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Ásbyrgi is a remarkable horse-shoe-shaped canyon.

The canyon is belived to have been formed as a result of at least two catastrophic floods from the nearby Jökulsá glacial river, the first happening about 8-10 thousend years ago and the second for about 3 thousend years ago. Since that time the river has moved to it's current location further to the east. 
Viking settlers believed though this to be the hoof-print formed by Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged flying horse from Norse mythology.

Ásbyrgi is a part of the Vatnajökull nationalpark. The cliffs creating this natures-phenomena are about 100 meters high (330 ft), which form a 1 kolometer (5 mi) wide ring of protectiv shelter around the rich vegetation and forest found in the area. Close by the camping area one can climb the cliff wall along a easy path, up to a distinctive rock in the middle of the "hoof" called Eyjan ("the island"), from where hikers may enjoy spectaular views.

Several trails with informationboards are in the area, offering walks through a woodland of birch, willow and mountain ash. Between 1947 and 1977, a number of foreign tree species were introduced, including fir, larch and pine. The small lake Botnstjorn is home to a variety of waterfowl species while artic fulmar nest on the cliffs. By the west side of the cliffs one findes a viewpoint platau offering great view of the lake and the surrounding area. The high cliffs provide a good insight to how layers upon layers of lava make up the bedrock of Iceland.

From main road 1 head towards Húsavík and follow road nr 85 all the way to Ásbyrgi. To get into the area follow road nr 861 all the way to the parking close to the small lake at the bottom of the "hoof". From the parking several trails invite to a hike in the area e.g. to the lake Botnstjörn. 
Toilets are by the parking as well as with the information center by the enterance to Ásbyrgi. 
A campingsite, a store and gasolinstation can also be found in the area.

During winter the park office in Ásbyrgi "Gljúfrastofa" is open weekdays, see their website. The road nr 861 has no winterservice and normaly gets blocked by snow. Many do though visit the canyon by walking, the road from the park office to the bottom of the canyon is about 4 km (one way). A good photo stop is at the south end of the Eyjan (the island) see photo above.

During winter we advise visitors to check the website of the The Icelandic Road Administration to see the condition of the road as well as the weather prognoses for the area by the Iceland Met Office before setting out for an adventure of the day - in addition on can check the FB page: Jökulsárgljúfur - Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður for information about the area by the park officials. 

During summer one can make an adventurous circle from Akureyri, with a visit by Lake Mývatn, Hljóðalettar, Ásbyrgi and Húsavík but note this is a large circle and takes more than 4 hours just to drive (310 km) in addition there are all the stops. So plan to start the day early if you intend to do it as a day tour - and be prepared to arrive back to Akureyri late in the evening.

Further info

Rout: Google maps

Position: 66.001853, -16.512407 (66° 0.111'N, 16° 30.744'W)
ISN93: 612.918, 613.924

Road numbers: 1,  nr 85 and nr 861

Distance from Akureyri: 138 km