NatureCanyonsStuðlagil Canyon: A Natural Wonder in Iceland
Tourist walking on the bottom of Studlagil Canyon with basalt columns.

Stuðlagil Canyon: A Natural Wonder in Iceland

Imagine standing in a beautiful canyon, surrounded by towering basalt columns, with a powerful glacial river flowing at your feet. Welcome to Studlagil Canyon, an otherworldly wonder hidden in eastern Iceland! In this blog post, we’ll unveil everything you need to know about visiting this unique destination, from its fascinating geological formation to hiking trails, viewpoints, and nearby attractions. Prepare to be captivated by the awe-inspiring beauty of Studlagil Canyon!

Short Summary

  • Explore Iceland’s hidden gem, Stuðlagil Basalt Canyon, with awe-inspiring basalt columns and serene surroundings!
  • Hike the East Bank Trail or explore from West Bank Viewpoint for an unforgettable experience.
  • Get ready for your adventure by preparing itinerary & packing accordingly, rent a 4x4 vehicle to make it even more exciting!

The Formation of Stuðlagil canyon

A view of Stuðlagil Canyon, iceland's hidden gems

Stulagil Basalt Canyon is a natural masterpiece sculpted by Mother Nature herself. The breathtaking basalt columns adorning the canyon walls are a result of columnar jointing, a mesmerizing process where superheated magma cools quickly and cracks into long geometric columns, similar to the ones you can see at a basalt column waterfall. Basalt is the most common type of lava rock in Iceland, which adds to the charm of these astonishing rock formations.

Nestled in the Jökuldalur valley, this hidden gem remained relatively undiscovered until the construction of the Kárahnjkar Hydropower Plant in 2009. Prior to this, the canyon was submerged under the powerful glacial river Jökulsá á Br, and the area was inhabited only by sheep. The construction of the hydroelectric plant led to a drastic decrease in the water level, unveiling the beautiful canyon and its unique rock formations in the glacier valley.

As a result, Iceland stulagil basalt canyon has become an increasingly popular destination for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience during their Iceland road trip. With its awe-inspiring basalt columns and serene surroundings, visiting the Stuðlagil Canyon is a must for any nature enthusiast exploring eastern Iceland.

Studlagil Canyon's Location and Accessibility

Situated in eastern Iceland’s Jokuldalur valley, Stuðlagil canyon is conveniently accessible from various points in the country. The canyon is approximately 70 km from Egilsstair, 140 km from Myvatn, and 600 km from Reykjavk. To reach Studlagil Canyon, head north on the Ring Road (Route 1) from Egilsstair, then take road 923 and Jokuldalsvegur.

The canyon can be accessed from both the east and west banks of the Jökla River, offering different perspectives of the striking basalt columns. While no facilities are available on the east side, the west side features a parking lot, toilets (230 ISK), and a cabin selling coffee and snacks near the Jökla River viewpoint.

When planning your visit, be sure to:

  • Save the canyon’s location on Google Maps
  • Be prepared for the challenging gravel road leading to Studlagil Canyon
  • Consider using a 4x4 vehicle for easier access
  • Drive carefully and with a sense of adventure
  • Enjoy the rewarding experience of reaching this hidden gem!

Hiking Trails and Viewpoints at Studlagil Canyon

A view of the West Side of Stuðlagil Canyon in Iceland

Stuðlagil canyon offers two main hiking trails and viewpoints for visitors to marvel at the magnificent basalt columns: the east bank trail and the west bank viewpoint. Embarking on a stulagil canyon hike allows you to fully appreciate the natural wonder that is Studlagil Canyon, as each trail provides a unique perspective.

Let’s explore these trails in more detail!

East Bank Trail

The east bank trail, located on the east side of Stuðlagil Canyon, offers an up-close and personal view of the basalt columns. The trail can be accessed by hiking down to the river from one of the two parking places, with an estimated 1-hour hike (2-hour return walk) to reach the mesmerizing viewpoint over the basalt canyon.

Although the trail is generally flat and easy, there is a short, slightly tricky scramble down to the riverbank, adding a touch of excitement to the hike. As you make your way along the trail, be sure to stay on the designated path and respect the fragile ecosystem surrounding the canyon.

Upon reaching the viewpoint, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the basalt columns and the vibrant blue river below. The east bank trail is perfect for those seeking an immersive, up-close experience with the canyon’s unique formations.

