Urriðafoss

Urridafoss: Where Salmon Jump as Waters Fall

The river Thjorsa quietly flows in the southwestern part of Iceland, where the Urridafoss waterfall is located. The Thjorsa has the distinction of being the longest river in the country and runs to an extent of 230 kms. The water catchment area is the inner desert of Sprengisandur, the north highlands and discharges into the glaciers: Vatnajokull, Tungnafellsjokull and Hofsjokull. It is the river which divides the local areas of Arnes and Rangarvellir. To the south of this area, one can witness, a few places, where dams have been built on the river. This is the area which supplies hydroelectric power to many parts of Iceland.

Till now, there has been resistance by Icelanders to the building of power plants on the Urridafoss waterfall and also a railway line from there connecting the capital Reykjavik. But reports now say that plans are on the anvil to build hydroelectric generation stations on the lower part of the Thjorsa river at Urridafoss and Nupur.

Reaching the waterfall is easy, by vehicle one has to take the side road which is located to the west of the new Thjorsa bridge on national highway Number One. Then one comes upon Iceland’s biggest and spectacular waterfall. One can feel the sea breeze coming upon the viewer as the falls is close to the coast. The waters flow on a strong rock platform, which scientists say was formed during the ‘Hreppar Formation’, a classification of glacial periods. The waterfall is undoubtedly one of the voluminous waterfalls in Iceland next only to the river Olfusa. The Thjorsa waters at the Urridafoss drop six meters down at their highest point.

This waterfall has been shown on many television channels worldwide and footage of them river during winter which accumulates large tracts of ice downstream to form impromptu dams, which metastasize as it snows.

It is here that the Salmon fish can be seen swimming upriver to the waterfall, jump up and swim further upstream. The salmon of the area are known to have strong and long tail fins in order to clear the 6 m high waterfall. Trout and Eel are found in the river and it is also teeming with other kind of river life.

Iceland is divided over the hydropower project on the Urridafoss. Once the plant is installed, it would undoubtedly provide electricity and help the economy. But the beauty of watching the canyons of the Thjorsa below the waterfall, in spring, when the river is breaking free from the great ice barriers and falling magnificently into the river will be snatched away forever.

One should visit the waterfall to bask in its beauty and present your respects to the marvel of nature and join the effort to the save the Urridafoss.