Traveling with your camper van on the Snæfellsnes peninsula? There’s certainly plenty to see along the entire drive, but for the adventurous at heart, the Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge is a must stop.
The gorge is located directly off road 574 on the south side of the peninsula. From the main road (54), take 574 toward Hellnar. You can’t miss the giant crack in the facade of the mountain coming from Snæfellsjökull glacier. Detailed coordinates here.
It’s said that Bárdur Snæfellsás, guardian of the area, helps all those who are lost. If you get into trouble, summon his spirit from his statue in nearby Arnarstapi (pictured below), it’s also worth a stop on your drive.
He’s a half-human, part-troll, part-giant from the early 14th century, so he should have no problem saving you. Just don’t anger him by endangering his daughters. This gorge was named after Rauðfeldr, one of the sons of Bárdur’s half-brother. I know, I know, in the Icelandic sagas, everyone is half-everything, but follow along, things get crazy.
Anyways, story goes Raðfeldr (Red-cloak) and Bárdur’s daughter Helga were playing along the shore covered in ice. Mr. Red Cloak decided to push Helga onto an iceberg and she floated off to Greenland. Bárdur was pretty angry about his daughter’s unexpected departure, but she eventually settled and found some Greenlandic lovin’.
In a fit of rage, Bárdur pushed Raðfeldr into the nearby ravine (Raðfeldsgjá Gorge) and his brother Sölvi over the cliffs (Sölvahamar). What did Sölvi do wrong? I don’t know. I told you things would get crazy. But now because of the brothers’ peril in saga-land, we have beautiful places in nature to visit with great stories.
For your hike to the gorge, start by safely parking in the lot off the road. We recommend insurances, but don’t want you to have to use them.
(Find common questions and answers about our camper vans here.)
From there, it’s a clear shot up to the base of the gorge, about a 20 minute hike. It look’s quite close to the car park, but don’t underestimate how much there is to climb. It’s possible to hike up to the very top of the ravine, but most visitors climb just to the inside of the gorge where a stream of water from the glacier flows, or to the side of the ravine where you can climb an additional 10-15 minutes for a better view.
See the small collection of dots that is the car park below?
Both summits have their perks, but be extra careful of your footing if you choose to take the additional climb on the west side of the gorge opening. That additional section is not an advisable hike if there’s any ice, mud, or excessive loose rock. As always in Iceland, use your best judgment and respect the force of nature. Note: we are making suggestions as fellow hikers, not as professional guides.
The rocks inside the ravine can also be very uneven and slippery, so mind your step and definitely wear shoes you wouldn’t mind getting wet. Once inside the center of the ravine, be sure to look up at the gorgeous moss covered canyon. Many birds perch themselves on the small ledges of the walls.
The view facing away from the ravine is the true reason to stop. Of course, it’s even better at sunrise or sunset, and on an extremely clear day you can see far east toward the beginning of road 54, maybe even to the capitol area from this part of the peninsula.
Hike safe! Camp happy. Góða ferð!
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