West Bank Viewpoint

The west bank viewpoint offers:

  • A panoramic view of the canyon and its basalt columns
  • Access via a metal staircase from the parking lot at Grund Farm
  • A beautiful perspective of the copper-colored basalt columns and the glistening blue-green water beneath your feet

Although you can’t get down to the river or see the heart of the canyon from this side, the west bank viewpoint still provides a stunning view.

In addition to the breathtaking views, the west bank viewpoint also offers some facilities for visitors, including toilets (250 ISK) and a cabin selling coffee and snacks. While the viewpoint may not provide the same up-close experience as the east bank trail, it’s still an excellent option for those seeking a more accessible and less challenging way to admire the beauty of Studlagil Canyon.

No matter which trail you choose, both the east bank trail and the west bank viewpoint offer unforgettable experiences and stunning views of Stuðlagil Canyon’s magnificent basalt columns. So, lace up your hiking boots and embark on a thrilling adventure to explore one of Iceland’s most captivating natural wonders!

Safety Tips and Regulations

When visiting Stuðlagil Canyon, it’s essential to prioritize safety and adhere to local regulations. Wearing sturdy shoes with decent grip is highly recommended, as the trails can be uneven and the riverbank scramble on the east bank trail can be slightly tricky.

While the vibrant blue river may look inviting, swimming is not advised due to the powerful currents and cold temperatures. Instead, enjoy the beauty of the river from a safe distance on the designated trails and viewpoints.

If you plan on using a drone to capture the stunning scenery, be mindful of other drones and pilots in the area. Many places in Iceland have banned drone usage due to disrespectful behavior, so it’s crucial to exercise caution and follow local regulations when flying your drone in the canyon. By respecting the environment, wildlife, and local customs, you’ll ensure an enjoyable and unforgettable visit to Studlagil Canyon!

Best Time to Visit Studlagil Canyon

The best time to visit Stuðlagil Canyon is between June and August, when the hiking trails are clear and the river is vibrant blue. During these summer months, you’ll be able to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the canyon and its basalt columns without the challenges of snow and ice.

Visiting the canyon outside of these months can be more challenging, as winter conditions can make the trails slippery and difficult to navigate. However, if you’re an experienced hiker and well-prepared for the Icelandic weather, a winter visit can still be a memorable adventure. Just be sure to check weather forecasts and road conditions before embarking on your journey to visit Stuðlagil Canyon.

Nearby Attractions and Activities

While Stuðlagil Canyon is undoubtedly a must-visit destination, there are plenty of other nearby attractions and activities to explore during your Iceland adventure. For instance, Laugavallalaug is a fantastic geothermal pool featuring a naturally heated waterfall cascading into a small pool, making it an excellent spot for a relaxing soak after a day of hiking.

If you’re interested in exploring more canyons, Hafrahvammagljufur is a dramatic 8-kilometer-long canyon that is about 200 meters deep and set in a remote part of the Icelandic highlands. This awe-inspiring canyon is a testament to the power and beauty of Iceland’s natural landscape.

Areal view of Hafrahvammagljufur canyon in Iceland on a sunny day

In addition to natural attractions, the charming town of Seydisfjordur is a must-visit destination in eastern Iceland, a beautiful part of east iceland. Known for its picturesque rainbow road leading to a quaint church and colorful houses, this lovely town is an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll and a taste of Icelandic culture.

The blue church of Seyðisfjörður with rainbow road leading to it in east of Iceland

With so many attractions and activities to choose from, you can easily create a well-rounded and unforgettable Iceland road trip itinerary centered around your visit to Studlagil Canyon. Be sure to take the time to explore the surrounding area and immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty and rich culture of Iceland.

Accommodation Options Near Studlagil Canyon

After an exhilarating day exploring Stuðlagil Canyon, you’ll need a comfortable place to rest and recharge. Thankfully, there are several accommodation options near the canyon to suit a variety of preferences and budgets. The closest settlement to Studlagil Canyon is Egilsstair, which offers a range of accommodation options, including guesthouses, hotels, and campgrounds.

About 25 minutes drive from the canyon, the town of Eiar also features a guesthouse called Skjöldólfsstair, providing a cozy and convenient option for visitors. Other nearby towns also offer hotels and campgrounds, ensuring you’ll have no trouble finding a comfortable place to stay near Studlagil Canyon.

Regardless of your choice, you’re sure to enjoy a restful night’s sleep before continuing your Iceland adventure.

