Really Cold, Windy and Dreary at Saxhóll Crater in Iceland

The morning was cold and dreary as I was driving that morning on the road along the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland on my way to Saxhóll Crater; and the weather was in sharp contrast to the warm sunny day while I was visiting the Golden Circle.

Really Cold, Windy and Dreary at Saxhóll Crater in Iceland

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Nevertheless, I arrived at the Saxhóll Crater — which is located in Snæfellsjökull National Park — and the clouds were so low that they seemed to want to touch the ground below while obscuring the top of the crater.

I parked the car in the parking area — in which only one other car was parked — and I looked at the stairs with which to access the top of the crater. The staircase was not only built for easier access for visitors; but also to protect the face of the crater from further damage due to a significant increase in tourists.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

The air was already bone chilling, but it was not freezing as evidenced by the occasional misty rain — until I rounded the crater as I ascended the 396 steps on the red staircase and was practically assaulted with what felt like hurricane-force winds…

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

…and no, that was not an exaggeration. I struggled to stand straight — and so did any other visitors who arrived after I did — and those were the sustained winds and not the gusts, which were even more powerful.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Other than the staircase, the places to walk on the crater — and, I suppose, into the crater, if you are so inclined — were just simply the rim and parts of the rock and soil which were naturally worn away.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Speaking of the soil, climbers to the top of the crater are treated to a view of how that crater altered the landscape around it each time it erupted and spewed lava.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Other than the Atlantic Ocean itself — which, unfortunately, was obscured from the view due to low stratus clouds and patches of dense fog — dried Neshraun lava fields as far as the eye can see are what awaits visitors at the top of the crater.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

You can also view other natural formations — such as Eldborg crater, which is also part of Saxhóll. You can even visit Eldborg Crater and explore it — if you do not mind hiking 2.5 hours to get to it and have the time to do so…

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

…and keep in mind that Eldborg Crater — which is east of Saxhóll Crater — does not have a staircase.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

A round flat metal sundial on a short metal pole is found at the summit of Saxhóll Crater…

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

…and engraved into it are which directions select landmarks and cities in Iceland are located.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

The staircase to reach the summit was fairly easy to negotiate — almost anyone should have no problem using it — other than struggling against the strong winds.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Keflavik may be a familiar name; but it is not referring to the city near the international airport.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

The plaque is confirmation that one is indeed at Saxhóll Crater on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

One can see other craters and natural formations from the top of Saxhóll Crater.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

The Snæfellsjökull Glacier can be viewed off in the distance — it was the setting for the book Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne — but it was partially obscured by those pesky low clouds. I can only imagine what the view must be on a sunny — and warmer — day.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

The last time Saxhóll Crater erupted was reportedly approximately 3,000 years ago.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

The collapsed crater is fairly deep; but despite a sign which specifically instructs visitors to stay on the footpaths, they do walk down into it in addition to walking around the rim of the crater.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

I did not step down into the crater out of respect — but I did continue to partake in the views, limited as they were.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

That I had brought appropriate outwear to protect me from the blustery winds was definitely a good thing.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

One visitor found himself negotiating with the strong winds once he reached the summit, which is approximately 109 meters — or almost 358 feet — in altitude.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

From the staircase, one can face southeast and view the driveway from the parking lot to highway 574, which is also known as Útnesvegur — and a rest stop with a bench is provided at the halfway point of the staircase.

Saxhóll Crater Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Summary

Saxhóll Crater is located in Snæfellsjökull National Park off of highway 574 — which is also known as Útnesvegur — on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula approximately 216 kilometers northwest of the city center of Reykjavík. Driving time is approximately two hours and 46 minutes each way.

There are no facilities and no admission or parking fees to enjoy Saxhóll Crater; so you can stay as long as you like, as it is technically open 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Give yourself a minimum of 30 minutes to enjoy the natural beauty of Saxhóll Crater — but be sure to include between five and ten minutes to ascend or descend the crater via the red staircase.

All photographs ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

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