The Icelandic Ring-Road is approximately 1.350 km long and follows the coast around the island. The Ring-Road is generally paved and has one lane in each direction. Most mountain roads and highland roads in the interior of Iceland have a gravel surface. The surface on the gravel roads is often loose, especially along the sides of the roads, so one should drive carefully and slow down whenever approaching oncoming cars. The mountain roads are also often very narrow and can be very windy. Many rivers are unbridged, and those that are bridged are often only wide enough for one car at a time. Journeys may therefore take longer than expected. Mountain and highland roads are marked with a “F” before the road number – most of these roads are for jeeps only.
The Icelandic Road and Costal Administration is responsible for about 13.000 kilometers of main and countryside roads. Their web is available in english at http://www.road.is/ and there you can catch up on some important information like road & weather conditions in writing, picture format or via web cams. There is a rather convenient map on their web showing the current road conditions, it is color coded with explanations in writing below. See link: Current Road Condition in Iceland. Their website is updated frequently throughout the day and it is important for you and your travel plans to monitor it on daily basis. By checking in every morning and even few times through out the day you can avoid driving into difficult situations or even driving on closed roads that can leave you stranded for a while.
Highland roads "F-Roads" are open only during the summertime. They usually open in the beginning of June, but actual opening date is dependent on weather and other circumstances permitting. Mud and snow can make the roads completely impassible. When these roads are opened for traffic they can only be negotiated by 4x4 vehicles. Please make sure that your rental car qualifies for such use. For some mountain tracks it is strongly advised that two or more cars travel together. In case you are traveling alone the camping sites and tourist information’s are usually ideal locations to meet others and group up before starting the adventure. Always bring detailed maps and it is recommended to rent a GPS with your rental car. GPS devices with maps of Europe or North America do generally not contain detailed maps of Iceland. The GPS´s for rent at CheapJeep Car Rental all come with detailed maps of the Icelandic highlands. Information about opening dates can be obtained by calling 1777 or at www.road.is
Driving outside marked trails is prohibited and is subject to nature conservation law.
Crossing rivers should be attempted only in fourwheel-drive (4x4) vehicles, such as jeeps. Ensure that the four-wheel drive has been engaged before attempting the crossing. Maintain a slow but steady pace in first gear and use the low range (engage reduction gearbox) if available. Keep in mind that fords through glacial rivers keep changing. On warm summer days, the flow increases as the day progresses. Heavy rainfall often causes rivers water level to rise, sometimes making them uncrossable even for large and modified vehicles. Glacial rivers usually have less water in the mornings.
Underestimating the water volume in rivers has causes fatalities in the past. Before attempting to cross a glacial river, it is necessary to examine its velocity, depth and bottom by wading into it. If the water level exceeds the diameter of the wheel, if you feel that your legs are flushed away under you or large rocks covers the bottom – do not attempt to cross at this location. If you find that you would be unwilling to wade across the river on foot, you should not attempt to drive across it. Seek advice from experienced drivers and watch how and where they cross. NEVER EVER DRIVE INTO WATER DEEPER THAN THE RADIUS OF THE WHEEL and ALWAYS keep the engine running even if stuck!!
There is only one petrol station in the highlands (at Hveravellir) that sells petrol and diesel. Keep this in mind when driving in the highlands and bring jerry-cans if you plan long drives in the highlands. It is important to know the vehicle’s insurance coverage before going on a trip in the highlands. For example, rented vehicles are not insured for damage that occurs while crossing rivers or lakes, and the chassis is not insured. Also, you need extra insurance for travelling in the highlands.
Accommodation is limited in the highlands and often booked months in advance. You need to make reservations with sufficient notice if you don’t want to sleep in the vehicle or in a tent.
Most major tourist centers in the highlands are operated by Rangers. Their job is to provide information and assist travelers. Travelers should obey rangers’ instructions at all times.