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View from the top of Ásbyrgi canyon
Botnstjörn lake
Aerial view of Ásbyrgi

Ásbyrgi (Icelandic pronunciation: ​[ˈauːsˌpɪrcɪ]) is a glacial canyon and forest in the north of Iceland, located approximately 38 kilometres (24 mi) east of Húsavík on the Diamond Circle road. The horseshoe-shaped depression is part of the Vatnajökull National Park and measures approximately 3.5 km in length and over 1 km wide.[1] For more than half of its length, the canyon is divided through the middle by a distinctive rock formation 25 meters high called Eyjan ("the Island"), from which a vast landscape is seen.

The canyon's steep sides are formed by cliffs up to 100 metres (330 ft) in height. Within in the canyon is a woodland of birch and willow. Between 1947 and 1977, a number of foreign tree species were introduced, including spruce, larch and pine. The small lake Botnstjörn is home to a variety of waterfowl species.

Ásbyrgi was most likely formed by catastrophic glacial flooding of the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum after the last Ice Age, first 8-10,000 years ago, and then again some 3,000 years ago. The river has since changed its course and now runs about 2 km to the east. The legend explains the unusual shape of the canyon differently. Nicknamed Sleipnir's footprint, it is said that the canyon was formed when Odin's eight-legged horse, Sleipnir, touched one of its feet to the ground here.


  1. ^ "About Ásbyrgi". Vatnajökull National Park.

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Coordinates: 66°00′52″N 16°30′12″W / 66.01444°N 16.50333°W / 66.01444; -16.50333