Urriðafoss

ABOUT:

Location: 63.924614, -20.672193

Region: Southern

Height: 12 ft (4 m)

River: Þjórsá

Urriðafoss is Iceland’s largest waterfall in volume, with a high river drop rate of 12,700 cfs (360 cms). The waterfall is located on the Þjórsá, the longest river in Iceland. In Icelandic, Urriðafoss translates to “Trout Waterfall.” The Þjórsá is a famous river for salmon and trout fishing. Even seals are reported to travel up the river to Urriðafoss to catch salmon. 

In terms of height, Urriðafoss is relatively small, standing at only around 12 ft (4 m). However, it stretches across the Þjórsá river, creating several small islands with an average width of 750 ft (229 m). Ice can build up on the waterfall upwards to 98 ft (30 m) during cold conditions, causing the river to overflow.

The river is also set on the edge of the Þjórsárhraun lava field. This lava field resulted from the greatest lava flow since the Ice Age.

History:

As mentioned, Urriðafoss is the most voluminous waterfall in the country, and this is after nearly a 50% reduction due to 5 established dams on the Þjórsá. However, there is a proposal for a hydropower station to be built at the lower end of the waterfall. In terms of energy, the volume of water flow around Urriðafoss would make it an ideal resource. Unfortunately, if this were to be constructed, this could be the end of Urriðafoss. This has sparked many protests to save the waterfall and protect the ecosystem of the Þjórsá, as this area is where the most freshwater marine life of the river can be found.

hiking:

Length: 0.1 mi (0.2 km)

Elevation gain: 0 ft

Route Type: Out & back 

Urriðafoss doesn’t offer much hiking, and the waterfall is easy to access with a short, gentle walk on a well-maintained path. While simple, its ease of access and accommodations such as picnic tables can make an ideal spot for a picnic. 

AllTrails does have this hike listed in their database.

Directions:

Viewable from Road?: Yes

Nearest Major Town or City: Selfoss

Distance from Reykjavík: 48 mi (77 km)

Urriðafoss is marked on Google Maps, and it’s hard to miss the sizeable Þjórsá river. The drive from Reykjavík is a little over an hour but only under 20 minutes outside the city of Selfoss. While not a popular stop, Urriðafoss is easy to access right off the Ring Road (Route 1). To find Urriðafoss head east from Reykjavík on the Ring Road until you reach Urriðafossvegur, right before the river. This road will take you to the parking lot.

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