The Pseudocraters at Skutustadagigar of Lake Myvatn are one of my favorite geological features in Iceland. Let me explain why the Skutustadir craters are not 'real ones' and give you some tips to plan your walk around the pond and on some of them.
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About Skutustadir Iceland - the Lake Myvatn Pseudocraters
Skútustadagígar is the area South of Lake Myvatn around the pond Stakholstjorn where the famous pseudocraters can be found (see next section to understand why they are not real craters). The Skutustadir Farm is named after an ancient hero called Viga-Skuta and allows us to get up close and climb some of those beautifully shaped pseudocraters.
PLANNING TIPS - Skútustadagígar pseudocraters Iceland
How to get to Skutustadir
- Lake Myvatn is in the North part of Iceland along Road 1, over 1 hour drive from Akureyri
- The Skútustadagígar Pseudocraters' walking path is on the South section of Lake Myvatn
The pseudo-craters are included in both travel guides that I wrote to help you plan your road trip around Iceland and make the most of your time:
Visiting Skútustadagígar pseudo-craters Myvatn
- Large carpark, and across the road is a cafe, a station and toilets as well as a hotel/restaurant
- The easy walk around the pond can be done in 1 hour (see map below). Some pseudocraters can be climbed, others are protected and cannot be approached
- I think the beginning of the hike has the best views on the West side
- I recommend the use of a fly net in summer. The area is famous for those annoying bugs especially so close to the water. I had some in September but it was bearable.
- And Check out my complete article with detailed suggestions and tips on what to wear and pack for Iceland to stay warm and comfortable
Accommodation in Myvatn
Not far is the Dimmuborgir Guesthouse, one of my favorite places to stay in Iceland (I booked myself and paid entirely for my stay). Right next to the lake and with the Hverfjall crater in the background... perfect! Check out photos and book
Skutustadir Walk Map
Below is the map of the path that takes you all the way around the Stakholstjörn pond to see most of the pseudocraters:
Need to rent a car for your road trip in Iceland?
- You can choose from some great local companies - Iceland has a lot of specificities and their offerings are adapted - you can compare cars and prices of quality local brands on this expert Icelandic website
- Otherwise you can compare offers from international companies on RentalCars.com
- Book early to have a large choice of vehicles!
Walking up the first Myvatn pseudocrater at Skutustagigar
I started the walk around the pseudocraters early morning I was lucky that the wind was down and got rewarded with beautiful reflections.
The first crater you encounter can be circled. See the people below, it gives you an idea of the size of the pseudocrater:
From the top of 2 pseudocraters, you get nice views of the area and sometimes the company of sheep.
The geology behind the Skutustadir craters
Here is the information I found at the Myvatn visitor center where they have very nice displays:
“The planet Mars has recently been found to harbor a large groups of craters that seem to have formed by steam explosions as glowing hot lava flowed over frozen ground. Such “pseudocraters” from on Earth as lava runs over wet sediment or into the sea. Most of Earth’s pseudocraters are in Iceland and they are rare elsewhere. Scientific interest in them has increased after the Mars discovery. The pseudocrater by lake Myvatn are amongst the largest and most beautifully shaped on Earth.
The Myvatn pseudocraters were formed as lava entered a large lake (a precursor of Lake Myvatn), trapping its wet sediment underneath. First, many eruptions take place and a platform of fine-grained material is built up. Later, a few eruption vents take over, the water supply diminishes, and well-shaped crater cones develop on top of the platform. The molten lava moves like a thin sheet inside a stationary crust. The lower crust breaks and the hot lava makes contact with the water-logged sediment underneath triggering violent steam eruptions. The lava continues to flow inside the crust envelope and feeds the steam eruptions.
Now the craters are covered by grass because midges fertilize the soil when they die.”
Walking along the Stakholstjorn pond and the shores of Lake Myvatn
After that I walked down and continued on the path along the pond. Apart from the flies this is a very enjoyable walk. However, the first part had the best views as you can see in the pictures.
Note: If you don't want to book everything yourself, consider booking a Self-Drive Tour Package (see my article to help you choose)
The first pseudo-craters of Myvatn remain accessible in Winter.
You cannot do the whole loop. But the path and staircases to get on top of the first ones are easy to walk.
The view is just very different: the pond is covered in snow and the landscape is all black and white.
See my article about Myvatn in Winter
Want to see more of Iceland's beauty?
What do you think of those prefect shapes?