The famous and historical Gullfoss Waterfall
The mighty Hvítá (White River) is a glacial river flowing southward straight from Langjökull (Long Glacier) giving Gullfoss an awesome flow rate. In the summer when the supply of meltwater from Lanjökull is particularly abundant this rises to an average of 140 cubic meters per second. The highest flood flow rate ever measured here was an extraordinary 2,000 cubic meters per second.
The waterfalls drop a total of 32 meters in two stages as it flows through the rugged, at times 70 meters high, canyon. About a kilometer from Gullfoss the river turns very sharply to the right where it flows down through a dramatic, wide canyon before the vast volume of water is very powerfully forced into a narrower channel. Gullfoss plunges in two dramatic stages, the first cascade drops 11 meters and the second drops 21 meters.
This waterfall has a very important place in the hearts of most Icelanders. Not surprisingly, the potential to utilize the colossal hydro-electricity generating potential has created something of a bi-polarity between those who wished to exploit this site and those who wanted it to be preserved. The well-known poet and lawyer, Einar Benediktsson, supported exploitation and local farmer´s daughter, Sigríður Tómasdóttir, was determined that Gullfoss be preserved. Some say she even threatened to throw herself down! There is a stone memorial to Sigríður above the falls.
There are higher waterfalls in Iceland but a chance to witness the sheer power and grandeur of Gullfoss is something no one should miss.
Where is Gullfoss located?
Gullfoss is located in the heart of the famous Golden Circle in South Iceland 107 km from Reykjavík. The other Golden Circle sights, Geysir (9.7 km) and Þingvellir National Park (70 km) are nearby. Other interesting places include: Laugavatn village, lake and the Fontana Spa (38.9 km); the Secret Lagoon, a hot spring pool at Flúðir (31.4 km); Selfoss (71.7 km); and Reykholt (29.8 km) are a few of the options.