Jökulsárgljúfur National Park was established in 1973 and when Vatnajökull National Park was established in 2008, Jökulsárgljúfur became a part of it. Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon, the riverbed of Jökulsá á Fjöllum, one of Iceland’s largest rivers, that has for thousands of years flowed from beneath the glacier Vatnajökull and has made its marking in the landscape on its 200 km way to Öxarfjörđur Bay.
Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Europe and covers an area of about 8000 square kilometers which is close to 8% of the area of the whole country. However, in recent years it has been melting rapidly due the global warming, after having been in good balance for hundreds of years. The increased melting of the ice has also increased the water flow in the rivers that take their source in Vatnajökull. At present time the glacier ice is on average 380 meters thick but the maximum thickness is close to 1000 meters. There are numerous volcanoes and craters hidden beneath the ice cap of Vatnajökull that have in the past erupted many times and often caused devastating floods of meltwater.
Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon was created thousands of years ago, during several volcanic eruptions beneath the icecap of Vatnajökull Glacier that caused catastrophic floods of meltwater that carved and shaped the magnificent Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon. The name means the Glacial River Canyon. The canyon is about 25 kilometers long and in the 120 meters deep canyon are three major waterfalls.
Dettifoss is the largest waterfall in the river and Europe´s most powerful, about 100 meters high and about 500 meters wide. A short distance from Dettifoss are two other spectacular waterfalls, Selfoss waterfall and Hafragilsfoss waterfall. There are numerous spectacular rock formations and sights of interest in Jökulsárgljúfur and its surroundings.
Hljóđaklettar and Ásbyrgi
Hljóđaklettar or the Echo Rocks are located in the southern part of the canyon and Ásbyrgi Canyon, which is also a part of Jökulsárgljúfur is an amazing wonder of Nature. There are numerous marked hiking trails in the Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon but much of the canyon area is only easily accessible in summer. Several self drive tour packages and guided bus tours, incluing a visit to Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon are available at www.tour.is