Iceland: Gulfoss

July 7, 2012

Gulfoss is located on the Biskupstungnabraut (35) at the end of the paved section.  Although we didn’t drive beyond it, my understanding is that it becomes an “F” road shortly after the falls, in which case a large, heavy-duty 4×4 is required at that point.

Something kinda like this:

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Gulfoss (Golden Falls) is by far the most famous waterfall in Iceland.  However, there are many, many waterfalls in the country.  This was only our first, and holy moly, we started BIG!

You can see the mist from the falls from a very long way away, so as we approached, we focused on the miasmatic cloud flouting above a seemingly small crack in the ground.

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Then we saw where the mist was coming from.  Wow.

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Gulfoss is where the glacial river Hvítá (the white river) flows into a canyon.  Unless one gets close enough to peek over the edge, where one can actually see the canyon itself, it seems as though the river just flows down into the depths of the Earth.

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Gulfoss was at times being considered a prime location for a hydroelectric plant.  Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the daughter of a previous owner of the falls, protested so strongly against these considerations that she made herself into something of a local legend.  She threatened to throw herself over the falls in a suicide protest if there were to be any man-made changes to the falls, and to prove her threat genuine, she walked from there to Reykjavik (120 km of then unpaved roads) barefoot.  She is considered by many now a local folk hero, although it seems that her threats were not actually the true reason that the falls were sold to the state and preserved.  There is a lovely memorial to her alongside one of the paths where people view the falls.

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Next up:  Geysir!

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