Not big and not long but beautiful and special all the same. Stuðlagil canyon rose from obscurity to massive fame in literally minutes. PIC Mauro Gambini

A s late as 2016 you could waltz around Studlagil canyon, Stuðlagil in the local language, for weeks on end without seeing another human soul anywhere. Thanks to a great marketing campaign this remote place is now the most popular spot in the whole of Eastern Iceland.

Sometimes the little things take all the glory. PIC Mzagerp

As is often the case in beautiful Iceland it takes foreigners to highlight some remarkable natural phenomenon we locals have completely taken for granted forever and ever.

The Northern lights are a case in point. So utterly common here in wintertime nobody gave them a second thought. Until the tourists started to arrive and finding this utterly out of this world.

Another excellent case can be made about Stuðlaberg. This is a tiny narrow canyon pretty much well off the beaten track for years until one airline started one of their campaigns with pictures from this place.

Fast forward three years or so and this place is the most popular in Eastern Iceland, has already featured in global commercials and even in movies. Pretty impressive CV.

So what exactly is this shit?

Imagine the Giant´s Causeway. Northern Ireland´s most popular tourist spot filled with fascinating hexagonal stone formations. Multiply that with seven, add some amazingly green-bluish super-cold glacial water flowing past and voilà! Oh, and add to the mix a rather lovely little waterfall nearby.

Well, it just so happens that Stuðlagil canyon was under water for centuries until 2008 or so. About that time a new huge dam was built in the Eastern highland and the diminished flow of glacial water laid bare some astonishing natural architecture. Among those a tiny little canyon whose walls were all made from hexagonal interlocking basalt columns. Those are the results of ancient volcanic fissure eruption and we have quite a lot of those around the island of Iceland.

But you know about the power of social media and you probably also know about herd mentality. Those came together like like the Big Bang on opioids around 2016-2017.

Nowadays, you can certainly enjoy the spectacle but you´ll do so in the company of dozens, if not hundreds, of other folks at the same time which is not cool since the nature here in the highland is delicate to the extreme. Visiting this place is within your rights according to Icelandic law but be aware you are treading on private land cultivated by local farmers. Even the roads to this place are, in theory, private roads.

Admission is free as of time of writing but plans are afoot the change that. This is pretty remote in the scheme of things. Getting here is not easy as roads to this place are not made for L.A. traffic over the high season.

We told you it was pretty remote…

However, two ways are possible. One is to follow the Ring Road through the pretty Jökulsárdalur, which incidentally, is the longest valley in the whole country. When you get to a sign leading to road marked F923 go that route. Drive for fifteen minutes or so in good conditions and you´ll come upon a farm called Klaustursel. From there it is easier to find the nice waterfall mentioned above and if you are up for a 5 km hike you get to Stuðlagil canyon with very nice views. The hike is not hard by any measure.

On the other hand, the easier route, is the again follow road F923 all the way to a farm called Grund. Stuðlagil canyon is but a few minutes walk away from here but the views are not as great as doing the hike from the other side.

Keep firmly in mind that you are walking through active farmland. Seek permission if you meet the locals, even if you really don´t need to, as you could very well be making this difficult for the farmers here. Show respect folks!

Is Stuðlagil worth the trouble?

That depends. Depends if you want to be number 400 thousand posting a selfie from here or just brag about how adventurous you are. The site itself is beautiful but not stunning and for normal folks out there you could do a whole lot better with your time here.

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