Urriðafoss – The Most Voluminous Waterfall of Iceland


Basic Information

Iceland crawls with numerous natural wonders, each more beautiful than the other, and containing some gorgeous features which are unique to themselves. Most these wonderful locations are the powerful and distinct waterfalls of Iceland. From the ones which have water that shines from the rays of the midnight sun to the ones which played a huge role in the religious establishment of the country, waterfalls in Iceland are second to none when it comes to beauty, grace and somewhat terrifying and intimidating power. One of the members of this esteemed group of glorious waterfalls of Iceland is Urriðafoss. While the drop of Urriðafoss is only 12 feet, it is known as the largest waterfall in Iceland in terms of volume. So, if you are done seeing the waterfall which has a really high drop and ready to experience something more, something different, then Urriðafoss is the right place for you to be at.

Urriðafoss waterfall in south Iceland

About Urriðafoss

As unique as Urriðafoss is, it looks different than any other waterfall that you would have seen in your travels across the country. It looks like a stretch of flowing water with small islands scattered in between the water flow. The name Urriðafoss literally translates to “Salmon waterfall” in English. The name could have been because of the fishing rate of salmon in the Þjórsá river, the river that feeds Urriðafoss. Þjórsá is the longest river in Iceland and the second-largest in terms of volume. Salmon shows a pattern of traveling up the river near the waterfall which is represented by the name of the waterfall. What makes this waterfall special is the fact that this is the only waterfall with glacial water in the whole world where salmon breeds and grows up to full size.

Urriðafoss waterfall in south Iceland

The Size, The Stature, and The Water Plant

The dropping rate of the water for Urriðafoss is 360 m3/sec and it is the highest in the whole country even though the actual volume of dropping water has been reduced by almost 50% after the construction of 5 well-known dams on the river Þjórsá. There is a proposal lined up to build a hydropower station on the lower end of the waterfall given the high amount of energy that the huge volume of water falling from the waterfall would bring in. But this particular proposal poses a threat to the waterfall as it is possible that if the plant is built, it will be the end of Urriðafoss. Not only that, the area that has been chosen as the space for the proposed water plant is the place where most of the freshwater marine life of the river is found. That could take a serious toll as well if the plant proposal is approved. This has fired up quite a lot of protests and strikes from the locals near the waterfall who are attempting to save it.

How to get there?

This particular waterfall is one of those very few waterfalls which are extremely easy to access from the main Ring Road of Iceland. If you are starting from the capital city towards your destination then take route 49 which meets the Ring Road only after 500 meters or so. Continue on the Ring Road towards the waterfall for about 75.3 kilometers which will take approximately 1 hour. Finally, make a left when you reach Urriðafossvegur and go about 850 meters to reach the viewing panel of the waterfall. You may even see some locals trying to catch a salmon.

Even though this is not like other waterfalls where you would have to wear waterproof clothing in order to stay protected from water splashes and sprinkles rising from the powerful drop, it is still recommended to keep a shell jacket handy.

Urriðafoss waterfall in south Iceland

Map of Urriðafoss waterfall

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