Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge: Explore the Most Mysterious Crevasse in Iceland

Embark on an unforgettable adventure as we guide you through the enchanting Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge in Iceland. Discover the secrets of this majestic natural wonder, where dramatic landscapes and mythical tales converge.

Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge: Explore the Mysterious Crevasse in Iceland

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

It feels like something from an epic fantasy movie like Lord of the Rings or a series such as Game of Thrones or The Witcher when you visit Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge. Visit on a day that it’s overcast and a bit misty, and you half expect Legolas to come walking out in slo-mo.

The Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge is definitely not what we usually envision a gorge to be, and it is considered to be a must-see during a trip to the island. In this article, we tell you precisely what makes this gorge so unique and how to plan your visit.  

Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge: an Overview

Rauðfeldsgjá translates to ‘Red Cloak Rift’. The name comes from the legend surrounding the gorge, but we’ll get to that later. Rauðfeldsgjá is not so much the stereotypical image of a big and wide canyon-like hole winding its way through the earth but rather a crevasse in a mountain that reminds one of the entrance to some sort of other-worldly portal you’ve seen in a movie once.

Once you’ve entered and walked about 6 meters into the crack, you’ll find yourself in some kind of grotto with bright green moss lining the cliffs, a waterfall, and a little sandy island one can stand on in the midst of the water flowing around. It’s absolutely breathtaking, and many say that this “chamber” is already worth the trip to Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge.

For others who would like to venture further into the gorge and explore the rest of its wonders, the chamber merely signals the beginning of their journey. Not many tourists know about Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge, making it one of our hidden gems on the island.

rauðfeldsgjá gorge

Where is Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge in Iceland?

Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge is located in the Botnsfjall Mountain in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, a region in Iceland known for its incredible beauty. It’s roughly a 2.5-hour drive from Reykjavik, so we won’t recommend taking it on as a day outing from the capital city. Since Rauðfeldsgjá is located conveniently close to our famous Ring Road, many choose to add it as a stop to their road trip itinerary.

How to Get to Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge

You essentially have two ways of visiting the gorge:

Via a Tour

We have many tour companies and private guides here on the island that can take you to Rauðfeldsgjá on either one of their existing tour packages or a customized private tour. If this is the route you’d like to go, and you are planning your trip during our summer season, we advise you to book well in advance since it is considered our peak season, and tours tend to book up fast.

Via a Self-drive

This is our preferred way of exploring the island, since you’ll always be in complete control of your time and itinerary. Driving to Rauðfeldsgjá from Reykjavík’s direction is also very easy. Simply start driving north on the Ring Road to Route 54. You will then drive all along the Snæfellsnes Peninsula coastline. As you get closer to Snæfellsjökull Glacier, you’ll see the Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge parking lot. From there, it’s just an easy 500-meter walk to Rauðfeldsgjá. 

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The Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge Hike

As we already mentioned, there is an option to go beyond the grotto and explore the Rauðfeldsgjá ravine further by going on the Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge hike. This hike starts at the grotto by climbing up the rope by the waterfall (you will be getting wet, so if you want to avoid this, you’ll need to wear waterproof clothing and gear).

It is an out-and-back trail, and although it’s just a kilometer long, it will take you about half an hour to 45 minutes due to the moderately challenging climb (so don’t take this one on with small children or older people). There are plenty of places along the trail where the pathway becomes very narrow, where you will be required to do some clambering, and there is an elevation change of 84 meters.

When is the Best Time to Visit Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge?

Although Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge is technically open all year round, there are a few things to consider when planning your trip. As an outdoor attraction that includes outdoor activities, visiting during the colder months of the year is not advisable.

Not only because the weather can make things extremely uncomfortable, but icy and snowy conditions can make it dangerous as well. You also need to remember that our winter season gives you only 4-5 daylight hours to work with. Iceland’s summer season (June to August) is the best for outdoor attractions and activities.

