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Mulagljufur Canyon: A Hiker’s Paradise in Iceland

Updated: Apr 18

If we asked you to envision a landscape from an epic movie such as Lord of the Rings, you’d probably conjure up images that look just like our Mulagljufur Canyon. Steep cliffs covered in moss and other lush, green vegetation with cascading waterfalls tumbling into the river below.


If you’re a fan of the outdoors, you do not want to miss a visit to this canyon if you’re ever in Iceland. Already a favorite amongst nature lovers and hikers alike, Mulagljufur Canyon’s popularity keeps growing. Here’s why it should be on your trip itinerary and what you can expect from this natural wonder.


Mulagljufur Canyon


What Makes Mulagljufur Canyon So Special?


Mulagljufur Canyon is a breathtaking canyon that’s 2 kilometers long and 20 meters wide. With a myriad of hiking trails in and around the canyon, Mulagljufur has become the place to be for avid hikers. But it’s not just its aesthetics and activities that make it so special; it’s the rare and protected Icelandic moss that covers its cliffs. This moss is such a sensitive part of our ecosystem that it can take decades to recover from damage, if at all. 


So, stick to the trails when hiking in Mulagljufur Canyon. The names Mulagljufur Canyon and Mulafoss (the waterfall in the canyon) are a bit of a mystery. It translates to ‘Mules Canyon’ and ‘Mules Waterfall’, but despite much speculation, no one really knows what relevance mules had to the canyon. Especially since the other waterfall inside the canyon is called Hangandifoss (hanging waterfall). This waterfall is known as one of the tallest in Iceland, but once again, no mules are involved. 


How was Mulagljufur Canyon Formed?


Essentially, Mulagljufur Canyon was created by the Fjadra River that still flows through it today. The canyon is the result of millions of years of erosion caused by the river carving its way through the earth.


Where is Mulagljufur Canyon in Iceland?


Mulagljufur Canyon can be found on the south coast of Iceland. It’s about 372 kilometers from the capital city of Reykjavík, so if you were banking on making it a day trip, it’s better to do it from Skafafell National Park (just 45 kilometers or a 40-minute drive away). The canyon is also conveniently located next to our popular Ring Road route, making it the perfect stop along a road trip.



mulagljufur canyon iceland


How to Get to Mulagljufur Canyon


There are two ways you can visit Mulagljufur Canyon:


Via Tour


There are plenty of tour operators and local guides that will get you to Mulagljufur Canyon. Although it’s not a destination often found as part of existing tour packages (except for hiking tours), you can always arrange for a custom, private tour.


Via a Self-drive


We always prefer driving ourselves, as that will leave you at the steering wheel of your trip (literally and figuratively). You can decide where and when to go and how you want to get there.


Driving to Mulagljufur Canyon is very easy. Start driving south from Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon on the Ring Road. You will cross two rivers before turning right onto a gravel road that will take you straight to the parking lot of Mulagljufur Canyon. We recommend you make this journey with a 4x4 since you must take on river crossings and gravel roads.

Camper rental Iceland

When is the Best Time to Visit Mulagljufur Canyon?


Since visiting Mulagljufur Canyon is an outdoor activity and especially popular due to its various hiking trails, we recommend you plan your trip during the warmer months of the year (April to September). Just remember that June to September is summertime in Iceland and considered peak season, so you might experience more foot traffic at the canyon during this time.


Taking a Hike in Mulagljufur Canyon


Whether you’re a fit and avid hiker or a beginner who just wants to admire the canyon’s beauty – you will find a suitable hiking trail for you at Mulagljufur. Take a look at which of these fit the bill:


The Short Mulagljufur Canyon Hike


This hike is 3.86 kilometers long and will take 1.5 to 2.5 hours, depending on your pace. It’s considered easy to moderate in terms of difficulty levels. It will include some uphill climbing and creek crossing, so it might not be suitable for smaller children and older people.


The Long Mulagljufur Canyon Hike


This trail is 5.77 kilometers long and will take roughly 2.5 hours, depending on your pace. It’s considered moderate to challenging in terms of difficulty levels. This hike is essentially an extended version of the short hike where you will keep hiking up the mountain from the ridge. We would only suggest taking on this hike as an avid hiker with plenty of experience.


mulagljufur canyon hike

Other Things to Do & See Near Mulagljufur Canyon


If you’re planning on visiting Mulagljufur Canyon, don’t miss out on the following things to do and see around it:


Where to Stay Near Mulagljufur Canyon


There are quite a few accommodation options to choose from near Mulagljufur Canyon. You can stay at the Adventure Hotel in Hof for a touch of luxury or one of our more unique experiences like at Fjallsarlon Overnight Adventure.


Our recommendation would be to rent a campervan and book a camping spot at Skaftafell Campground. This is the most affordable option and will allow you to make a day trip to Mulagljufur Canyon as well as explore the park and all its interesting sights.


Mulagljufur Canyon: A Ring Road Must


Since the canyon lies just off the Ring Road, there really is no excuse not to make it a stop whenever you’re on this famous route. Renting a campervan in Reykjavik upon arrival on the island is the best and most affordable way to do a Ring Road road trip. It’s also the most comfortable way to go camping, including at Skaftafell, where you’re just a hop, skip, and jump away from making lifelong memories at Mulagljufur Canyon.

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