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Dettifoss Waterfall

Nature creation - Earth Waterfall ::--1.Guaza - Brazil|| 2.Victoria - Zimbabwe|| 3.Niagara - USA|| 4.Plitvice - Croatia|| 5.Angel - Venezuela|| 6.Yosemite - USA|| 7.Kaieteur - Guyana|| 8.Gullfoss - Iceland9. ||Dettifoss - Iceland|| 10.Sutherland - N.Z.||Water Fall List||

Dettifoss Waterfall

Dettifoss is a waterfall in Vatnajokull National Park in Northeast Iceland, and is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
It is situated on the Jokulsa a Fjollum river, which flows from the Vatnajokull glacier and collects water from a large area in Northeast Iceland. The falls are 100 m wide and have a drop of 45 m down to the Jokulsargljufur canyon. It is the largest waterfall in Europe in terms of volume discharge, having an average water flow of 193 m3/s.
The waterfall can only be reached by a rough road. On the west bank there are no facilities and the view on the waterfall is somewhat hindered by the waterfall's spray. On the east bank there is an information panel maintained by the staff of Vatnajokull National Park (Vatnajokulsþjoogarour) and a maintained track to the best viewpoints.

The closest populated areas include Vopnafjorour, Myvatn and Husavík.
It is Europe's most powerfull waterfall sending glacial meltwaters over its 44m precipice unchecked at a flow of around 500 cubic meters per second. It epitomizes the wild and raw Icelandic Nature and is a favorite amongst Icelandic Nature lovers. Its position at the head of the impressive Jokulsargljufur (the Icelandic version of the Grand Canyon) surrounded by three other major waterfalls on the same river makes it a no-brainer for this to make our Top 10 Waterfalls List. 


View from the east bank with a person for scale
Northeast Iceland
Total height
45 m (148 ft)
Number of drops
Jokulsa a Fjollum
Average flow rate
193 m3/s (6

The east bank was the more popular side of the river as tour buses routinely stop here and unload their passengers (probably since the access road here was more tame compared to the west bank access). Thus, it was much more busier here and certainly not as peaceful and quiet as the west bank.
The east bank is the more touristy side though it too requires driving on a bumpy unsealed 2wd road on Route 864 (though this route is not nearly as rough as 862; even tour bases take it). From Reykjalio, head east on the Ring Road for about 37km (or 19km beyond the turnoff for Route 862). Just beyond the bridge over Jokulsa a Fjollum, turn left onto Route 864 and follow this wide and relatively tame unsealed road for about 31km. There's a signposted turnoff to the left leading the last kilometer to the car park. From there, it's a short 10-15 minute descent to the brink of Dettifoss.

Dettifoss is Iceland's greatest and most majestic waterfall. It is also rated as Europe's most powerful waterfall, based on its magnitude. Dettifoss is 45 metres in height and 100 metres wide and its force is such that the bedrock trembles when hit by the weight of an immense column of white-foaming water. The average flow is 193 cubic metres per second but during floods it reaches up to 600 m3/s.

Dettifoss is in the glacial river Jokulsa a Fjollum, which emerges from beneath Vatnajokull glacier and runs into Oxarfjorour bay. It is part of Vatnajokull National Park. Dettifoss is the centre fall in a unique series of waterfalls; about one km up river is Selfoss, and two km down river is Hafragilsfoss.

Dettifoss cuts the river at an angle so the scenic experience is quite different depending on which side the waterfall is viewed from.

The east bank of Dettifoss

On the east side of Jokulsa river, road 864 runs between road 85 in Oxarfjorour region and main road 1 in the Myvatn area. Despite being a gravel road, it has usually been better than the road on the on the west side, so this is where most visitors come to Dettifoss.

A marked trail leads from Dettifoss up to Selfoss which is also well worth seeing. While only 10m high, it is very wide. The hike back and forth takes about one hour.
From the parking lot, there is also a marked trail along the river bank down to Hafragilsfoss, although most people opt to drive down to the parking lot by Hafragilsfoss. While the fall itself is quite smaller than Dettifoss, its surrounding is magnificent for here the canyon is truly grand. 
The area of Dettifoss, Selfoss and Hafragilsfoss on the east side of the river was declared a national monument in 1996.

dettifoss waterfall

The west bank of Dettifoss

Road F862 runs between road 85 and road 1 on the west side of Jokulsa river. Between road 85 and Dettifoss it is a gravel road, but between Dettifoss and Road 1 it is more of a mountain track and conditions can vary greatly. A new road is under construction, scheduled to be completed in 2010.

From the parking lot on the west side of the Jokulsa, there is a 20 minute walk through a desert like terrain of sand and rock to Dettifoss.