Asbyrgi (Shelter of the Gods) is the remarkable horseshoe-shaped canyon. Viking settlers believed to be a hoof-print formed by Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged flying horse from Norse mythology.

Geologists believe that Asbyrgi was formed as the result of a catastrophic flood from the nearby Jokulsa glacial river. Some people say that it is the capital of the Hidden People in Iceland.

Where to find Asbyrgi canyon?

Located in Jokulsargljufur within the Vatnajokull National Park, Asbyrgi has 100 meter (330 ft) high cliffs which form a 1 kilometer (.5 mi) wide ring of protective shelter around the rich vegetation and forest. The forest is a protected area but there is camping near the canyon’s entrance and you can climb the canyon itself.  For more than half of its length, the canyon is divided through the middle by a distinctive rock formation called Eyjan (“the Island”), from which hikers may enjoy spectacular views.

How high er the Asbyrgi canyon sides?

The canyon’s steep sides are formed by cliffs up to 100 meters in height. Down in the canyon, visitors walk 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.

Although Asbyrgi is part of the Vatnajokull National Park, it is run by the Iceland Forest Service.

Can you camp inside Asbyrgi?

Yes, there is a nice camping site in Asbyrgi and a minimal camping fee.

What to see in Asbyrgi?

The horseshoe-shaped canyon is a marvel to behold. Make sure you hike all the way to the end of the canyon and see the peaceful pond there, surrounded by birch and birds. The canyon sides are also quite interesting since you can see how layers upon layers of lava make up the bedrock of Iceland.

Check out our complete guide to travelling in North Iceland.