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A Geothermal Pass in North East Iceland

Námaskarð truly is a geothermal wonder of hot sulfuric mud springs and steam springs (geological term: fumaroles) and looks like a scene from outer space. Natural black rivers and bubbling pools spewing steam and smoke lay in this color-rich mineral landscape that truly takes your breath away!

Námaskarð is a narrow geothermal pass between the mountains Námafjall and Dalfjall in North East Iceland. The Icelandic Route 1, known more widely as the Ring Road, leads you through the area of Námaskarð, with all its must-see attractions and apparent “wow factors”. East of Námaskarð you will find Hverarönd or “The Geyser Strip” where fumaroles and mud springs are scattered all over, decorating the area in the most stunning of colors. The leading berg found in the area is rhyolite, (the same as in Landmannalaugar) which gives the terrain all sorts of extraordinary colors such as pink, bright yellow, gray-blue and green. You can find these colors in the ground, in the hillsides, and in the mud springs. Everything is at a boiling point and great caution must be taken when walking around the area, you must follow the signs and instructions and keep on the paths.

The smell in the area is like everything else, affected by sulfur, but you will forget that quickly when the admiration of the surroundings takes over. The area isn’t just a  modern day geological wonder but also historic as volcanic eruptions have occurred again and again during the last centuries and scientists and geologists have flocked to the area since word spread about its activity. The most recent is the eruption in Krafla caldera.

Another thing that might catch your interest at Námaskarð is the sheer lack of vegetation and flora which is caused by the high temperatures in the area and the unforgiving soil and steam that fills the atmosphere. The constant release of the fumes has made the ground extremely sterile and acidic making it unfit for any plant growth.

Namaskard Geothermal Area North Iceland

GPS POINTS N65° 38′ 24.784″ W16° 49′ 19.788

Námafjall is a mountain South of Námaskarð, with geothermal heat all over the East side of the mountain which looks light yellow from afar. Sulfur was mined at Námafjall for centuries from the Hlíðarnámar and exported. At the foothills of Námsfjall you will find the hot spring strip, Hverarönd also called Hverir, a series of fumaroles, mud pots and pools that range in color and are ever changing.  

Námaskarð is located on the North side of Lake Mývatn about 400 meters (1312 ft) above sea level. Námaskarð is 493 kilometers (306,3 mi) away from Reykjavík, capital of Iceland, 105 kilometers (65,2 mi) from Akureyri and 160 kilometers (99,4 mi) from Egilsstaðir.  Driving the Ring Road 1 in Iceland you will pass through Námakarð so finding the location shouldn’t be too much trouble.

Namafjall area in North Iceland

As mentioned above the Ring Road One, the most popular road trip to take in Iceland cuts right through the Námaskarð Geothermal Pass so if you are on this route it will not be missed.

If you are driving the Ring Road clockwise you will likely start in Reykjavík, passing through Borgarfjörður, over the Holtavörðuheiði heath, through the towns of Borgarnes and the fjord Skagafjörður, pass the capital of the North Akureyri and lastly Lake Mývatn before reaching your destination. The drive would take more than 6 hours in one go and we couldn’t recommend it, there are just so many gorgeous stops you are going to miss doing it this way. More days are needed!

If you are driving the Ring Road counterclockwise you will likely start in Reykjavík and drive along the beautiful South Coast, past Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, and all the glaciers in the South East, you will drive in and out the Eastfjords and through Egilsstaðir, the capital of the East before reaching Námaskarð. This drive is even longer and would add up to 10,5 hours if you would do it in one rig but again we wouldn’t recommend it, there is just far too much to be seen on the way.



  • Hotel Reykjahlíð
  • Icelandair Hotel Myvatn
  • Fosshotel Myvatn
  • Vogafjos Farm Resort


  • Hlíð Hostel

Guesthouses and B&B

  • Eldá Guesthouse
  • Hlíð Bed and Breakfast

Cabins and Cottages

  • Hlið Cottages

Mývatn Geothermal Area

Námskarð is as gorgeous in Winter as it is in Summer, with all the geothermal heat and energy reigning the area it pretty much stays intact with some added snow in the surrounding cold spots and mountains. The only challenge that you might have would be getting there, the drive is gorgeous but being so far North and trying to visit such a remote location in the frost and snow Iceland has to offer over the Winter months can be nothing short of hazardous.

  1. Make sure you know what you are doing when it comes to driving in these circumstances.
  2. Be prepared, dress properly and check the weather and road condition before going out.
  3. If you are not ready to drive, take a look at the tour possibilities taking you there, get an expert to take you to these places safely. You can see them at the bottom of the page.

Asbyrgi Lava Park

If you are visiting Námaskarð you are most likely driving the Ring Road or visiting the North or East and there are a few experiences not to be missed.

  1. If you are visiting Námaskarð without a guide makes sure to read up on the history of the place before you arrive. This will get you to really appreciate the place and get to know it at a whole different level. There is so much to learn!
  2. Mývatn Nature BathsThe Blue Lagoon of the North – is only a few minutes away, to visit Námaskarð without a dip in the turquoise blue waters would be an unfulfilled trip. Get the best of both world on the geothermal scale!
  3. Hverfjall is an extraordinary place to explore and should surely be on the list. This place is without a doubt one of the most moon-like vistas you will encounter in Iceland and will take your imagination into space.
  4. Dettifoss, Selfoss and Goðafoss: The Three Musketeers, the water wonders of the North East. You simply can’t miss them. Once you are at Dettifoss it is only a few minutes walk down to Selfoss and Goðafoss, well you simply can’t skip the Waterfall of the Gods, can you?
  5. Dimmuborgir Lava Park; Iceland might not be a place of many trees but finding lava is not a tough task. Still, this enchanting park of lava formations will amaze anyone who visits! It is located right next to Lake Myvatn and Mt. Hverfjall so you will not have to drive far. The lava field and all of the lava sculptures naturally created by lava flow and volcanic eruptions in the area over the centuries are surely worth the visit. There are great walking paths and plenty of ways to go around the park and well worth the visit.
  6. If you are driving around the area, park somewhere safe and just take it all in. This area has the most unique and incredible landscape and you are going to want to cherish it!
  7. Ásbyrgi, one of the stops on the Diamond Circle and one of the many magical features found in the Vatnajökull National Park. This horseshoe-shaped, 3,5 km long and 1 km wide wonderment is a glacial canyon which offers you jaw-dropping views and spectacular sights as you roam around. Many Icelanders refer to this place as a paradise especially due to its birch flora and dark blue ponds. A true oasis in the middle of a volcanic zone!

Grjotagja Cave Iceland