With over 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland, it’s nearly impossible to know them all. Some are more significant than others, but it may be challenging to find an Icelander who doesn’t know the waterfall Öxarárfoss. Standing at 13m (44ft) and 6m (20ft) wide, Öxarárfoss flows from the Öxará into the Almannagjá gorge with its pristine and deep blue water. The name Öxaráfoss translates to the “The waterfall in the Ax River.” The water continues to flow from the gorge into Iceland’s largest lake, Thingvallavatn.
Öxarárfoss is located in Þingvellir National Park, which is an important historical area but also geological significance. The ravines and gorges within the park are the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates pulling apart. The park and Öxarárfoss attract visitors year-round for its incredible beauty. The peak season is in the summer, but Öxarárfoss is exceptional during the winter as it can completely freeze over.
History of Öxaráfoss
Þingvellir National Park is one of Iceland’s most popular attractions not only because of its geological wonders but because of its history. The park is where the first Icelandic parliament, Alþing, was founded. Alþing dates back to 930 AD, and the parliament still exists today but in Reykjavík. For many years Icelanders from all over the country would travel here to pass laws, voice opinions, give trials, and even battle.
Not only has Öxarárfoss seen a large part of Iceland’s history as a country, but it has been an active part of it. Interestingly enough, scientists believe Öxarárfoss was human-made. Evidence shows that the Öxará riverbed has been diverted to create what’s now known as Öxarárfoss. The waterfall was used to fill the ravine with water, which made many pools. These pools were used for some of Iceland’s darker history. Women convicted of adultery and child murder would face execution by drowning. Öxarárfoss also stood witness during the famous witch trials. Most of the convicted were men, going against European and American trends.
hiking to Öxaráfoss
You can find a few easy hikes within the Þingvellir National Park. The Öxarárfoss Waterfall trail loop is 2.6 miles but can be shortened. The path is well paved and with wooden stairs. The area around Öxarárfoss has a wooden deck for the visitors. Not only do you get close to Öxarárfoss, but the trail also takes you through the Almannagjá gorge.