Kerið Crater: Exploring Iceland’s Majestic Volcanic Wonder

  • by Neil
  • Golden Circle Iceland
  • 3 Mar 2023

Kerið Crater: Exploring Iceland’s Majestic Volcanic Wonder

Kerið is a 6500 year old volcanic crater located in southern Iceland. In recent years Kerið has become a very popular stop for visitors to our shores. BusTravel Iceland now includes this stop in all our Golden Circle tours.

Where is Kerið Volcano located?

Kerið is located about 60 minutes drive from the capital region and can be included as part of both Golden Circle or South Coast itineraries. It sits in an area renowned for its remarkable topography, the landscape reflecting the scars of thousands of years of volcanic activity. Its strategic position guarantees seamless access for visitors eager to witness one of Iceland’s iconic natural wonders.

Proximity to Attractions

Kerið Crater benefits from its close proximity to several key attractions within Iceland’s Western Volcanic Zone. Being a part of the popular Golden Circle tour, the crater is often included in day trips alongside other geological marvels. The crater is situated approximately 15 minutes from the small town of Selfoss, and Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital, lies around an hour’s drive to the west, making it a convenient location for those staying in urban areas.

Additionally, touring the Golden Circle Route places us within reachable distances to the Reykjanes Peninsula and Langjökull Glacier. The crater itself is only a short detour off Route 35, making it an accessible stop even for those on a self-guided tour of Southern Iceland.

Our access to Kerið is facilitated by a well-maintained parking lot just a stone’s throw from the crater’s edge, ensuring that parking is seldom a concern for us upon arrival. 

There is a small entrance fee to visit Kerið, ISK 450 per person in 2023. This fee is included in all our Golden Circle tours.


Kerid volcano during winter
Kerið Crater Iceland

How was Kerið Volcanic crater created?

In the exploration of Kerið Crater’s geological formation, we recognize the interplay of volcanic activity, the development of a caldera, and the erosion of a magma chamber. These processes collectively shape this remarkable natural wonder.

Volcanic activity is the primary force behind the creation of Kerið. We see evidence of explosive eruptions that propelled volcanic rock across the landscape. The unique composition of these rocks tells us the story of intense heat and pressure during the crater’s fiery genesis. The lava fields extend for many kilometers either side of Kerið and are now covered in distinctive moss.

Following the period of explosive activity, a volcanic caldera took form as the land surface collapsed. This collapse was not due to a single dramatic event but rather the cumulative effect of gradual depletions from the underlying magma reserve, resulting in a pronounced depression, now filled with water, becoming the characteristic volcanic crater lake of Kerið.

Magma Chamber Erosion

The final chapter in Kerið’s formation was written by the erosion of the empty magma chamber. Over time, natural forces such as water and wind wore away at the volcanic rock, further shaping the crater into its current form. This process is less apparent but crucial in understanding the broader context of the crater’s development.

Through these subsections, we gain a comprehensive understanding of Kerið Crater’s origins—a testament to the awe-inspiring power of Earth’s natural forces.

Crater Lake Formation

The formation of the Crater Lake in Kerið stems from the collapse of a volcanic cone post-eruption. Over time, groundwater accumulation mixed with precipitation leads to the creation of the lake. The neon blue coloration of the lake is a consequence of minerals dissolved in the water, reflecting sunlight to produce this vivid hue.

Kerið’s water table is influenced by the water balance between rainfall and evaporation. Due to consistent rainfall in the region, the water table is sufficiently replenished, ensuring the lake remains a prominent feature throughout the year. Its level is mostly stable, yet may fluctuate slightly with seasonal changes.

Kerið in winter

Kerið: Nature and Conservation

Kerið Crater, as a protected geological feature, holds considerable ecological importance. We recognize its unique contribution to local biodiversity and its role within the broader volcanic landscapes of Iceland.

Natural Habitat

Kerið Crater Lake is a vibrant natural habitat, supporting a variety of flora and fauna unique to its volcanic environment. The steep sides of the crater provide a sanctuary for nesting birds, while the aquatic ecosystem of the lake fosters diverse life forms. Vegetation around the crater thrives, adapting to the mineral-rich soil that volcanic craters like Kerið are known to offer, thus contributing to the complex ecosystem.

Conservation Efforts

We are actively engaged in conservation efforts to preserve Kerið’s delicate ecosystem. These efforts focus on maintaining the integrity of the crater lake and its surroundings. Visitors are encouraged to follow responsible tourism practices to minimize human impact, aligning with guidance from local authorities on environmental protection. By controlling foot traffic and limiting certain activities, we aim to ensure that the nature and ecosystem intrinsic to Kerið and similar volcanic craters are safeguarded for future generations.

Nykur, the mythical sea creature that visits Kerið

Kerið Volcano in Folklore

In exploring Kerið Crater, we delve into a realm where geology and folklore intertwine, presenting a cultural tapestry as rich as the landscape itself.

Local Legends

Within the Grímsnes region, Kerið is not just a visually recognizable caldera but also a fountain of local myth. Stories have circulated about mythical beings such as the water kelpie or Nykurinn, believed to travel by secret tunnels to the crater’s lake. In folklore, a kelpie is a horse-like creature. These stories capture our imagination and offer a glimpse into the region’s superstitious past.

Historical Landmarks

As we survey the area, the Tjarnarhólar group of crater hills presents a landmark geologically and historically significant to us. These hills are among the distinctive features that make the landmark of Kerið so remarkable. The crater itself is a relatively young addition to the Icelandic landscape, further solidifying its status as a prime geological interest point within the country’s vast geological spectrum.

About the author
Neil works in sales and marketing at BusTravel Iceland. He writes content and also creates private and custom tour itineraries. A native of Ireland, Neil has lived and worked in Iceland for more than 10 years. He enjoys multi-day hikes such as Horstrandir and of course Laugavegurinn.

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