Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Iceland and is very impressive to see with a width of 100 m and a height of 44 meter. The name Dettifoss means something like “the collapsing waterfall”. When standing in front of the waterfall you know why it is named Detifoss.
Dettifoss is located along the Diamond Circle in the Northeast of Iceland, a popular tourist route that brings you along several highlights like: Húsavík, Asbyrgi, Settifossn and Lake Mývatn. If you only want to go to Dettifoss and the other waterfalls in the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum: from the ring road take the exit to road 864, a dirt road (for 27 kilometer). Very dusty, but really cool to drive. You can’t miss the exit for Dettifoss, it is well marked. In wintertime the road can be closed when there is to much snow.
The parking area at Dettifoss (gps 65.811589, -16.400274) can be quite crowded in summertime. Dettifoss is one of the main tourist attractions of Iceland, for a very good reason!!!
After a short walk you already have a nice view on Dettifoss. The view will only getting better when getting nearer at this mighty waterfall. It is quite scary when standing at the edge of the canyon when a spray of mist is covering the air. It is hard to express this feeling in words. You have been there to know what I mean.
It is also possible to visit Dettifoss from the west bank of the river, but I think the views from there are less impressive and this side of the waterfall is generally shrouded in mist. When we where in Iceland we visited Dettifoss from the eastbank.
It is said that Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe with possible volumes up to 500 m3/sec, extremely powerful. The average flow rate is 193 m3/sec.
Dettifoss is located in Iceland’s second largest river Jökulsá Fjollum (206 kilometers) and is fed by the glacier Vatnajökull. The muddy water squeezes itself through a narrow canyon with an average volume of 193 m3 per second and ends in the Arctic Ocean. The area is part of the Jökulsárgljúfur (glacier river gorge) since 1945 and is one of the four National Parks of Iceland.
Although Dettifoss is beautiful all year around, I love the early summer.
Dettifoss was recently featured in the opening scene of the science fiction film Prometheus (2012).
Waterfalls near Detifoss
Dettifoss is not the only waterfall in the river Jökulsá Fjollum. Upstream (1 kilometer/20 minute walk) you will find the Selfoss. Downstream there is another impressive waterfall Hafragilsfoss. A little bit further downstream you will also find Réttarfoss, even so impressive as the other falls (but Dettifoss is of the outer category).
Do not forget to check the Hafragilsfoss, a little bit further to the north. Not as powerful, but still very beautiful.
If driving the golden circle you are also near the famous Goðafoss (fall of the gods) not far from Akureyri.
For a list with all waterfalls in Iceland or a map with all waterfalls in Iceland, go to the main Iceland section.