World Waterfall Database

Glymur

Vesturland, Iceland

Status: Cataloged
This waterfall has been surveyed by members of the World Waterfall Database.

Detailed Info

Glymur is a waterfall of considerable size found along the Botnsá at the head of an impressively deep and narrow canyon at the head of Hvalfjorður, about an hour north of Reykjavik. Flowing from a modest lake across a relatively flat plain, the river encounters the head of the valley - which at first glance from the road does not look like it should harbor a waterfall of this size. Instead of gently cascading down or stair-stepping over several smaller waterfalls, the river has carved what is effectively a slot canyon on a massive scale - nearly a kilometer in length and well over 700 feet deep at its apex.

At the head of the canyon the falls plunge about 650 feet in two primary streams, one accounting for the majority of the flow of the river which skips down a sluice in a narrow horsetail form, and a second which veils out broadly over a ledge with a single step in it. Upon our visit in August of 2014 we attempted to measure the falls but found it was situated too far away to get an accurate reading, however in eyeballing the falls, we find 650 feet to be entirely plausible for its height.

Up until recently Glymur was considered to be the tallest waterfall in Iceland. This changed not because its stature had been mis-represented, but because the retreat of a glacier near Skaftafell - the Morsarjökull - brought to attention a taller waterfall which rightfully had claim to the title. This waterfall, now known as Morsárfoss, has actually existed for decades but has only recently achieved notoriety due to the increased attention being paid to the retreat of Iceland's glaciers.

History and Naming

Glymur is the Official name of this waterfall.

Has also been known as:

  • Glymur Waterfall
  • Glymurfoss

The word Glymur translates roughly to "crashing" or "roaring" in english - which is apt given the echoing roar produced by the falls as it thunders into the deep canyon.

Our Thoughts

Though it may not be terribly easy to see the whole waterfall, Glymur is without a doubt one of the best waterfalls in Iceland, and if you don't particularly care for the waterfall, then the canyon itself should be reason enough to visit as well, because it's extremely impressive in its own right. The trail to the falls is a bit difficult, and will not be suited to everyone, so be aware that you need to will need to be mobile to a certain extent in order to appreciate the whole area, but that caveat aside, put Glymur atop your list of places to visit in Iceland.

Photo Tips

Because of how long and narrow the canyon is, Glymur is a very difficult waterfall to photograph well. The vistas from the east rim of the gorge are by far the best available, but there are consolations to be made at each location - usually one part of the falls are obscured in favor of another. In no one location can the entire waterfall be seen. That said, there is a ton of potential for some really creative photos to be had here, at any variety of focal lengths. Just be extra careful around the edge of the canyon. Because the canyon is so deep, the facing of the falls is a non-factor. Expect part of the falls to be shaded for the vast majority of the day, with may be a 1-2 hour window around mid day where the whole thing could fall into the sun.

Location & Directions

Coordinates:   64.3911321, -21.2505874
Elevation:   0 feet

From Reykjavik, take Highway 1 north from its junction with Highway 49, and proceed for 24km, then turn right onto Route 47, marked for Hvalfjörður (if you go straight, you'll enter the tunnel under the fjord and bypass the most direct route to the falls). Follow Route 47 for another 35km and turn right just after crossing a bridge where a red and white sign indicates 'Glymur Foss'. Follow this road, keeping left at the junction after 0.75km, to its end in just over 3km at the trailhead. The trail begins by passing through a gate and following a gravel road. Watch for rocks marked with yellow paint to indicate the correct route - there are three or four spots where it gets a little confusing which tread to continue along. After 1.25km of easy walking the trail seems to end just before reaching the river below the gorge. Watch for steps descending toward what appears to be a cliff - the trail actually makes a sharp left bend and passes through a short cave in order to get down the cliff to the river below. At the lower entrance to the cave there are three natural bridges which provide a cathedral-like ceiling. After passing through the cave, the trail follows the river a short distance, then crosses the river on a narrow log with a cable hand rail. After crossing, the trail makes a steep climb out of the canyon with the assistance of rope hand holds on the steep sections (which may not be appropriate for small children) and then climbs more gradually to the first view of the falls after about 1.8km. Better views are had further up the side of the canyon, but the trail gets considerably steeper and less protected after this point. The best views are had at approximately 2.5 and 2.75km from the parking area. Additionally, there is a trail which climbs on the opposite side of the canyon and avoids the cave and river crossing, but the vistas of the falls aren't nearly as good.

