See a map of the area in 3-D.

The Skútustaðagígar (direct translation: Sailboat place craters) were placed under protection in 1973 due to their unique and fragile geological remnants. The area also comes under the Lake Mývatn and Laxá Protection Act. The objective of the protection is to preserve the craters as they are and make them accessible as well as safeguarding the rights of use of the landowners. Nature reserves are natural phenomena that are important to safeguard for their educational value, their beauty and unique characteristics.

Skútustaðagígar is a common name for an area containing a wide variety of artificial craters and grassy meadows. The artificial craters are thought to have been created 2,300 years ago. These are rare lava formations that come from steam explosions where thinly flowing lava runs over lakes or wetlands. As the glowing lava runs over wetlands, it creates steam explosions where powerful steam comes through to the surface under rising pressure. After the explosion, a crater-like cone is left that today is named an artificial crater. Such craters are widely found in Iceland and Hawaii.

There is rich bird life in the area, and its proximity to Lake Mývatn and Stakhólstjörn makes this an interesting area for birdwatchers, particularly in the spring during the height of the bird-mating season. Among the species that can be seen in the vicinity of Skútustaðagígar are the common loon, horned grebe, tufted duck, scaup, mallard, wigeon, gadwall, red shank, red-necked phalarope and the common tern.

The area is a popular destination for tourists and is of great educational and outdoor value.

The nature preserve is close to 70 hectares in size.

For guests – Travelling in the area  -  Useful information   -  Points of interest 

Skútustaðagígar are south of Lake Mývatn. From Reykjahlíð  go south on road no. 848 for about 15 km. From road 1 turn across a bridge over Laxá and go east on road 848 for about 5 km.

There are two easy footpaths marked for Skútustaðagígar:

  • Gígahringur (Crater ring), 1.5 km.
  • Tjarnarhringur (Pond ring), 3.5 km. 

The Gígahringur is staked during winter. Guests should observe instructions at the site and not stray off the marked path.

Service on the site:

  • There is a hotel, restaurants, souvenir shops and rest rooms nearby.
  • Restrooms are reserved for the customers of service providers on location.
  • There are park rangers on the site.


  • Disturbing or otherwise damaging geological formations in the nature preserve is prohibited, as well as wilfully disturbing vegetation or animals.
  • Staying overnight in the area is not permitted.
  • Stay on the marked footpaths and observe the instructions of park rangers and staff.
  • Hunting with guns is prohibited.
  • Taking of slag and erecting structures is strictly prohibited.

Administration – operations

Skútustaðagígar were placed under protection in 1973 with Notice no. 399/1973 in the B section of the Government Gazette. The Environment Agency supervises the area and employs park rangers who also supervise the Lake Mývatn protected area as well as other protected areas in the Lake Mývatn region.

Skútustaðagígar are registered on the orange list of the Environment Agency, the list of endangered areas.

Map of area