The volcanic fields located few kilometers North of the Ring Road, East of Mývatn, are known with the name of Krafla. Take your time on your way here. The approach to Krafla is part of the beauty of the area. The gigantic pipes of the Geothermal Power Station, Kröflustöð, flank the road and create a bizarre gateway which welcomes you in this evocative realm, while all around plumes of steam placidly rise from the silver chimney over the desolate ground.
Kröflustöð is one of the two power stations in the area (the other one is located right next to Mývatn) and the main one in north Iceland, thanks to the highly active volcanic fields. Last night in Húsavík or Reykjahlíð, you most likely were able to use your hairdryer thanks to the work they do here. If you want to know more about the process of converting geothermal heat to electricity, you should consider a visit at the free Krafla Visitor Center, open every afternoon in summer.
At the end of the road you will need only few minutes to reach the top of the crater of “Hell”. Viti (in icelandic, hell, indeed) is a steam crater formed in 1724 which contains a turquoise pool. Keep from jumping into the sparkling water and take the nice trail that circles the top of the ridge. Looking East you can see the small mountain, 818mt high, after which all the area is named, Krafla. Looking West you might be able to have a glimpse over one of the most surreal landscapes you’ll ever see. Climb down and walk the short distance to Leirhnjúkur lava fields.
What you can see here are the remnants of the last eruption dating 1975 to 1984. Don’t make the common mistake of taking few pictures of the boiling mud pots and heading back. Give yourself time to explore all the primordial magnificence of the multi colour painted fields where magma, moss and lichen sprayed with sulphurous emissions create a striking landscape. Just remember: don’t climb anything and watch out where you step. The light coloured soil indicates a very thin portion of earth crust and the ground can be extremely warm.
How to get here:
It doesn’t matter where you are coming from. You need to follow road n.1 until the junction with road n.863 on which you’ll drive 9km direction North in order to reach Krafla. The junction roads n.1/n.863 is 6km West of Reykjahlíð, on lake Mývatn, and 20km East of the junction between road n.1 and road n.862, which leads to the western side of Dettifoss, to Hljóðaklettar and to Ásbyrgi.