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Sigöldugljúfur Canyon: The Icelandic Gem Off the Beaten Track

Iceland is riddled with scenic treasures, and Sigöldugljúfur Canyon is one of them. Sigöldugljúfur is one of those hidden-away gems that is slowly becoming more popular. It can be a little bit tricky to get here, but it’s well worth it.


This is the perfect place for stunning photography and has the most peace of mind-giving atmosphere you could get without a hot spring. Find out all you need to know about Sigöldugljúfur in this article.


Sigöldugljúfur Canyon

Capture the Stunning Sigöldugljúfur


One of the most amazing things about Iceland is that it is a constantly changing island. There are amazing spots there today that might not be there tomorrow, and tomorrow might bring another stunning natural marvel. The joint forces of growing and retreating glaciers, geological changes, and the intervention of humans make this island a cornucopia of amazing natural sights. Sigöldugljúfur is one that is hidden away, not easy to get to, and well worth the effort.


If you manage to get to Sigöldugljúfur on a sunny summer day, the first thing you’ll notice will likely be the strong color contrast. The glacial blue water runs between the raven black lava formed cliffs, and the entire scene has lush elements of green moss and highland flora.


A multitude of waterfalls are scattered along the edges of Sigöldugljúfur, earning it the well-deserved nickname Valley of Tears in Iceland. Very few spots along the trails around this area don’t make for excellent Icelandic photography, but it’s worth taking the time to find those special spots that give you the optimal scenery.


Sigöldugljúfur Canyon waters

History of Sigöldugljúfur


Even though Sigöldugljúfur is a beautiful canyon in the Icelandic Highlands, it took more than Mother Nature to create it. The canyon we see today has been carved out of the lava rock from waters that were once fed by the Tungnaá River. The river used to cover most of the canyon back then, and just like Stuðlagil in Eastern Iceland, Sigöldugljúfur Canyon was uncovered as the result of a man-made project.


In 1978, the construction of a large hydroelectric dam was started at the top of the Sigalda Hill. The new power production required the use of the Tungnaá River, which diverted a lot of water and made the river in the Sigöldugljúfur Canyon much smaller. Some of the water still comes and gives us that amazing light blue contrast against the dark lava rock around it, but the majestic river has had to give way to another Icelandic natural wonder.


Finding Sigöldugljúfur in Iceland


If you feel like catching the next hidden gem and wondering where is the Valley of Tears in Iceland? Well, you’ll need to head out to the middle of the southern parts of the Icelandic Highlands. This means traveling along a few Icelandic F-roads.


When you’ve managed to move away from all the things to do in Reykjavík, jump straight on to Ring Road 1 in Iceland and head east. A couple of kilometers after Selfoss, you can either turn off to Road 30 or drive a little further to Road 26. Both options will get you on the same F-road onto Sigöldugljúfur.


If you get on Road 30, you need to continue on Road 32, then on F26, and then F208 until you reach Sigöldugljúfur. If you go on Road 26, you just continue until you reach the F-road and the gateway to the Icelandic Highlands. The trip from Reykjavík should take about 2.5 hours.


Visit the Valley in Tears

Sigöldugljúfur Accessibility


Everyone should have the opportunity to see all of Iceland’s amazing spots and hidden treasures. Unfortunately, this might prove challenging for Sigöldugljúfur Canyon. Getting to the gravel parking lot in Sigöldugljúfur is easy with the right car. Still, after that, there is about a kilometer of hiking on unsteady ground until you reach the canyon.


Once you’re there, the paths around the Valley of Tears in Iceland require a steady foot and a sturdy boot. Keep this in mind when planning your trip.


Hiking Around Sigöldugljúfur


Given the location and the lack of roads, it’s very clear that this area is perfect for short and long hikes. Since it doesn’t take long to get here, this is actually a pretty good area for a day trip. This means that you don’t have to get a tent and make massive preparations before visiting Sigöldugljúfur, you can just pack what you need for the day and enjoy yourself.


What to Think About When Hiking Sigöldugljúfur


If you haven’t already, check out our ultimate guide to Iceland hiking before you go on this mission. Specifically, for Sigöldugljúfur, you should treat this as one of the day hikes and focus on food, water, and snacks. Clothing will also be key, as even the best of days up here will likely be a bit windy.


This area has no amenities, so pack everything you need and fill up the campervan before you head into the Highlands. The closest bathroom will likely be at the Highland Center along the F26, just north of Sigöldugljúfur. Keep this in mind on your travels in the area.



Valley of Tears, Iceland

Hiking Trails Close to Sigöldugljúfur


If you go a bit to the south along the F208 from Sigöldugljúfur, you’ll find the Landmannalaugar area. This is highly regarded by many hikers, both local and international.

If you continue north along the F26, you’ll reach Þórisvatn, which is Iceland’s second-largest lake and the reservoir for Sigalda Power Station. This area has a myriad of hiking trails and camping spots, so take the time to explore this area after Sigöldugljúfur.


Start Your Sigöldugljúfur Adventure


Now you know everything you need to know about Sigöldugljúfur in Iceland. Getting there is a piece of cake for the determined, and it won’t cost you more than a day to explore the area, even If you start in the capital. There is only one thing left to do: rent your campervan in Reykjavik and get going!


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