Ásbyrgi, Iceland

Ásbyrgi Canyon
Ásbyrgi Canyon

Ásbyrgi at a Glance

A lush canyon shaped like a horseshoe and with amazing scenery, Ásbyrgi is part of the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park and one of nature's wonders.  Located north of Dettifoss, the landscape here is green with several tall trees and plenty of flora to explore and admire. As well as the Ptarmigan and Ravens there are rare species, including Artic Fox and Gyrfalcon, while the steep walls of the canyon provide the right climate for other flora species. The surrounding woodlands are a good example of how forests in Iceland once were, with extensive shrubbery that includes birch, willow, mountain ash, fir, pine and larch.

Within Ásbyrgi, there are a great variety of hiking trails for adventure-loving tourists, of anything from a half hour to seven hours' duration. Some routes are marked with posts while others are not, and the trails are of varying difficulty levels. For example, some popular trails include 1) Botnstjörn pond, 2) Eyjan hill in Ásbyrgi, 3) Through the woods, 4) Below Eyjan hill, 5) Áshöfði circle (there are two versions of this trail - across Áshöfði hill or around it), 6) Klappir, 7) Kúahvammur circle and 8) Kvíar circle.

Ásbyrgi Canyon is approximately 3.5 km long and 1.1 km wide, divided for over half its length by a distinctive 25 m high rock formation called Eyjan or "the island," which provides hikers with stunning views. It is thought that Ásbyrgi was formed by a catastrophic glacial flooding of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River, the first occurrence between eight and ten thousand years ago and the second around three thousand years later. Legend has it that the horseshoe shape of the canyon, dubbed Sleipnir's footprint, was formed when one of the feet of Odin's eight-legged horse touched the ground as the Norse God rode by, and it is said that Ásbyrgi is the home to huldufólf or "hidden people," who dwell in the cracks of the cliffs around the canyon.