You’ll have plenty of daylight hours, and the weather will be at its loveliest. During this time, you just need to keep in mind that it is considered to be our peak season, and things can get a bit busy when it comes to foot traffic. Yet, if you ask any avid local hikers, they will tell you that June is the best time to visit Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge.

raudfeldsgja ravine

How Much Time Do You Usually Spend at Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge?

You should set aside roughly 1-1.5 hours for a Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge outing. This will give you enough time to do the hike as well as general sightseeing and exploring in the gorge.

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge?

Absolutely nothing. Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge is one of the attractions here in Iceland that doesn’t charge an entrance or parking fee.

The Legend Surrounding Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge

As we mentioned earlier, the name Rauðfeldsgjá is due to the legend that surrounds it. It is said that a half-man, half-troll called Bardur Snæfellsas lived in Laugabrekka with his daughters. His brother, Sölvi, and his two sons lived nearby in Arnarstapi. The four cousins really enjoyed spending time together, and during one of their playdates by the shore, one of the boys, called Raudfeldur, pushed one of the girls onto an iceberg.

Although the girl was perfectly safe and unharmed despite having floated all the way to Greenland, her father was livid. And while this is entirely understandable, Bardur completely lost it. He pushed Raudfeldur into the gorge (hence the name) and pushed his brother off a nearby cliff (now known as Sölvahamar Cliff) to pay for his son’s transgression.

Whether it was due to guilt, shame, or sadness is debatable, but Bardur then retreated to Snæfellsjökull Glacier, where he was never seen or heard from again. Locals believe he is still there today, watching over and guarding the region. 

Legend of raudfeldsgja gorge

Things to Do & See Near Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge

Besides hiking, there are plenty of other things to do and see in and around the gorge. These are a few things you can look forward to:

  • Bird watching (avid birdwatchers love spotting a variety of species along the gorge and coast cliffs, including the Iceland Puffins from May to August).
  • Visiting the Fishermen’s Garden Turf House
  • Stopping at Svödufoss Waterfall
  • Going on a whale watching tour (if you come between the months of April and September, you’ll also get to see some of our migratory whale species)
  • Exploring the Vatnshellir Lava Cave (this can only be done via a guided tour due to safety concerns)
  • Going on a glacier hike across Snæfellsjökull Glacier
  • Visiting Ingjaldsholskirja Church
  • Checking out the village of Grundarfjordur
  • Exploring the Snæfellsness region on horseback (once again, you’ll find a good deal of horseback riding tours in Iceland giving this opportunity)
  • Strolling on Djupalonssandur Black Sand Beach
  • Checking out the Londrangar Lava Rock Formations
  • Visiting Sönghellir, also called the ‘singing cave’ (called as such because of the extraordinary acoustics in the cave – give it a try once you’re there)
  • Checking out Saxhöll Volcanic Crater
  • Visiting Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall (as seen on the popular series Game of Thrones)
  • Spotting the local seal colony lazying about in the sun and playing in the water at Ytri Tunga Beach

rauðfeldsgjá gorge hike

Where to Stay Near Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge

With so much to see and do in the area, many prefer staying over for a few nights, and you’ll have your pick of accommodation. You can book yourself into the luxurious Fosshotel Hellnar or Arnarstapi Hotel.

Or you can opt for a comfortable but less pricey stay at Vid Hafid Guesthouse or Guesthouse Snjofell. For even cheaper accommodation, you can opt for The Freezer Hostel or the Hellissandur Campingground.

Is Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge Really Worth the Visit?

Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge is a must-visit spot for many reasons: it won’t cost you a cent (which makes it perfect for those traveling on a tight budget), it won’t take up too much of your time since you can be done within an hour and a half (if you also do the hike), it’s very close to the Ring Road (so making it a quick stop along your road trip is easy), and let’s not forget that the site is absolutely breathtaking and one of the most Instagrammable spots in Iceland.

So, compile that Ring Road road trip itinerary, and don’t forget to include Rauðfeldsgjá, rent a car in Reykjavik, and hit the road for your ultimate Iceland adventure.

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