Fifty shades of green: the Grábrók Crater. | Encaustichris

Fifty shades of green: the Grábrók Crater.

About 110 kilometres north of Reykjavik you will find the remains of three active volcanoes: the Grábrók crater.

This crater remains after a volcanic eruption of approximately 3000 years (!!) ago.

The crater can be found when you follow ring road 1 towards the north.


Volcanoes are dangerous, we all know that, but volcanoes are also known to extinguish, and can “sleep” for years, some really extinguish, and it is expected that these will no longer become active.

With an altitude of 173 metres, Grábrók is the highest crater of the three craters in the area.

There has been a crack in the face of the earth that is about 600 metres long.

Three volcanoes were created on that crack, which flooded the wide circumference with lava.

The result three thousand years later (!) is a beautiful setting, lava fields, overgrown with moss, a national park that deserves protection, and has also been protected since 1960.

Volcanoes attract people, and for that reason a path has been made on the crater so you can walk over the edge. Warning: never walk around the edges of fresh volcanoes, even though they seem extinguished: edges are often unstable, and the crust of the volcano is often (still) thin!

When I was a kid, I was fascinated by volcanoes, so if you give me the chance to visit one, I won't let that.

That's why I wanted to go to the Grábrók crater. It is safe to visit, and easily accessible (I also wanted to go to the youngest volcano, which was still active at the time of our visit, but unfortunately the weather did not succeed).

Arriving at Grábrók you will find a car park, with information boards, indicating the hiking routes, and a warning to walk only on the indicated trails, and not to disturb the surroundings.

The climb starts right from the car park: wooden staircases lead you up the full 173 metres.

The stairs are easy to walk, but climbing 173 meters is quite an end, fortunately there are several resting spots on the way, where you can take a break out on a bench.

My asthmatic lungs were very happy about that!

And sitting down isn't annoying, the view is getting more beautiful, the higher you rise!


On the way up, you will see, among other things, a sheep meadow where the sheep are collected and returned to the owners for the winter.

The walls you see are made up of chunks of lava stacked on top of each other, there's no cement, and it's been there for years.!


A look at a smaller crater, the hiking trail is clearly visible here:


And then, when you're upstairs, you have a fantastic view of the area:

You'll see the parking lot here, and some of the lava fields in the area. The grey-brown is all moss.


a smaller crater. The third crater has been excavated almost entirely for road construction.


A chunk of lava:


University view, in the middle of the lava fields.


Lava is very fertile (over a lot of time). In this close up you can see that plants have settled among the lava kibble.


An overview from on top of the crater, the walking trail across the edge is clearly visible here.

You can also see that moss grows in the crater. This moss is very fragile: it takes years to grow (and seconds to destroy it by walking on it)!

This moss is famous in Iceland, and protected.



Lava can be different colors depending on the composition, and the temperature it had when it solidified.

The piece below is yellow, and you can see the bubbles solidified in the chunk: this makes lava often very light weight.

Lava can also be very heavy and compact!


The following chunk of lava has various colors, and is partly very airy, and another piece is very dense and viscous.

I love seeing the differences, and I have collected several lava kibble during my holiday.

The most beautiful lava is Obsidian, lava glass. That's shaped under high pressure, a semi-precious stone.


With a last look at Grábrók, I descend the stairs, and we continue our way.


Grábrók is easy to access for families as long as you are normally on your feet.

For wheelchair users, the area is not accessible due to the many stairs.

There are no sanitary facilities, but there is a restaurant nearby, which is marked with signs.

We stayed here for an hour, which is long enough to see the most important.

When you drive the ring road, Grábrók is well worth a visit!

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