View this location in Google Earth

Other Nearby Waterfalls

Additional Waterfalls which occur within 5 miles of Glymur
No additional waterfalls were found within 5 miles.

By The Numbers

The information presented in this table is meant to help identify and clarify the physical aspects of the waterfall for comparative purposes. While we try to ensure this information is as accurate as possible, sometimes it will prove necessary to either estimate or flat out guess at certain characteristics where either enough information isn't readily available, is not known, or we were not able to confirm a given trait upon surveying. This information may be changed at any given time to ensure accuracy.

Total Height

The Total Height listed for the waterfall represents the difference in elevation from the top of the uppermost drop, to the bottom of the lowermost drop of the waterfall, including all stretches of interstitial stream in between. Stream between two tiers of a waterfall is counted in its overall height regardless of whether or not that section of the stream would be legitimately considered a waterfall on its own right, were it to be isolated. Waterfalls with only one drop will of have the height of only the single drop listed here.

Tallest Drop

The Tallest Drop figure represents the height of the largest single drop within a multi-stepped waterfall. Waterfalls with only one drop will have the total height of the waterfall repeated here.

Num of Drops

The Number of Drops in a waterfall is a tally of the total number of distinct drops which make up the waterfall. Stretches of interstitial stream in between two or more distinct drops of a single waterfall are NOT considered to be distinct drops of the waterfall unless the section of stream in question would otherwise qualify as a waterfall were it to be isolated.

Avg Width

The Average Width of the waterfall represents the breadth of the waterfall from bank to bank under typical flow conditions, or if the waterfall has been Cataloged, under the conditions which it was most thoroughly surveyed. Often this number will be approximated because of a lack of approachability to many waterfalls. We often utilize Google Earth to measure the width (where imagery is of sufficient quality and resolution to allow it.

Maximum Width

Maximum Width represents a hypothetical measurement of roughly how wide a waterfall could get during peak streamflow or flood conditions. For smaller waterfalls, this figure will generally not differ much from the Average Width measurement, but for broader waterfalls - especially those that feature a crest that isn't constricted - this figure can at times be consideraby larger. Like the Average Width measurement, this measurement will take into account the difference in width at the top and bottom of the waterfall as much as possible, but will often be made based on the width of the crest of th falls alone.

Pitch

The Pitch of a waterfall is an estimated - often very roughly - measure of the average slope or steepness of a waterfall. The Pitch figure only takes into account sections of stream which are actively falling. Pools or stretches of level stream in between two or more successive drops of the falls will not factor in this figure. As an example, a waterfall which features two truly free-falling leaps separated by several dozen yards of flat stream will have a Pitch of 90 degrees. Similarly, a waterfall with two drops separated by a pool, one with a true free-falling drop, and one with a Horsetail type fall will average the two, so while the Plunging drop has a Pitch of 90 degrees, if the Horsetail drop has a Pitch of 45 degrees, the total Pitch will be roughly 67 degrees.

Run

The Run of a waterfall is a measurement representing the total linear distance on the ground between the top and bottom of a waterfall. This figure is not often easy to establish with a high degree of precision and as such will often be estimated. Waterfalls with a longer Run will usually either be less steep, often cascading type waterfalls, or will feature multiple steps separated by shorter stretches of a more gradual gradient streambed.

Form

The system of classification of waterfall forms we use is a heavily modified derivative of the classifications outlined by Greg Plumb in his "Waterfall Lover's Guide to the Pacific Northwest" books. While plumb uses eight distnct forms, we wanted further granularity and opted to break down the hierarchy twofold: first based on the overall pitch of the waterfall, and then based on what shape the fall takes as it makes its descent. There are five primary Categories of falls in this system: Plunge, Horsetail, Steep Cascades, Shallow Cascades, and Rapids. Additional deliniation is then applied depending on characteristics such as the breadth of the falls, whether it splits into two or more channels, whether it falls in multiple successive drops, etc. For more information on our waterfall form classifications, see the Help page.

