Sigöldugljúfur Canyon: Iceland’s Hidden Gem

Sigöldugljúfur Canyon

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

    The Land of Fire and Ice is like a large Easter egg hunt when it comes to stunning views and scenic photo opportunities. The only difference is that, in this case, the easter eggs are all over the place, never run out, and never get boring.

    Sigöldugljúfur is one of our favorite scenic spots to visit. Partly because it still doesn’t get too many visitors, and we don’t have to worry about parking, overcrowding, or having strangers in our pictures. Keep reading and find out all you need to know about Sigöldugljúfur in Iceland to make your visit the best it can be!

    Unveiling the Beauty of Sigöldugljúfur Canyon

    If you are looking for hidden gems that pack a punch in Iceland, you should add Sigöldugljúfur to your list. Sigöldugljúfur Canyon is a medium-sized canyon in Iceland that is getting increasing attention due to how strikingly beautiful it is. With a myriad of waterfalls, incredible fauna, and an outlandish rocky landscape, this is truly an oasis in the Icelandic wilderness.

    A Cascading Oasis in the Icelandic Highlands

    Nicknamed the Valley of Tears in Iceland, Sigöldugljúfur is the home of multiple stunning waterfalls. These can be spotted all along the edges of the canyon and used to help fill up the river that once ran through here.

    Before this was a canyon, Sigöldugljúfur was a strong river connected to the Tungnaá River. When the hydroelectric dam, Sigala, was constructed, it changed the layout of the entire area, and the Sigöldugljúfur Canyon was “created”.

    Sigöldugljúfur Canyon

    Unique Features: Waterfalls, Vivid Colors, and Volcanic Landscapes

    The water running through the canyon has a deep glacier-blue color that brings your mind to a serene and calm place. The gentle river flows calmly between the steep edges, and the canyon walls are covered with lush green and yellow moss and highland flora.

    The dark volcanic rock creates an amazing contrast to the otherwise colorful Sigöldugljúfur area, making it excellent for stunning photography.

    Exploring Sigöldugljúfur:

    Sigöldugljúfur Canyon has a lot to offer any visitor. Here’s what you need to know about exploring this incredible canyon.

    Hiking Trails and Scenic Viewpoints

    To be completely honest about Sigöldugljúfur, very few points around the Valley of Tears in Iceland make for bad photos. You will be able to soak up many different unique and scenic views along the rim of the canyon, and the best tip we can give is to stay off the moss and explore the area!

    Not far away from Sigöldugljúfur, you’ll find Landmannalaugar, or “the People’s Pools” as they’re called. This well-known and completely stunning area is incredibly popular for hikers. This is the place to go if you’re looking for colorful landscapes and amazing views. Along these hiking trails, you can dip into some of the hot springs to relax for a couple of minutes.

    valley of tears iceland

    Accessibility and Things to Consider

    This is in the Icelandic Highlands, so this is unfortunately not a very accessible place. This means you must be able to walk for a couple of kilometers on uneven (and often wet) ground, which is unsuitable for everyone.

    It also means that you’ll need to make sure you have good enough boots to deal with some rough handling, even more so if you’re taking some time to explore the surrounding area and get the best possible pictures.

    Helpful Photography Tips for Taking Snapshots of Sigöldugljúfur

    The following helpful tips will allow you to take that perfect snapshot of the canyon:

    • Angle the camera and stand in such a position that you have the mountains as a dramatic backdrop in your canyon photos. 
    • Many swear by taking photos during the colder months of the year here in Iceland, as the sky is believed to be the clearest during these months.
    • Set your aperture between f/2.8 and f/5.6.
    • Remember to take photos not only from within the canyon, but also to walk along the rim to get a few snaps of the panoramic views of the canyon and the Icelandic landscape.
    • Set your ISO between 800 and 3200.
    • Taking photos as the sun rises or sets over the canyon makes for breathtaking snapshots.
    • Set your shutter speed between 15 and 30 seconds.
    • If you don’t want to DIY your photography session here in the canyon, you can always book a spot and join one of the photography tours that has the canyon as a destination.

     sigöldugljúfur viewpoint

    Planning Your Visit to Sigöldugljúfur:

    The following with help you plan your visit to Sigöldugljúfur:

    Location and Getting There

    The Sigöldugljúfur Canyon is not located near our main roads, so if you’re planning on making this a quick top along your Ring Road 1 road trip, you’re out of luck.

    To reach the Valley of Tears, you must go a little bit north of Fjallabak Nature Reserve, deep in the southern Icelandic Highlands. The easiest way to get there is by taking the exit from Ring Road 1, turning off to drive Road 26, continuing on F26, and then taking the F208 to the canyon. Once you’ve parked the car at a small gravel lot, you’ll need to hike for about a kilometer before you reach Sigöldugljúfur.

    Since you’re going on the F-roads in Iceland, you’ll need a 4x4 to get here. If you don’t have the opportunity to do so, there are a few tours that will take you to the area.

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    Best Time to Visit and Weather Conditions

    Since Sigöldugljúfur is located in the Icelandic Highlands, you’ll need to go sometime in the summertime. The F-roads close in the fall and don’t reopen until the spring, so the only time to visit this gem on your own is in the summertime.

    There are ways of getting there in the winter if you’re really determined, but it requires a lot of planning, work, and expert advice before you go. The Icelandic Highlands are treacherous in the wintertime, but, with the right gear and guidance, this hidden gem will be worth it.

    We recommend getting to Sigöldugljúfur sometime before lunch, preferably on a day with fairly clear skies. This will give you plenty of time to explore the area, and avoiding bad weather is essential when hitting the Highlands.

    Essential Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Experience

    If you are looking for a mild adventure with a big reward, Sigöldugljúfur will be one of your best bets. It takes a while to get there, but if you go with a 4x4, a fully stocked snack pack, and a camera with a full battery, you will have an amazing time. Check out our ultimate Iceland packing list to see what you need to pack depending on what you do and when you go.

    You need to remember that you have to have plenty of gas in the tank to ensure you can get there and back without worry. You also need to ensure you have something to eat and drink since this is in the middle of the wilderness. Now that you know exactly what to do and how to do it, you only need to rent your 4x4 campervan in Iceland and get on your way!

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