Snæfellsjökull Glacier and National Park
On June 28, 2001 the Snæfellsjökull National Park was established. The national park is located on the western part of Snæfellsnes peninsula in West Iceland. The park stretches all the way to the coast and sometimes the glacier Snæfellsjökull, located in the park, can be seen from the capital city Reykjavík. The park covers an area of 170 km2 with very unique beautiful landscape, plants, animals and is an important historical site. The purpose of the park is to protect this unique area, it’s history as well as the flora and fauna.
Everyone is free to visit the national parks in Iceland but as this is a protected area for a reason it is important to be extra respectful to the nature and do not drive off road, litter or disturb the wildlife. The national park provides opportunities for visitors to learn about the area and park rangers operate there in the summer.
There are many famous and interesting sites located in the park including the magnificent Snæfellsjökull Glacier. The glacier is also a 700.000 year old stratovolcano and it’s peak reaches 1446 meters (4745 ft). Snæfellsjökull is an active volcano with a crater in the middle under the ice cap. Last eruption was about 1800 years ago. Like other glaciers in Iceland it has been retreating due to global warming. Snæfellsjökull became famous when Jules Verne wrote about it in the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth where the mountain is suppose to be the entrance to the center of the earth.
The geology of the park is very diverse and natural wonders from modern times back to the last ice age can be found there. The landscape is characterized by volcanic eruptions, lava fields, basalt columns, caves, glacier and waterfalls. Among the most popular attractions at the park are the two basalt cliffs called Lóndrangar, the Saxhóll volcano crater, Djúpalónssandur beach, the singing cave (Sönghellir) and Rauðfeldargjá waterfall.
The drive from Reykjavík to Snæfellsjökull National Park is about 2 hours and 45 minutes (190 km). Take Ring Road nr. 1 towards the town Borgarnes, make sure to enter the Hvalfjordur Tunnel for a shorter drive. Drive into Borgarnes and then take road nr. 54 and drive until there is a left turn on road nr. 574 towards Arnarstapi. This road goes through the park.