Photo by Alene Hart/age fotostock
This dramatic two-tier waterfall, whose name translates as "Golden Falls," a reference to the shimmering mist that sometimes appears around the falls, is one of Iceland’s most famous—which is saying something in a country abundant with waterfalls. Saved from oblivion during the 1920s (foreign investors wanted to dam the falls to create hydropower), the waterfall lies in a canyon on the Hvítá river and is backed by scenic snowcapped peaks. It’s possible to follow the falls as they flow downstream through the canyon, either via a walking trail or on a rafting trip, though it’s worth noting that the paths are wet and can be slippery. The visitor center has a canteen that serves up surprisingly tasty local dishes like lamb soup; there are also a gift shop and a local exhibition centered around traditional life in the area.
By Paul Sullivan, AFAR Local Expert
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Gullfoss Waterfall has rich history in Iceland. It serves as a water source, and it's natural beauty is breathtaking. The temperatures can be very icy near the waterfall. Not to worry, the trail to the edge of the falls and the stairs to a lookout point where I took the picture, will keep your body heat up.
By Michaela Trimble, AFAR Ambassador
A cairn is a pile of rocks. It's a Gaelic word. There are cairns everywhere in Iceland. There certainly is not a lack of rocks to build them. You see cairns all along the roads. Some mark the old horse paths that were used before there were roads. I thought they looked really cool and even added a rock every once in a while. This particular one was on the side of Gullfoss waterfall.
The Colors of Iceland: Pink, Blue, Black and White
My husband and I just returned from Iceland for my 40th birthday. What a beautiful country! Because of technical problems with our plane leaving JFK, we ended up arriving in Reykjavik at 2:00 a.m. We drove straight from the airport to Gulfoss, about a 3-hour's drive, arriving in Gulfoss around 5:00 a.m. Being pitch black outside, we were so curious to know what the landscape around Gulfoss would look like once the sun came up. We went to sleep in the car and woke up at 10:00 a.m. when the sun was just rising and this is what greeted us. Iceland's landscape is unlike any I've seen - everything is a soothing shade of pink, blue, black or white. Because the sun never gets too far above the horizon during the winter months, the mountains are all bathed in a beautiful alpenglow most of the day. Waking up that morning in Gulfoss and feeling like I'd been dropped on a beautiful moonscape is not something I'll soon forget.
By Joan Wharton, AFAR Local Expert
Swept Away by Iceland
For those of you who are making the trek to Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon is usually the stop of choice. However, if you're looking for a worthwhile day trip, a rental car and walking shoes can take you to one of Iceland's most spectacular sights. Be warned not to propose next to this waterfall since its sounds are deafening and regular communication might breakdown.
Into the Frozen Abyss
I think Geysir's famed Gulfoss Waterfall is even more spectacular in the winter when the frigid Icelandic temperatures and blustery winds transform the waterfall into a jaw-dropping frozen wonderland. Gulfoss Waterfall was the very first thing my husband and I went to see on our January trip to Iceland, and I knew as soon as I laid eyes on it that this wouldn't be a trip I'd soon forget. We managed to be at the waterfall just as the sun was popping above the horizon around 10:00 a.m. and we had the whole place to explore by ourselves before other tourists showed up. On any trip to Iceland, definitely take the time to see the famed Gulfoss Waterfall, which I think is even more dramatic and beautiful if you can see it in the winter.
By Joan Wharton, AFAR Local Expert
Gullfoss is located in the area known as "The Golden Circle" near Reykjavik and is a must see if you're traveling in the country.
By Brian Hamric
Gullfoss, was just about a short 10 minute drive from Geysir and as waterfalls go it was pretty spectacular. I would most definitely recommend walking down from the main viewing area and getting closer to the waterfall. In fact, I actually found this view looking down the canyon at the second cascade just magical.
By Adina Marguerite Pease, AFAR Local Expert
The Power of Nature at Its Best
Called the Golden Falls, in English, this is one of the most spectacular waterfalls I've ever seen. Part of Iceland's famous Golden Circle tour, Gullfoss falls is not to be missed. The Hvítá river drops 32 metres into a crevice in the earth, dumping between 80 and 140 m³/s of water over the edge. One of the strange things about Gullfoss is you can't see it until you are standing above it; the river seems to vanish into the earth. Hiking down the steps to stand beside the waterfall, is well worth it, even though you eventually have to climb back up!
By Alison Cornford-Matheson, AFAR Local Expert
Gullfoss on The Golden Circle Self-Drive
Iceland is a breathtaking young island - filled with stark, contrasting landscapes. Dramatic cliffs dropping off into the ocean, craggy black lava fields, gushing waterfalls and mossy green meadows. Gullfoss just one of three stops on the Golden Circle trail, an easy self-drive from Reykjavik. It is impossible to imagine the power of the waterfall until you start walking closer and hear the roaring water plunging over the edge. The spray from the falls mists your face (and camera lens) from the highest point on the trail and gets more intense as you follow the path down to ground level - so bring a rain jacket with a hood!. We almost didn't make this a stop on our trip because it seemed too touristy - but I highly recommend it as it is even more spectacular in person.
The Golden Falls
I recently returned from an amazing trip through Iceland. This photo features the famous waterfall, Gullfoss (meaning "Golden Falls"). It is one of the top tourist attractions in Iceland and is really amazing to behold. The water rushes down a rock staircase before dropping into a deep crevice. Note the people on standing on the overlook to the right of the photo to get a sense of the scale. Gullfoss, Þingvellir National Park, and the geysirs of Haukadalur comprise the popular tourist sightseeing triad known as the Golden Circle. Park in the main lot and then get ready for a short but stunning walk down to the waterfall. You'll hear it before you see it which only enhances its first (and lasting) impression. I loved every waterfall I saw in Iceland, but I can see why this is a favorite of people everywhere.
Snow in Gullfoss "Golden Falls"
One of the many spectacular views at Gullfoss. This one is closer to the top of the falls. We were there in late November and it was snowing at Gullfoss. It is so spectacular that not even a camera would not do it justice. You can hike on the trail up but beware, it is quite slippery. Even with a rope to hold on to, I still fell and slipped quite a few times.
By Phuong Trieu
Water and legends
A legend tells that Sigridur Tomasdottir, daughter to Tomas Tomasson (who was once the owner of the falls) threatened to throw herself into the falls in an effort to prevent the exploitation of this natural wonder. You can find a stone memorial to Sigridur located above the falls.
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