Reykjadalur Valley

Photo Credit Icon Júlia Brekkan

Reykjadalur Valley

  • Icon for path Path
  • Icon for baths Baths

The Reykjadalur hike rewards hikers with a thermal river at the end. Improving the infrastructure in the valley might not be enough to protect the wet and fragile area from an increasing number of tourists.

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Fragile landscape determines accessibility and infrastructure

The short but scenic hike starts in a geothermal area with mud pools and fumaroles. Further along the trail, the landscape changes, with the grown hills of the Reykjadalur Valley becoming more prominent. At the end of the hike, a hot spring thermal river flows down the valley. The main challenge in the area is the wetness of the land and the large number of guests, causing hiking paths to become extremely waterlogged and muddy during spring. At times, access needs to be restricted, and the area has been closed for tourist traffic on several occasions during the wettest season.

Removable hovering platforms

Due to the increasing number of tourists at Reykjadalur, improvements have been made to the pathway and infrastructure, which now includes gravel paths and wooden bridges as well as wooden platforms and simple changing facilities by the hot stream. The gravel was transported to the site by helicopter, and to ensure stability, steel reinforcement mesh was laid under the gravel in the wettest areas. To protect the waterlogged soil by the bathing stream, the walkway is slightly elevated and built from wooden platforms that can easily be removed if required. During the most crowded times of the year, however, the number of visitors exceeds the walkway’s capacity, which causes people to stray off the designated paths and leave tracks in the ground. Since 2012, constant improvements have been made to the path system in the valley, and regular maintenance has been carried out on the wooden platforms by the bathing stream.

Key facts

  • Location

    Reykjadalur, Hveragerði, S Iceland

  • GPS points

    N64° 1' 22.985" W21° 12' 43.779"

  • Protection framework

    Local Municipal Spatial Planning Protection of Natural Monuments and Natural Features (hverfisverndarsvæði vegna náttúruminja)

  • Estimated number of visitors

    About 300,000 guests in 2018

  • High season

    About 1,300 guests per day in 2018

  • Low season

    About 340 guests per day in 2018

  • Project Owner

    The Municipality of Ölfus

  • Designer

    Landmótun Landscape Architects and Sigurður Ósmann Jónsson

  • Year of construction

    From 2012, not yet completed

  • Materials

    Timber, gravel, sheep slats

  • Grants

    ISK 115,625,500 from the Tourist Site Protection Fund in 2012-2019 for local planning and design, footpaths, markings, footbridge, toilet facilities, hot spring repairs, improvements to footpaths and land reclamation ISK 15,000,000 from The National Plan in 2020-2021 for path repairs and maintenance