Discovering More Basalt Columns in Iceland

A view of the unique formations of Stuðlagil Canyon in Southern Iceland

If the captivating basalt columns of Stuðlagil Canyon have left you yearning for more, you’re in luck! Northern Iceland is home to several other locations featuring impressive basalt columns, each offering a unique and awe-inspiring experience.

Reynisfjara Beach, located along Iceland’s southern coast, is famous for its stunning black sand beach and remarkable basalt columns. Another must-visit destination is the Svartifoss waterfall, situated in the Skaftafell Nature Reserve within the Vatnajökull National Park. This picturesque waterfall is framed by an incredible display of basalt columns, creating a truly magical sight.

Last but not least, the Geruberg basalt column cliff can be found in the Westfjords of Iceland, easily accessible by driving north from Reykjavk on Highway 54. With so many incredible basalt column locations to explore, your Iceland adventure is sure to be filled with mesmerizing natural wonders.

Preparing for Your Iceland Adventure

As you plan your Iceland adventure, there are several factors to consider to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. First and foremost, plan your itinerary based on the weather forecast, attractions you want to visit, and activities you want to do. Make sure to allocate enough time to explore the country and fully appreciate its natural wonders.

When packing for your trip, remember to bring appropriate clothing and gear for Iceland’s unpredictable weather. Waterproof layers, warm clothing, and sturdy shoes are essential for navigating the country’s diverse terrain and climate.

Lastly, here are some tips to ensure a respectful and enjoyable experience in Iceland.

  • Familiarize yourself with local customs and regulations
  • Be mindful of the local culture and environment
  • Contribute to the preservation of Iceland’s natural beauty for future generations to enjoy

By following these tips, you’ll not only have a fantastic adventure, but also contribute to the preservation of Iceland’s natural beauty.

Best Rental Car For Visiting Studlagil Canyon

To fully experience the beauty of Studlagil Canyon and the surrounding area, renting a car is highly recommended. The best rental car option for visiting the canyon is a 4x4 vehicle, as the gravel roads leading to Studlagil Canyon can be bumpy and challenging for non-4x4 cars.

Jeep Wrangler 4x4 SUV Rental Car From Go Car Rental Iceland

A 4x4 vehicle will not only provide a smoother ride on the rugged terrain, but also grant you the freedom to explore other attractions and activities in Iceland at your own pace. So, when planning your visit to Studlagil Canyon, be sure to consider a 4x4 rental car for a safe and unforgettable adventure!


Stuðlagil Canyon, with its captivating basalt columns and serene surroundings, is a must-visit destination for any nature enthusiast exploring eastern Iceland.

From understanding the geological formation of the canyon to navigating its hiking trails and viewpoints, this blog post has provided you with all the essential information needed for a memorable visit to this awe-inspiring natural wonder.

So pack your bags, rent a 4x4 and embark on an unforgettable adventure to the enchanting Studlagil Canyon!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is hike to Studlagil Canyon?

Hiking to Stuðlagil Canyon should take two hours, though you can save an hour by parking in the closer lot.

Let’s hit the trails!

Is it safe to swim in Studlagil Canyon Iceland?

Swimming in the Stuðlagil Canyon is a big no-no - it’s not safe due to the fragile basalt columns. Plus, please don’t follow any daredevils who go into the river as it is dangerous.

So, it’s best to stay away from the water and just enjoy the spectacular views!

How do I get down to Studlagil Canyon?

Grab your car and hit the Ring Road nr.1 - turn south and drive 19 kilometers to Grund for a quick walk of only 250 meters (or 5 minutes! )

Head to Studlagil Canyon, a beautiful canyon located just a short walk away from Grund. The walk is only 250 meters, or 5 minutes, so you can easily fit it into your day. Enjoy the stunning views of the canyon and take in the fresh air.

What is the geology of Studlagil Canyon?

Be mesmerised by the majestic beauty of Studlagil Canyon, formed from towering hexagonal-shaped columns of basalt rock and a crystal-clear glacial river.

The canyon is a stunning sight to behold, with its unique rock formations and vibrant blue waters. It’s a popular destination for hikers, photographers, and nature lovers alike.

Take a guided tour to explore the canyon and learn about its history.

What is the best time to visit Studlagil Canyon?

Experience the beauty of Studlagil Canyon at its best - visit between June and August for clear trails and crystal blue river!

The summer months offer the perfect opportunity to explore the canyon and take in its stunning views. With the trails free of snow and the river running clear, you can enjoy the beauty of the canyon in all its glory.

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