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Photos: Walking paths at Víti crater lake turned into mudfields: 'Worst I have seen'

By Staff

  • A giant mudfield Víti crater lake in the Mývatn lake region is one of the most beautiful crater lakes in Iceland. The walking paths are probably the least picturesque, however. Photo/Davíð Arnar Stefánsson.

  • The path from the parking lot Many visitors seem to prefer to trample down the vegetation, rather than stay on the path. Photo/Davíð Arnar Stefánsson

  • The Parking lot Inadequate parking and a muddy parking lot has led to visitors parking on the mossy grounds along the road leading to Víti. Photo/Davíð Arnar Stefánsson

  • Trash Plastic bags and other rubbish can be found trampled into the mud. Photo/Davíð Arnar Stefánsson

The parking lot as well as walking paths at the picturesque crater lake Víti in Mývatn region in North Iceland are in a state of serious deterioration and disrepair. The entire area has been turned into a giant mudfield by the combination of rain and growing numbers of visitors. An employee of the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland told the National Broadcasting Service RÚV the conditions at Víti was the worst he had encountered.

A giant mudfield
Davíð Arnar Stefánsson, an employee of the SCSI said the conditions at Víti had been deteriorating rapidly in the past few months. He said the problem was clearly a combination of inadequate facilities and visitors driving and parking outside the designated parking lot and walking outside the roped walking paths. 

"There is a parking lot, which appears to be too small. People seem to be driving their cars just all over the area. And the parking lot is just one giant mudfield, in the middle of all this delicate vegetation." 

The CSIS is currently assessing conditions of walking paths at tourist sites around Iceland. Davíð told RÚV the conditions at Víti are the worst he has seen during this assessment. "It's the worst I have seen for months, and I have heard from people who have been monitoring the site that it has been deteriorating very rapidly in the past few months."

Read more: Walking paths at a once "hidden" waterfall on Golden Circle can't handle traffic after its discovery

Davíð argued that the soil and vegetation at Víti can't withstand the kind of traffic the site has been seeing. "The walking paths, along the crater are in a terrible state and all trampled down. The clay-like soil just can't take level of foot traffic which comes with the growing numbers of visitors." Instead of taking a stone walkway from the parking lot to the crater many visitors have opted for the moss and grass alongside the path, leaving a path of trampled down mud.

Stay on the path, even if it's muddy!
The root of the problems at Víti is that the site, which was only visited by a few thousand people each year, is now seeing tens of thousands of visitors annually. The parking lot and walking paths were not built to accommodate the large crowds. Previously the visitors were also concentrated during the summer months, when the vegetation at the site is more robust. Now the site is seeing large crowds during the wet spring and fall seasons, when the vegetation is more vulnerable. 

We at Iceland Magazine would like to urge people to always stay on designated walking paths and never drive off-road. Icelandic summers are short and cold, and Icelandic flora is extremely delicate and fragile. Stay on the path, even if it is muddy: Vegetation trampled down during one wet afternoon can take years or decades to recover, it only takes you a moment to clean your shoes. 


Spectacular Víti crater lake is one of the most pictoresque in Iceland. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

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