Vatnajokull National Park is Europe’s larges National Park after merging of two existing National Parks, and some nature reserves in June 2007. The park spreads from north to south across the whole island, covering over 12.000 square kilometes of Iceland´s astonishing highland area.
This park was established in 1973. Its area covers 150 km² and a 35 km long stretch along the western side of the glacial river Jokulsa. The northernmost part, Asbyrgi, was incorporated in 1978. The river canyons are about 25 km long and resemble the Grand Canyons in Arizona.
The second national park, Skaftafell., established in 1967 (400-500 square kilometres), contains some of the most precious natural pearls of the country. The rugged landscapes, mountains and glaciers, the flora and the fauna have a magnetic influence on the visitors.
In 1984, it was increased in area (1736 square kilometres) including a considerable part of Glacier Vatnajokull. In November 2004 the area of the park was still increased to 4,807 square kilometres. It now comprises the Laki Area as well as about half of Euorpe’s largest icecap, Vatnajokull.
There are no roads in the park, but a network of trails offers the opportunity for differently extended hikes. The camping grounds are large but it is difficult to hammer the tent pegs into the gravel surface. Among the services rendered in the park are toilets, washing machines, a restaurant, a small shop and a very interesting Visitors Centre. The park wardens offer regular guided walking tours and daily bus tours tours from the park to the volcanic Laki area and Jokulsarlon as well as the daily schedule. A comprehensive brochure with maps and hiking trails is available at the Visitors’ Centre. The distance from the capital is about 340 km.