The Kaldidalsvegur (officially known as Route 550) is the shortest of the highland tracks traversing the Highlands of Iceland, therefore the nickname "highlands for beginners". Its name derives from the valley it crosses: kaldidalur means "cold dale/valley.
Sometimes the Kaldidalsvegur is referred to as simply "the Kaldidalur". It is a thrill to drive in kaldidalur! Driving the ring road of iceland is a thing but driving offroad is another thing! The landscape of kaldidalur is mind boggling - you see rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks - then a river suddenly cuts through the rocks and then glaciers and massive packs of ice just looms in the horizon.
It couldnt be the moon, because the moon although composed of rocks has no water. It couldnt be an arid desert because deserts have no ice, and its icy cold here - it is a landscape that you can only see in small parts of the world and fortunately, Iceland has it.
The route begins a bit to the north of Þingvellir and to the west of the volcano Skjaldbreiður, which really comes up to its name (meaning broad shield).
The track continues between the glaciers Þórisjökull and Ok and leads up to the north. To the east of Reykholt it comes near the Reykholtsdalur to Húsafell. Then it continues up to Hvammstangi at the Miðfjörður.
Signed as route 550, the track is 40 kilometers long, and has no unbridged river crossings. The Kaldidalsvegur is not an F road, and a four-wheel-drive vehicle is not legally required to traverse it, however many car rental companies forbid the use of their two-wheel-drive vehicles on this interior route.
The other well known highland routes are Kjölur and Sprengisandur.
The Cold Valley route was much travelled in the past, especially between the inland located farms of the West and Northwest, and the Parliamentary Plains area. It was the first one to be made permanent with road building in 1830. The view from the highest lying point (727 m) enroute is excellent on a fine day. A few legends and Sagas are connected with this part of the country. A side road to the east from the main route leads to a hut at the edge of The Long Glacier, where adventurous glacier tours are on offer.
It is very important to check rainfall in this area before setting off and make sure you are well prepared for the trip.
You’ll need to check road conditions in advance through this site.
Average opening date: May 31st
Average closing date: September 23rd