Road F208 is a rugged yet scenic drive in Iceland
F208 (Fjallabaksleið nyrðri) is one of the most challenging roads in Iceland. Expect very tough driving conditions, with potholes, rocks, uneven terrain, and even rivers to ford.
How long is the F208 (Fjallabaksleið nyrðri) Road?
Tucked away in the Central Highlands, the road is totally unpaved. It’s 102 km (63.37 miles) long, running north-south from F26 (Sprengisandsleið) to Route 1, commonly known as the Ring Road, south of Grafarkirkja. The road is bumpy but well-maintained and clearly marked. Regulations forbid driving this road with a vehicle that is not 4WD.
Is F208 open in Iceland?
The road doesn’t open until the middle of June. The mix of unpredictable weather with highland roads comes into play and needs to be taken seriously into consideration when planning a trip to the area. In theory, during the summer months, usually from June to October, the road should be open. Yet, this is highly variable, sometimes due to the seasons being considerably shorter, other times because of temporary road closures. 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. The road can be closed anytime because of flooding.
Is the F208 (Fjallabaksleið nyrðri) Road difficult?
Due to the terrain and a dozen or so river fords to be crossed, a 4x4 car is a must. The road crosses several rivers, so it’s impassable after rains. Expect very tough driving conditions with potholes, steep drop-offs, rocks, uneven terrain, and even rivers to ford. 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. It’s one of the famous F Roads of the country. Try not to travel alone 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. Law enforcement has been increased on that route, and the Icelandic Search and Rescue Teams have increased their presence in the area to assist travelers.
Is the F208 (Fjallabaksleið nyrðri) Road worth it?
Tucked away in the south of Iceland, the road offers scenic views of volcanoes, lakes, and rivers. The variety of landscapes and colors is just mind-blowing. At every turn, you just gasp for air because you discover another stunning valley. To drive the road without stopping will take most people between 3 and 4 hours.
Pic: Fabien Jérôme Blanc