Located near the legendary Golden Circle of Iceland — as well as Gullfoss waterfall, Faxi waterfall, Bruarfoss waterfall, and Hrunamannahreppur — Brúarhlöð Canyon is often overlooked by visitors; but you should not be one of the people who miss out on visiting this natural area if you enjoy short hikes and tranquil nature walks.
Brúarhlöð Canyon in Iceland
Known for its extraordinary formations of rock which have been carved out over the centuries by the waters of the Hvitá River — which translates to English as White River due to its chalky appearance because the water is filled with fine sediment from the Langjokull glacier, where it originates — Brúarhlöð Canyon eventually became a gorgeous gorge.
Although Brúarhlöð Canyon is relatively narrower than other canyons in Iceland, it is deep and steep thanks to the powerful current of the Hvita River.
The cliffs which surround Brúarhlöð Canyon are comprised of a substance called breccia, which is composed of visibly large angular broken fragments of various minerals, sediments, and glass that was originally formed by eruptions and other volcanic forces, earthquakes and other tectonic events, and hyaloclastite origins.
The appearance of the cold chalky water of the Hvita river creates a glowing illusion against the dark rock sides of the canyon — and its sharp and fast flowing current is perfect for an adventurous river rafting trip to give you an entirely different point of view of Brúarhlöð Canyon, as rafting is very popular along the river.
Local folkloric legend in Iceland claims that the two pillars from the lookout point at the top of the trail are trolls. The shorter one is described as a female troll, while the other one, who seems to have a dog on its head, is the male troll. The story explains that the trolls were stuck out in the river when the sun rose and turned to stone.
The current bridge at Brúarhlöð Canyon was built during the 1950s and served as the main local and traveler route between the villages of Reykholt and Fludir in Southwestern Iceland until 2010 — but it is still in use today and can accommodate both cars and horses.
However, it was not the first bridge, which was built in 1906 but was washed away by flooding of the river in 1929. Although a replacement bridge was constructed immediately after this event, another significant flooding of the river destroyed it the following year before the current bridge was built.
If you enjoy hiking, consider going up to the top — do so carefully — and reach the observation point to experience a breathtaking view of Brúarhlöð Canyon. As you ascend the short trail that winds up to the canyon, you will see vast plains covered by grasses and mossy rocks — as well as the otherworldly pillars and dark rock formations in all their glory. You can even enjoy a picnic if the weather cooperates.
Final Boarding Call
iNo admission fee is charged to access Brúarhlöð Canyon, which is available 24 hours per day and is located off of Highway 30 approximately 116 kilometers from Reykjavik. Allow yourself a minimum of one hour and 40 minutes to drive there.
Please click here for links to additional articles of my experiences in Iceland via this Iceland: Itinerary and Master Guide.
All photographs ©2018 by Brian Cohen.