Driving Highland Road F26, Sprengisandsleið in Iceland

Rúnar Þór Sigurbjörnsson

(Updated: )
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Driving Highland Road F26, Sprengisandsleið in Iceland

Sprengisandur is a vast stretch of sand in the Icelandic highlands, with the road F26, also known as Sprengisandsleið, running right through it. F26 is a 200 KM(124 miles) long gravel road that extends between the Hofsjökull and Vatnajökull glaciers.


Official Name: F26

Known As: Sprengisandsleið

Opening Dates:

  • Hrauneyjar -> Nýidalur: 15th June (Earliest) or 10th July (Latest).
  • Nýidalur -> Bárðardalur: 3rd July (Earliest) or 13th July (Latest).

Rivers: Several unbridged rivers with water as deep as 1 meter approx. Attempting to cross with more than 1 car is recommended.

Fuel Stations: Extremely limited. It is not recommended to drive with anything less than a full tank. Gas stations are located at the beginning and end of Sprengisandsleið, at Goðafoss and Hrauneyjar. Note: These stations are 240km apart.

About the Area

Sprengisandsleið is an old highland road that once served as the main connection between the northern settlements and the Althingi parliament in Þingvellir. The way was believed to be haunted by all manner of ghosts and supernatural beings, and so riders often exhausted themselves and their horses, jetting forward through the mountains, never stopping for rest.

This is where the name of the road comes from. "Að sprengja" translates to "to exhaust", and so the way came to be known as Sprengisandsleið, or Exhausting Sands Way.

Recommended Vehicles:

Larger 4X4 vehicles to be able to cross rivers on the way.