Road Closure in the Icelandic Highlands Skip to content

Road Closure in the Icelandic Highlands

Many of Iceland’s highland roads are yet to open for traffic. After a winter of heavy snowfall and outwash, roads cannot be opened to traffic as early as in the last two years. Only the southern highlands are expected to open on time, or around about mid-June, including the area of Meðalár.

Tourists traveling to Iceland to explore the highlands are often surprised when they discover that the roads are closed. The flow of information is very limited. Ever since the month of May, travelers continue to arrive at the turn-off to Landmannaleiðir and find the road closed to traffic.

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Landmannalaugar. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.

Anders Hansen, a rural tourism service provider at Leirubakki in Landasveit, told Morgunblaðið today that many tourists are very surprised to find the road closed, although some had worked it out for themselves after seeing a map showing closed roads at Keflavík International Airport.

“It’s essential to take into consideration the state of highland roads when promoting Iceland as an all-year tourist destination,” he concluded.

Páll Guðmundsson, managing director of the Iceland Touring Association (ITA), which runs the Hveravellir Tourism Services, agrees.

“Foreign travelers are impatient. We all need to make sure that tourists get the necessary information, information that tells them when they can and cannot travel on the highland roads. The goal of expending the tourism season is good and valid, but we must take into account nature’s ways. Icelandic nature is not able to receive travelers until the middle of June,” he told Morgunblaðið today.

Gunnar Guðjónsson, a caretaker at the Hveravellir Tourism Service adds that some people disregard the signs and travel onwards despite road closures in SUVs. Some fall prey to the bad road conditions and find themselves in deep trouble, and cause damage to the environment.

“In my opinion, the main reason for the road conditions in Hveravellir at Kjölur is the off-road driving,” he told Morgunblaðið today.

The current status of roads in Iceland varies. The Landmannalaugar roads open sometime in June, depending on the season. Generally, the northern Fjallabaksleið mountain road (F208) opens on June 11 and Landmannaleið road on June 12.

According to Morgunblaðið, Fjallabaksleið was cleared yesterday but the road is still very wet.

To find information on road conditions in Iceland visit the Safe Travel website. It is also possible for travelers to register their travel plans on the website as a safety precaution when visiting hazardous areas.

JB

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