Road 622

Road 622 is a hazardous drive below sea level when the tide is high

Road 622 is one of the most defiant drives in the world. Located on the coast of the fjord Dýrafjörður in the mountainous peninsula Westfjords of northwestern Iceland, some say it’s the most terrifying road in the country. That is an insanely beautiful route to take with the road carved into and under cliffs and great mountain views all the way. If you have a Jeep, 4x4 experience, time and steel nerves, it is possible to drive this road.

How long is the Road 622 in Iceland?

The road, also known as Svalvogur road, is totally unpaved. It’s 51.0 km (31.68 miles) long, running from Þingeyri to Hrafnseyri, through the Dýrafjördur and Arnarfjördur fjords in the mountainous peninsula Westfjords. To drive on this road you need a 4x4 with high ground clearance. It's a loose rocky track, and sometimes muddy. Expect rough gravel, and even mud, and you have to go on low tide on the south part of it. A large portion of it is also below sea level when the tide is high. The road is also known as Kjaransbraut - the Kjaran's Avenue. Remember that inexperienced drivers can easily lose control of the car on unpaved roads. Surprisingly it does not carry an "F" label and yet it is a real good 4x4 track.

How long does it take to drive Road 622 in Iceland?

To drive the picturesque road without stopping will take most people between 2 and 3 hours. It gives access to a small cove called Svalvogar. At the middle of the road, remember to visit the Svalvogaviti lighthouse (built in 1920). 

Is Road 622 in Iceland worth it?

The road is very scenic and offers sweeping views of Northwestern Icelandic coastline. Locals call the route the Dream Road for its incredible scenery. It’s an insanely beautiful route to take with the road carved into and under cliffs and great mountain views all the way. The road offers spectacularly scenic shoreline on one hand and breathtaking mountain range, often referred to as ‘Westfjord Alps’ on the other.

Is the Road 622 in Iceland open?

The weather can change very rapidly and driving conditions therefore too. Thunderstorm activity can quickly change unpaved roads to impassable. The lowest lying parts of the route are usually washed away in winter storms and it is only open a couple of months, from spring through to the first storm. Travellers should be aware that, due to various weather conditions, the road can close unexpectedly. Not many people go this remote and truly impressive road, and you should ask in the gas station at Þingeyri if the road is open. It closes every winter due to landslides and falling rocks. The exposed road is dangerous in strong wind. Landslides and falling rocks are common. The road is partially near sea-level, so high water causes flooding. Don’t underestimate the friendly landscape in the sun. Weather can turn fast in Iceland. Also check the times and the coefficients of the tides, because it can happen that the sea comes to submerge the track at the level of the pebble area. It is therefore better to take this track at low tide, or by being certain that the high tide will not reach the track.

Is the Road 622 in Iceland scary?

This track is therefore not to be taken lightly. Several risk factors must be taken into consideration: landslides which can be dangerous, leave large stones on the track, high tide which can sometimes come to the track and submerge it and the pebble area which will necessarily require a good 4x4 to be able to pass there. Some parts can be quite scary if you dislike steep roads with drop-offs and loose gravel. The road is literally on the mountain ledge. Driving in a small passenger car is simply and plainly irresponsible and can be very dangerous: you’ll end up with a huge rescue bill.  Expect to be alone, this track is not very busy. It is not recommended to drive unaccompanied. In case of a problem you have to be self-reliant. It is very difficult to drive and bad for those afraid of heights. The driver has got to have nerves of steel. It’s pretty narrow, with overhanging rocks in places, and right on the edge in other, and you have to make sure you drive some parts of it on low tide. In many places this road is nothing more than a very rocky and narrow track.

When was the Road 622 in Iceland built?

The road was built in 1973 by Elís Kjaran Friðfinnsson (1928-2008), using a small bulldozer.
Pic: marek chomiak