Kerið Crater Lake – Iceland - Atlas Obscura

Kerið Crater Lake

This eye-popping Icelandic crater lake is surrounded by red volcanic rock. 


In Iceland, you can’t just have a stunning lake. No, it also has to be inside of a volcanic caldera. And sometimes that’s not even enough, so the showiest country in the world provides something like Kerið Crater Lake, which is a nearly neon blue lake sitting in a volcano surrounded by rare red volcanic rock.

Located in southern Iceland along the so-called Golden Circle, Kerið is unique among crater lakes in that its caldera likely didn’t form from an explosion as most do. The Kerið volcano is thought to have formed when the magma in the center simply depleted itself, and the empty chamber beneath caved in. Regardless of the geological minutia that led to the lake’s creation, its bright rainbow of colors look unearthly.

In addition to the bright, sapphire-colored waters, the steep slopes of the caldera’s bowl are almost entirely covered in red volcanic rock. There is one, less-steep side of the slope that is covered in rich green moss, as though the lake weren’t colorful enough.

During winter, however, Kerið transforms from a vibrant place to a hotspot of Icelandic desolation and starkness. In truth, it’s no less beautiful or impressive in winter, just different.

The lake itself freezes over and becomes a giant ice rink for the most adventurous tourists. The rest of the crater, like the surrounding landscape, is caked in ice and snow. Though bleak, it’s perhaps easier to feel the vastness and raw power of the natural forces that govern Iceland.

The lake can be visited along with tours of the Golden Circle, just try not to lose yourself in its beautiful blue eye.

Know Before You Go

In the southern part of the Golden Circle, the crater is located 15 km north of Selfoss, right off Highway 35. It costs 450 kronurs to enter and walk around the rim. You will get an informational brochure.  The parking lot is small and often fills up and there are no facilities available.

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