Fagradalsfjall Hike – A Chance To “Safely” View An Active Volcano
Not many people have actually had a chance to see lava and live to talk about it. If it’s hot enough to melt rocks, it’s obviously not going to be good for the body.
Currently, if you go to Iceland there is an active volcano gargling and spitting lava! The best part about it is that it is contained enough to safely observe (relatively speaking).
For those that are adventurous enough you can actually go and witness this truly insane marvel of nature.
You Might Have Time to Go See It
Iceland previously had an eruption like this in 2021. The lava shot and oozed out of the earth approximately 6 months.
While no one can definitively say, the experts suggest this the current eruption could last a number of months as well.
Any trip to Iceland is awesome, but add onto it the chance to see Mother Earth gargling and spitting fire? It might be time to book immediately.
Actually In An Accessible Location
Another huge and slightly terrifying benefit is that this volcano is erupting extremely close to the main Iceland airport in Keflavik. It is located on the southwest coast of the main island.
If you drive directly to the access point from the airport it only takes about 30 minutes. If you are coming from Reykjavik it only takes about 45 minutes.
Actually Getting There – Go Yourself or Take a Tour?
I recommend everyone rent a car when visiting Iceland. While there are good public transportation options, so many of the top attractions are in remote locations that require a car or a dedicated tour.
If you don’t want to rent a car or want to make sure that you are safely accessing the site, then you can take one of the tours that have already popped up.
Finding The Access Point Yourself
The closest road to the eruption is about 4 miles away. Iceland tourism officials are awesome because they’ve already constructed a few parking lots and most of a trail to get you there.
Fagradalsfjall Volcano Parking
There is a large parking lot immediately at the trailhead. If the lot is full there is another even bigger one across the street as well. You very likely won’t have an issue finding a spot.
I’ve marked the parking lot with the most direct access point to the volcano trail here.
There is no attendant, but everyone is supposed to pay approximately $8 to the private landowner to park.
You can pay online ahead of time at this link. Supposedly there are parking officials in the area issuing citations for those that don’t.
Food Trucks But No Bathrooms
While there was ample parking and even food trucks in the parking lot, it was painful to not have any restrooms in the parking lot or on the trail. You’ve been warned!
How long does it take to hike Fagradalsfjall Volcano?
The actual trail was a total of 7.8 miles (see Apple Watch screenshot) or 3.9 miles each way. I’ve seen it reported as 4.4 miles, but rest assured that it is marginally shorter than that.
I would rate this trail as moderately difficult. Most people should be able to complete it, just know that parts will be difficult.
The first mile is daily easy, but it soon gets a lot more difficult as you have to hike up a long and steep hill. Seriously, you think you are at the top and then you go around a curve and see you have another huge incline left.
The last mile and a half is the worst part of the trail. Even though it’s generally flat, the large stones aren’t cleared away to make a path. This means that you have to walk over them, which makes every single step awkward and potentially painful if you don’t take your time.
I did this hike in sneakers, but the mile and a half of medium sized stones was not fun. I wish I would have had hiking boots.
Trail is Easy To Follow
The trail (and even the volcano) are pretty easy to find. Thankfully Iceland officials have marked the trail with posts every few hundred feet so that you know you are going in the right direction, even in the stone fields.
Even if the trail markers weren’t there you know where to go by the orange tinted clouds of smoke rising into the sky.
Seriously, the lava tints the entire sky red orange. It was kind of an eerie effect.
Take Path XXX
There are multiple trails that go around the crater, but make sure you take Path XXX. It is the one that approaches from the south west side.
You shouldn’t have a hard time finding it as there will be crowds of people beginning at all times of day.
No Views Until The End
Unfortunately you shouldn’t expect to get actual lava views until the end. We hoped to catch a peak from various ridge lines but got nothing until it all opened up in front of us at the very end.
Supposedly one of the trails on the east side provides views after only two miles, but I wouldn’t recommend this one as it won’t take you to the churning epicenter where you can get 100 yards away from spewing lava.
Impressions From The Actual Volcano
Not surprisingly, it was a once in a lifetime experience to be able to see an active volcano! It was every bit as dramatic as I expected, but there were a few other unexpected discoveries.
Lava is Brighter Than Expected
Maybe I’m an idiot for not expecting this, but the lava was so much brighter than I expected. It glows a bright yellow and not as orange as I’d expected or see in pictures.
The Volcano Sounded Mean
I don’t know what I thought a volcano would sound like, but it legitimately growls as the lava shoots and churns.
The powerful roar can be heard before it comes into sight.
The Landscape Changes By The Second
This one should be obvious, but it was nuts to see lava shoot out and dry into rock directly in front of me.
Trust me, knowing the tips below will help you make the most of the experience.
Winds Change/Trail is Sometimes Closed
You should go see the volcano the second you arrive in Iceland. I say this because due to changing winds and the release of poisonous gases officials sometimes have to close down the trail in the interest of safety.
Also, when raining the appearance is much more smokey and harder to see.
You need to make sure you don’t save your visit for a day that you can’t actually get there.
Check The Live Stream
You can no longer view the livestream camera since the volcano eruption has currently stopped. We will update this if it picks back up again.
Go At Night
Someone mistakenly told us that the trail closes at 10. This is not true as it is open 24 hours a day.
Thankfully someone gave us correct information and we ended up starting the trail at midnight. Even at midnight until 5 am we saw lots of others on the trail.
Sunset is when the trail is most packed, which allows you to hike in with the sun but still have the extra amazing views of the lava by night.
Trust me, find a way to see this spectacular site once the sun has set.
I love that Iceland lets you fly drones, just not over 120 meters (they sent out a blanket text to anyone in the area describing the height limit).
Be careful though. The lava is much hotter than you would think (can be up to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit) and we saw it literally melt a drone!
Fagradalsfjall Volcano live
Unfortunately, this volcano has stopped erupting at the moment.
If you can swing it, go go go!