Driving on F-Roads to Askja
Updated: Sep 27, 2019
Iceland is a beautiful country full of hidden gems and ideal for exploring by car. You can discover unique villages, remote areas of North Iceland like Askja, and the cold glaciers of the southeast. It is also known as a country which is best to visit by car. Some of those places are only accessible during a few months of the year and special care should be taken. This is the case of Askja.
Askja is a remote place in the central part of Iceland with an out of this world landscape. It resembles the moon’s terrain, and for that reason the training for Apollo program took place here. This should already give you a hint that driving to Askja must be somehow difficult and different than in any other place. If you are planning on driving on F-roads in Askja you should definitely make a use of our safety tips and advice.
How to get to Askja
Askja can be only reached by F-roads after starting your trip on the Ring Road which is a paved road. Here you go some hints for both options.
To choose the easier way to get to Askja, you should start your trip on road 901 and then turn onto F905 which as the name says- is a mountain F-road. This is where your adventurous driving starts. You will stick to this road for the next 21 kilometres (13 miles) to then turn into F910. Here prepare yourself for a longer drive as you will keep on with this road till the end and this is another 62 kilometres (32 miles ). Although this is said to be the easier route, you will encounter three river crossings here.
After around a five kilometer drive from entering on F910, and the second one is a few minutes later. The first river crossing is not really challenging so it is even omitted on the maps. You’ve probably heard about the bridges on the roads to Aska, and this is right. Those might be closed but are not locked, so you can open them to pass but remember to close them back before you leave.
We do recommend to visit the Dreki shelter where you can get some information on the weather conditions from the rangers and check if the trail is open for hiking. After seeing the Drekagil canyon there are 20 more minutes drive on F894 till you get to the final car park from where you will start your trek. The total driving on those roads will take around 3 hours each way.
There is a second option as well which often comes up in Google search as the best one, but as already mentioned in our previous posts, we do not recommend it. If you do not have much experience with driving on gravel roads, you should stick to the first route. This involves the famous F88. Several river crossings on this route are mostly impossible for the 4x4 cars and you really need a Super Jeep to pass them. Those have snorkels and the clearance is sufficient.
Askja road conditions
Some of the areas of Iceland are only accessible during the few summer months. This is due to the location in the rough, severe central area called the Highlands. It is an uninhabited area, away from the well-known Ring Road, full of lava fields, volcanic landscapes and glaciers. Driving in this region is extremely challenging especially for those who are not used to driving in severe conditions.
As mentioned above, you can only go on a trip to Highlands, and this includes Askja, during the summer months. Why is that? Simple, because of the bad road and weather conditions. Starting from end of September till June, the roads has snow, ice and mud in later months. The Icelandic roads administrative decide on the closure, depending on the weather and roads conditions so there is no fixed dates. The climate is changing constantly and so the opening and closing dates change as well. It doesn’t mean though that if the road is already open, it is completely safe to travel to Highlands. You are responsible for your own safety, remember that.
The road conditions in Askja are extremely rough and the extreme weather conditions do not make driving any easier. The roads that cross the Highlands are easy to recognize as those are marked with F plus the number of the road; for example F735. The F-roads are gravel roads which are bumpy, full of loose stones, and are narrow and curved.
In order to be able to drive on F-roads you definitely need a 4x4 vehicle and as we already emphasized, it should not be the standard small SUV like Duster or Jimny but a bigger one with higher clearance. Sometimes these are not enough as to reach Askja. You need to cross the rivers and it is risky driving. If you do not have enough experience in driving in tough circumstances, we do recommend you joining a tour to Askja.
Safety tips for driving on F-roads to Askja
The most important thing during your trip to Askja is safety. We have few safety tips for your driving on F-roads. Let’s start with the speed limits, which is 80 km/h on gravel roads. However that does not mean you need to drive with this speed. Normally you need to drive much slower and sometimes you will even need to reduce the speed or even stop.
On F-roads going to Askja, you will find one lane bridges and very narrow parts where you should stop when passing another car. We do recommend you reduce the speed to avoid any damages to your car, as the loose stones coming from the other car can hit the body of your car causing chips and dents.
River crossing is extremely challenging and unless you had the experience in it, you should not do this. If you already decide you will be crossing the rivers, try to do it in a group of two or more cars and ask the locals for advice. In your rental company, the agents will be happy to give you safety advice and some tips on how to cross the rivers.
As mentioned before, Icelandic weather is unpredictable. It is said that you can experience all four seasons in one day. And this is not exaggeration but is absolutely true. The weather forecasts and alerts will become your best friend during your trip to Askja. If there are any alerts saying that conditions will get worse it is better to postpone the trip. It is good to have a plan B when driving to Askja in this case.
Stopping just anywhere is dangerous, even though we do understand well that you would like to take some pictures. The visibility on Highlands’ roads can be bad and there might be a car coming from the other side. Simply wait until you get to the car park where you can take a break.
A quick thing about planning your trip. Do not always trust the driving time that Google indicates. Remember that the weather conditions are not taken into consideration and the time of the year. If you encounter snow or ice on the F-roads or you happen to travel on a rainy day, it will obviously take longer. You should have 12 hours for your Askja volcano trip that is also why it is good to travel there in summer when days are longer so make use of the Icelandic Midnight Sun.