The Snaefellsjokull National
Park was officially established on the 28th of June 2001, thus
becoming the fourth national park of the country.
Its boundaries follow the eastern border of the Gufuskalar estate on
the northern part of the peninsula, a line east of the glacier and along the
eastern edge of the Haahraun lava field to the Gjafavik cove in the south.
Within its boundaries are highly
interesting geological phenomena and historical sites. According to geological findings, the volcanic drift belt
crossed the Snaefells Peninsula about 6 million years ago. The volcanic activity at that time was similar to the one now
experienced in the present volcanic area.
Rivers, and later the ice age glaciation, carved the country and
removed 500-1000 metres off the lava plateau.
Intrusions of rhyolitic rock were created and sedimentation covered the
base rock. Volcanic activity
started again about 2 million years ago, mainly in the Ljosufjoll, the
Lysuskard and Snaefellsjokull areas. This
activity was unlike the earlier volcanism, because of the lack of drift and
the different composition of the tephra. The Snaefellsjokull area extends from
Mt. Maelifell in the east and the headland Ondverdarnes in the west.
The most obvious lava fields
in the westernmost part of the peninsula are Budahraun, Hnausahraun,
Klifhraun, Hellnahraun, Haahraun, Neshraun, Saxholahraun, Prestahraun and
Vaejuhraun. All of them are
rugged AA-lavas except Neshraun, which is a Pahoe hoe lava, created by the
caters Ondverdanesholar. The lava
fields Hnausahraun, Klifhraun, Hellnahraun and Vaejuhraun are probably younger
than 1750 years, but the Haahraun was created by an eruption of the main
crater of the Snaefellsjokull 1750 years ago.
During the earlier centuries
there was much activity along the coastline.
Wherever natural conditions permitted there were fishing outfits, where
hundreds, if not thousands, of fishermen, who frequented the rich fishing
grounds near the coast, used open rowboats.
The most renowned among them is Dritvik, where the fisheries probably
started in the 16th century, and according to the annals between
300 and 400 fishermen, using 60 boats, spent the time during the fishing
seasons. Ruins of their abodes
and a lava maze on the hill south of the cove are protected.
Other historic monuments are
scattered within the national park limits, some of which are connected with
legends and historic novels. Two
novels have put the Snaefells Peninsula permanently on the map, Jules
Verne’s novel “The Journey to the Centre of the Earth”, and Halldor
Kiljan Laxness’ novel “Christianity under the Glacier”.
(Picture: waterfall Klukkufoss).
According to the goal of the
legislation concerning the protection of nature, emphasis is put on making the
national park easily accessible for the public and the availability of
information about historic and cultural sites.
The staff of the national park will be able to receive school classes
and other groups to educate them and take them around on sightseeing tours.
Tourism and quality services
within the park are the main goals for the future. As before, individual travellers as well as groups will
frequent this area, and maps with hiking trails and spots of interests will
help them enjoy this remarkable part of the country to the fullest. The
Nature Preservation Institute is responsible for the national park and its 5
years protection plans.
open all year