For those looking to venture off-the-beaten-track, the rift valley of Gjástykki makes a worthwhile side trip from the Mývatn area or Akureyri - a steep-sided valley of lava fields and multi-colored slag, still hot with volcanic activity. Ravaged by the eruptions of the neighboring Krafla volcano, Gjástykki was hewn from a series of eruptions between 1724 and 1984, and remains a dramatic sight with 20-meter-high walls of lava rock and geothermal activity reaching temperatures of up to 400°F.
While many visitors come just to view the extraordinary landscape, Gjástykki also offers a unique example of Iceland’s tectonic plate movement. The still-active volcanic area covers around 10 square kilometers and lies on the mid-Atlantic ridge – the meeting point of the North American and Eurasian plates – with its landforms clearly showing the separation of the plates.
The volcanic area of Gjástykki is located 5km north of Mt. Krafla. The still-active valley is closed to public vehicles and visiting is only possible by guided tour.