Dettifoss is the Largest Waterfall in Europe

by Joe Dorish 8 months ago in nature

Dettifoss is the largest volume and perhaps the most magnificent waterfall in all of Europe

Dettifoss is the Largest Waterfall in Europe

Dettifoss is an incredibly beautiful and powerful sight and the largest volume waterfall in Europe. It is located in northeast Iceland in Jökulsárgljúfur National Park along the Jökulsá á Fjöllum (river).

The river is fed by the largest glacier in Iceland called Vatnajökull. The Jökulsá á Fjöllum is the second longest river in Iceland and drains most of the northeast part of the island which causes the heavy volume flow of water at Dettifoss.

Some 2.5 million people a year travel to Iceland. Not all of them make the trip to Dettifoss but many of them do. For most it is well worth the trip plus they can say they have been to the largest waterfall in all of Europe.

Dettifoss is the Largest Waterfall in Europe

Dettifoss drops a total of roughly 144 feet, is 328 feet wide and has a water flow of over 500 cubic meters per second during the spring runoff. Its water flow is magnificent and leaves a lasting impression.

What also leaves a lasting impression is the sheer beauty of the canyon the river has carved out both above Dettifoss and below the mighty waterfall. The canyon's beauty is enhanced by the slight green hue of whatever plant life can form here and also by the incredible hues of color in the water that is created by all the minerals present in the water.

In addition to mighty Dettifoss there are number of other waterfalls along the Jökulsá á Fjöllum and canyon it has so majestically carved in the area.

Selfoss (pictured above) is upstream from Dettifoss and further down the canyon is Hafragilsfoss. Selfoss is located about a few hundred meters along the river above Dettifoss while Hafragilsfoss is just a short six minute drive downstream from Dettifoss.

While both Selfoss and Hafragilsfoss are pretty impressive waterfalls both pale in comparison to the sheer volume and drop of Dettifoss.

Also in the area is Urriðafoss (photo below) but if anyone wants to see that waterfall they had better hurry because plans are underway to build a hydroelectric power plant at Urriðafoss, which will effectively make the waterfall disappear. Plans have been in the works since 1927 to build a power station at Urriðafoss but it still not has happened.

Locals have been campaigning to keep the hydroelectric power plant from being built here and so far they have been successful. Tourism is a huge part of the economy in Iceland and the country has to weigh all the impacts to tourism when considering wiping out a waterfall to build a hydroelectric power station. Which will have a better and more lasting impact to Iceland?

The east side of Dettifoss can be reached along Route 864 while the west side is reached from Route 862. The roads are not great if you want to rent a vehicle and drive but if that is a problem tour buses do go up to Dettifoss. If you do go you must be careful as the powerful Dettifoss is continually eating away at the river bank. Stand too close and you might just go over with some rocks. The gray milky color of the water at Dettifoss is testament to how much the river is eroding the earth and carrying away sediment and minerals here.

Dettifoss is so powerful that it sprays water continuously in the air which creates abundant opportunities to see rainbows on sunny days adding to the beauty of this already magnificent place.

If you love waterfalls and are visiting Iceland your journey will not be complete without a trip to powerful and beautiful Dettifoss the largest volume waterfall in Europe.

Joe Dorish
Joe Dorish
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Joe Dorish

Joe Dorish is a native New Yorker who has traveled to all 50 states and beyond.

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