobile! I seize my telephone, pull up Apple Pay (extraordinarily helpful in Iceland), and scan my telephone. We’re in.

Lastly, we’re capable of leisurely discover the west facet of the canyon. Right here you may climb down stairs to a platform. I determine to move down; Amanda sticks to the highest.

A long downward staircase leading to a platform overlooking the canyon.
Another view of the canyon, with the water here appearing so turquoise it's almost bright green.

After an extended climb down, I’m left with a shocking view in each instructions of the gorge, together with incredible views of the bizarre curving basalt columns. Sure, it was well worth the go to.

Nonetheless, these stairs aren’t any joke. I depend them as I ascend and I’ve to cease at round 130. Lengthy earlier than that I’m stopping to catch my breath.

I meet up with Amanda on the high. The views from the car parking zone are nowhere pretty much as good because the views on the platform.

And I feel to myself, Would this have been value it if I had solely gone to the west facet and never achieved the hike?

And even with out waterproof pants or waterproof footwear, I’m so glad I did the total hike.

There’s nothing like seeing this place up shut.

(For the file, I’m vigilant about rain pants and waterproof boots for the remainder of the journey. They come in useful on the waterfalls that soak you want Kvernufoss and Gljúfrabúi.)

Two people posing for a selfie on top of a very tall, very narrow piece of rock above the canyon.

Security at Studlagil Canyon

One factor that strikes me each time I go to Iceland is how few security precautions are in place. Whether or not you’re strolling on smoking floor at Hverir or standing on the sting of a cliff at Múlagljúfur Canyon, Icelanders have exceptional confidence in folks’s skill to remain protected.

You would possibly get a rubber mat on the pathway. That’s it. Railings? Ha. Workers? Nearly by no means.

It made my palms sweat seeing how many individuals teetered on the slender sheet of canyon within the rain. So a lot of them might have simply fallen to their deaths.

On the west facet of the river is an indication from Grund Farm urging security. “This gorge is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS and demand nice care; additionally, the river is chilly and has a quick present. By no means go to the cliff edges — falling off can imply loss of life.

When on the gorge and wherever else on this farm, you’re accountable for your self.”

I couldn’t assist however assume that it may be useful to have this signal on the facet the place folks truly hike.

Even so — I didn’t go close to the scary edges. I like to recommend that you simply avoid them, too. No Instagram shot is value your life.

A black and white shot of hooded hikers in the rain taking photos of the canyon.
The water might be as grey as this photograph.

A Warning on Water Shade

You may go to Studlagil Canyon year-round, however you could be dissatisfied should you are available late summer time. Studlagil Canyon’s green-blue water is considered one of its fundamental attracts, nevertheless it’s solely that coloration when the Jökla’s water stage is low.

In late August or early September, the plant runs water via the dam, which turns the river grey or brown. This may additionally occur when there’s extreme rain or glacier soften, normally throughout the summer time.

Amanda and I visited in August 20, 2022, and this was a legit concern we had as we deliberate our go to. Even so, we didn’t want to fret — the water was nonetheless vivid turquoise. We lucked out.

You might need to verify situations by Instagram or Google Maps for current updates. And you’ll at all times head to the west facet first to take a look at the colour earlier than doing the hike.

Hikers walking on a path through grassy green farmland.

Tips on how to Get to Studlagil Canyon

Studlagil Canyon is a brief drive from the Ring Street, however you may not get to the fitting place with out the assistance of Google Maps. The East Aspect, which is marked “Stuðlagil Canyon (East Aspect Parking)” on Google Maps, is a 16-minute drive from the Ring Street.

From the Ring Street, flip onto street 923. From right here you drive previous Hákonarstaði Farm and switch left on the signal for Klaustursel Farm. You’ll quickly see the car parking zone subsequent to the white bridge.

The West Aspect, which is marked “Stuðlagil Canyon” on Google Maps, is a 20-minute drive from the Ring Street. As an alternative of turning left at Klaustursel, proceed driving till you see Farm Grund, the place the point of view is.

The 2 sides are a seven-minute drive from one another.

Please understand that there are bathrooms ONLY on the west facet.

Both facet of Studlagil Canyon is about an hourlong drive from Egilsstaðir.

A close-up of super-short hexagonal columns sticking out of the turquoise water.

The place to Keep Close to Studlagil Canyon

For those who’re seeking to keep close to Studlagil Canyon, I like to recommend staying within the city of Egilsstaðir, which is the most important metropolis in East Iceland (admittedly, with a inhabitants of 2500, it’s extra of a village than a metropolis).

We stayed at Lyngás Guesthouse in Egillsstaðir, and it was a fantastic selection. This price range resort felt so much like a university dorm, however in a great way. We had a easy room with twin beds, and there was a kitchen and several other particular person bathrooms and showers on the ground, so we by no means needed to wait to make use of them. Every part was glowing clear.

See extra locations to remain in Egillsstaðir right here.

Two hot water pools submerged in a cold lake, several people luxuriating in the warm water.
I liked the new swimming pools within the chilly lake on the Vök Baths!

Extra Issues to Do in East Iceland

I used to be shocked how a lot I loved East Iceland. It’s way over only a place to drive via rapidly.

The Vök Baths in Egilsstaðir are my favourite scorching springs in Iceland — severely! I went to so a lot of them, however this one stood out for its distinctive scorching swimming pools inside a lake, fashionable and cozy services, scrumptious meals within the cafe, and slashes you would order!

We went to the Vök Baths proper after mountain climbing Studlagil Canyon and it was simply what we wanted after an extended, moist hike.

Be sure you go to the stunning city of Seyðisfjörður. Seyðisfjörður is a couple of 30-minute drive from Egilsstaðir on the coast of Jap Iceland. It grew to become considered one of my favourite small cities in Iceland, stuffed with rainbows and artwork and hovering mountains!

For those who in a single day in Egilsstaðir, seize breakfast on the 50’s-style Skálinn Diner the following morning! It’s not fairly an American diner, nevertheless it scratched my itch for a diner breakfast!

And the drive alongside the Eastfjords from Egilsstaðir to Djúpivogur was essentially the most lovely stretch of our Iceland street journey! Each flip was a jaw-dropper, with mountains and fjords so far as the attention might see.

A much dryer Kate taking a selfie in front of the canyon in just her hot pink coat.
The rain stopped! Yay!

Is Studlagil Canyon Price It?

I admit that I used to be depressing for lots of my Studlagil Canyon expertise. It wasn’t the very best time on the journey by far. Even so, I’m so glad that I did it. Sure, it was well worth the aggravation — even within the rain! Even having to pee the entire time! That’s how you understand a vacation spot is particular.

However is it value it for you? It relies upon. Do you might have a minimal of three.5 hours free to drive right here from the Ring Street, stroll all the way in which to the canyon and again, and drive to the opposite facet for a glance? Do you might have the bodily skill to do the two-hour hike or climb the 130+ stairs to the western viewpoint?

And let’s not overlook the climate! Does the climate look okay? If not, are you okay strolling within the rain? Do you might have applicable rain gear? (It is best to.)

I don’t assume Studlagil Canyon is for each traveler. However should you acquired via this publish and your response was, “Hell sure!” I feel you’re going to take pleasure in your self right here.

Extra on Iceland:

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Have you ever been to Studlagil Canyon? Any suggestions? Share away!

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