Askja road is a dirt track winding to the Askja volcano, a stratovolcano situated in a remote part of the central highlands of Iceland. The road has some challenging sections, crossing several rivers. To drive on this road, you have to be driving a 4x4 vehicle. It is strongly advised that people travel together in 2 or more cars.
A traveler on this road must be experienced and completely devoted to safe, slow and obstacle-conscious driving to deter danger. The road to Askja goes from road 1 to road 901 and onto mountain road F905. Onward to F910 to Drekagil. On this route there are two fords to cross, usually small. From Drekagil goes mountain road F894 (8 km) to the car park at Vikraborgir. Another option is to go from road 1 to mountain road F88 via Herðubreiðarlindir to Drekagil. On this road ther are fords on the rivers Grafarlandsá and Lindá that need to be crossed. The fords can be difficult or even impassable for small jeeps. To drive this trails, you must have supreme confidence in your vehicle and your driving skills.
This trail passes through remote areas, so you need to be prepared. Starting from the Ring Road, the first 60km (37 miles) of Route F88 follow the western side of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum. Just south of the Ring Road and west of Route F88 is Hrossaborg, a 10,000-year-old crater.A small road leads from Route F88 right into Hrossaborg's natural amphitheater through a collapsed crater wall. In roughly 40km (25 miles), Route F88 comes to its first major ford at the Grafarlandaá river. 20km (12 miles) further south is Herðubreiðarlindir, a lovely highland oasis of moss, wildflowers, and springs gushing to converge on the Lindaá River. Herðubreið, a majestic table mountain, looms 6km (3 3/4 miles) to the west. Herðubreiðarlindir has a mountain hut and summer warden, and is also the launch point for the Öskjuvegurinn, a memorable 5-day trek through some of Iceland's starkest wastelands. The Öskjuvegurinn skirts Herðubreið, and reaches Askja's Drekagil hut on the second night. A 5-minute trail leads from Herðubreiðarlindir to the remains of a tiny underground shelter, where Fjalla-Eyvindur -- Iceland's most legendary outlaw -- reportedly survived the winter of 1774-75 on a diet of dried horsemeat and angelica roots. The original shelter collapsed and was renovated in 1922. Understand your vehicles 4 wheel drive system and know how to use it.
This is a maintained road where a high clearance 4WD vehicle is able to travel safely at low speeds on long dry straight-of-ways, without losing control due to wash boarding, ruts, or dips. To drive on this road, you have to be driving a 4x4 vehicle. It is strongly advised that people travel together in 2 or more cars. You should check information about the conditions of the roads before you start your journey (call 1777 or check www.road.is). Make sure that the F road you plan to travel on is open for traffic. Driving outside of the roads in the highlands is strictly forbidden. Actually, driving off road in Iceland is always forbidden! -Whenever possible, try to talk to local people about conditions in the area, such as rangers. Tell somebody about your travel plans. It is good to be prepared for all types of weather as the weather in the highlands can change almost with a blink of an eye. Be aware that telephone signals in the highlands are not very stable and you can go for a long while without a mobile connection. The emergency number in Iceland is 112. You are able to call it in the highlands, even without a mobile connection. There is no petrol station in the highlands so make sure you fill up! Portions of the road may be temporarily closed due to road work or inclement weather.
Some road sections may require a high clearance 4WD vehicle, driven by a driver experienced in 4WD drive techniques and being familiar with backcountry conditions. When you cross rivers, make sure that the 4 wheel drive has been engaged before going into the river. Drive very slowly and use the low range if possible. Never switch gears in the middle of the river. Glacial rivers usually have less water in the mornings. During warm summer days, the flow of the river can increase a lot. Heavy rain can also increase the flow of a river substantially. Be aware that rivers can sometimes not be crossed even if the road is open and you are driving a 4x4 vehicle. A good rule of thumb regarding glacier rivers is that if you would not want to wade through a river you should not drive through it. Crossing rivers can be a serious matter if people are not careful. Whenever possible, cross with someone with experience in crossing rivers. Fords over rivers are usually marked and should be easy to spot. Be aware of big rocks that might be under the surface of the water. The worst place to cross is where the water is most calm because that is usually the deepest part of the river. The best way to cross is to follow the torrent diagonally down the river, that way the torrent helps the vehicle over. Heavy or prolonged rain can cause local flash floods that cover the road with water or wash out culverts or bridges.
The route demands 100% concentration. This road has humbled many egos. It’s not for the sissies and shouldn’t be attempted by novice drivers. Most rivers on F-marked roads in Iceland are unbridged. When crossing these rivers be sure to assess the current, depth and the nature of the riverbed before driving in. If a river looks dangerous to cross, it probably is.
The road is in dreadful condition and requires strong nerves to negotiate it. It’s certainly breathtaking and it has a fearsome reputation. Keep an eye on the weather for thunderstorms and lightning. Do not travel this road in severe weather conditions. Try not to travel by yourself and even wait for another car to cross an unbridged river with you. This way you will be assured help if you run into trouble. The weather can affect the river conditions, rain and high temperatures can cause bigger streams and please note that glacial rivers swell as the day goes on.