Watershed

The watershed which a waterfall occurs within, if it is specified, will be based on the ultimate distributary watercourse to the ocean. For example, Washington's Palouse Falls occurs along the Palouse River - which is a tributary to the Snake River, which is itself a tributary to the Columbia River, which ultimately enters the Pacific Ocean, so Palouse Falls would then fall within the Columbia River watershed. Streams which empty directly into the ocean, or into a minor basin which then empties to the ocean will often have this field left blank.

Stream

The name of the watercourse which the waterfall occurs along. If the watercourse is not known to have an officially or colloquially recognized name, this field is left blank.

Avg Volume

The volume of water present in the stream at the location of the waterfall. This is often the most difficult figure to pin down because accurately measuring streamflow is not a simple process. We will rely on USGS data as much as possible, and attempt to take into account seasonal fluctuations in stream levels if possible. There is no guarantee that this figure will be accurate, and in cases where there is no USGS data to use, it may be a very, very rough estimate at best.

Source

If known, the primary source of the watercourse which produces the waterfall will be listed here. This is helpful in determining whether a waterfall may flow more consistently during certain periods of the year - streams which originate in Springs, Lakes, or Glaciers will often flow more consistently throughout the year than those fueled by simply Runoff. The source of the stream may also be either unknown or undetermined.

Flow Consistency

A rough estimation of how many months out of the year the stream which produces the waterfall will actually hold water. The vast majority of waterfalls featured on this website will technically be truly perennial waterfalls (those that flow all year long), but some may see their flow dwindle greatly in the late summer months. This figure will not take into account the winter months when the waterfall may freeze, because in such cases the waterfall will very often be inaccessible. Entries which specify a Flow Consistncy of 12 Months should in general have an acceptable flow at any time of year (but may be better during certain periods - see below).

Best Flow

A general estimate of the best period of the year during which time the falls will be considered at optimal conditions, or flowing at their best. There may be variance within the range specified where the flow will be better or worse, but visiting at any time in the range specified (if available) will generally present the waterfall in its best light.

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Key

Cataloged Icon
Cataloged
Waterfalls which are Cataloged we have visited and surveyed in person. Statistical information should be quite accurate (for the most part), and exact measurements will often be available (information is not guaranteed to always be up to date). Detailed information, directions, and photographs will almost always be available.
Confirmed Icon
Confirmed
Confirmed Waterfalls are known to exist, should be relatively accurately mapped and geotagged, and the statistical information available will often be dependable. If height information is presented, it may be estimated but should be accurate. Directions will not likely be available.
Unconfirmed Icon
Unconfirmed
Unconfirmed Waterfalls are often marked on a published map, but we have yet to confirm the exact location and / or whether or not its stature is significant enough to qualify for listing in the database. Statistical information may be estimated and may be inaccurate. No directions.
Unknown Icon
Unknown
Waterfalls marked as Unknown are either suspected to exist based on heresay or a hunch, or we have received unverified information suggesting a waterfall may exist near the location provided but cannot corroborate it in any way. Geodata may not be accurate, the location may not be known at all, and statistical information will be estimated and highly inaccurate.
Inundated Icon
Inundated
Inundated Waterfalls have been submerged beneath lakes or reservoirs, usually a result of impoundment of a river behind a dam, and most often no longer functionally exist (there may be rare exceptions). We maintain records for these features out of historical importance.
Subterranean Icon
Subterranean
Though not common, some waterfalls can be found entirely underground within cave systems. Access to subterranean waterfalls can vary from easy via developed walkways to requiring a high level of extremely technical spelunking skill, including familiarity with ropework and a distinct lack of claustrophobia.
Disqualified Icon
Disqualified
Waterfalls which have been marked as Disqualified do not have the necessary stature or features to qualify as a legitimate waterfall according to our criteria. We will maintain records for entries with this status where the feature is well known and / or may have been historically referred to as a waterfall at some point in time.
Posted Icon
Posted
Posted Waterfalls are known to exist, and we may have a large amount of information associated with them, but are located on private property and are not legally accessible to the general public. Accessing waterfalls with this status should not be attempted without first being explicitly granted permission of the property owner.
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