Rjúkandi, also known as Rjúkandafoss, is the twelfth tallest waterfall in Iceland. Rjúkandi contains multiple drops, but collectively it reaches 305 ft (93 m). Its impressive height makes it hard to miss, but it’s also one of the few significant waterfalls that can be seen directly off the northern portion of the Ring Road (Route 1). However, Rjúkandi doesn’t receive many visitors.
Rjúkandi is formed from the Ysta-Rjúkandi river. This river is a direct sister of two nearby rivers, the Mið-Rjúkandi and the Fremsta-Rjúkandi. All three contain a series of waterfalls that can be seen from the roadside, though the Rjúkandi is the only one named and of significance.
The Rjúkandi rivers find their source from the Sandfell mountain are and then make their way down where they descend into the Jökuldalur valley. The Jökuldalur valley is carved out by the Jökulsá a Brú river, also known as Jökla. It should be noted that the official signage reports Rjúkandi at 456 ft (139 m), but this appears to be the collective height of the stream cascading down into the valley.
Rjúkandi is named after the three Rjúkandi rivers, but the name most likely derives from the word rjúka. In Icelandic, rjúka means to smoke, steam, or blow away.
Length: 0.5 mi (0.8 km)
Elevation gain: 137 ft (42 m)
Route Type: Out & back
The hike to Rjúkandi is labeled as Rjúkandafoss on AllTrails. “Hike” is a loose term for this, as it’s a short walk from the parking area to the viewing area. There are reports of secondary trail with increased difficulty and length. This alternative trail will lead you to the top of the waterfall and give you a view of the Jökuldalur valley.
Viewable from Road?: Yes
Nearest Major Town or City: Egilsstaðir
Distance from Reykjavík: 364 mi (586 km)
Rjúkandi is located in the northern section of the Eastern Region. To drive from Reykjavík to Rjúkandi would take around 7 hrs and 20 mins. The good news is Rjúkandi is located directly off the Ring Road (Route 1), so the directions are easy. Several other waterfalls are named Rjúkandi, but Google maps list this one as Rjúkandafoss. There is a pull-over area to park your car in.