Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Travel

All major mountain roads in Central Highlands now open, way ahead of schedule

By Staff

  • Sprengisandur plateau Sprengisandsleið traverses a vast Sub-Arctic desert plateau in the Central Highlands. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

All major routes in the Central Highlands have now been opened to traffic, two to three weeks earlier than usual. Most roads are in great condition. The reason roads are being opened this early is the unusually light snow in the Central Highlands.

Unusual conditions

Sprengisandur, sprengisandsleið, highlands

Sprengisandur The roads in the Central Highlands are little more than trails. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Among the roads which have been opened is Sprengisandsleið mountain road F26, the road over Sprengisandur plateau between Hofsjökull and Vatnajökull glaciers which was opened on Tuesday. Sprengisandsleið has never before been opened this early in the summer. Frequently the road remains closed until mid July. 

The Icelandic Road and Coastal Authority says the roads in the Central Highlands are in unusually good condition. The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service reports RÚV that only a handful of short stretches on the major routes were under deep snow and the water level in most rivers and rivulets is relatively low, which leaves the roads dry and makes unbridged river crossings, which might still be untraversable this early, traversable.

Travellers are already taking advantage of open roads

Sprengisandur_plateau.jpg

Sprengisandur plateau The otherworldly landscapes of the Central Highlands have inspired countless myths and legends. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

The regional manager for the IRCA in NE Iceland, responsible for mountain roads in the Central Highlands north of Vatnajökull glacier, told RÚV that he had met groups of travellers in the highlands shortly after the roads were opened who had been surprised by the good condition of the roads. 

Some Central Highland routes remain closed due to wet conditions, but the IRCA expects to be able to open these routes in the next few days or weeks. "All we need are a few warm and dry days, and the roads will dry up sufficiently to permit traffic." 

IMPORTANT!
Travellers are advised NEVER to drive onto closed mountain or highlands roads. Roads are closed to traffic for a reason!

Travellers are also advised that highlands roads, and all roads marked with an F (The F stands for Fjallvegur, Mountain Road) are only suitable for 4x4s and larger specially equipped SUVs. There are no service stations in the Central Highlands, and you must ensure you have a full tank before heading into the highlands.

Most rental car insurance does NOT cover damages caused by driving on F-roads. No rental car insurance covers damages caused when crossing unbridged rivers.

Before heading into the Central Highlands you should ALWAYS check road conditions at the site of the Icelandic Road and Coastal Authority, as well as checking the weather with the Meteorological Office.  

Mountain roads 22.6.17
Parts of Central Highlands still closed The conditions on Mountain Roads on June 22 Photo/IRCA

 

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