Driving the defiant Road F261 (Emstruleið)
Located in south Iceland, the F261 (Emstruleið) is a very challenging journey with breathtaking landscapes and rugged potentially difficult river crossings.
Situated in the heart of the black ash desert of Mælifellssandur, the road is 37.2 km long running west-east from Road 261 towards Road 210. It is a rough and challenging road only for a 4 wheel drive vehicle with high clearance. The track is pretty bad, it's not rolling with a lot of big stones. Expect large potholes, many ruts and large boulders on their surface. Driving in a small passenger car is simply and plainly irresponsible and can be very dangerous. It’s one of the famous F Roads of the country.
The road is surrounded by lunar landscapes, and is pretty bumpy. It’s only open during the summer months, usually between late June and early September. Expect to be alone, this track is not very busy even and very remote. In case of a breakdown, there is very little in the way of passing traffic or inhabitants around, and no cell phone service in parts. The road runs travels through absolutely stunning landscapes offering stunning views.
You will have to cross some deep rivers along the route. Crossing big rivers requires a bit of experience. Do not attempt to cross with one car, or during heavy rain. It can be treacherous if the water level rises due to lots of rain and warm weather. Only well equipped jeeps and larger vehicles are able to cross the rivers. Always check the river to ensure that it's not too deep. This road is amazing by day, but can be dangerous during the dark night. Rental car insurance does not cover damages from water, including any damage caused by crossing rivers.
Pic: Brad Bannister