Driving the defiant Road F261 of Iceland

Located in south Iceland, the F261 Road (Emstruleið) offers a very challenging drive with breathtaking landscapes and potentially difficult river crossings.

Road F261 (Emstruleið)

How long is F261 road in Iceland?

Situated in the heart of the black ash desert of Mælifellssandur, the road is totally unpaved. It’s 37.2 km (23.11 miles) long, running west-east from Road 261 to Road 210. It is a rough and challenging road suitable only for a 4-wheel-drive vehicle with high clearance. The bumpy track is quite challenging, with numerous large stones. The road traverses absolutely stunning landscapes, providing breathtaking views. It’s one of the famous F Roads of the country.

How to cross the rivers on F261 road?

Along the rough dirt road, you’ll need to navigate some small fords, and near the end (next to Road 210), you’ll encounter the Blafjalakvisl river. Crossing rivers requires some experience. Do not attempt to cross with a single car or during heavy rain. It can be treacherous if the water level rises due to rain and warm weather. Only well-equipped jeeps and larger vehicles can safely cross the rivers. Always check the river to ensure it's not too deep. This road is amazing during the day but can be dangerous at night. Rental car insurance does not cover damages from water, including those caused by crossing rivers.

Is the F261 road in Iceland open?

Nestled in the southern Icelandic highlands, the road is surrounded by lunar landscapes. It's only open during the summer months, usually between late June and early September. Expect solitude; this track is not very busy and is very remote. In case of a breakdown, there is minimal passing traffic or inhabitants around, and there is no cellphone service in some parts.
Pic: Brad Bannister