Iceland’s Ring Road

The Ring Road of Iceland is one of the world’s great road trips. (Bob Sessions photo)

The Ring Road of Iceland is one of the world’s great road trips. (Bob Sessions photo)

There are times when we English majors simply have to concede that images trump words.

Today is one of those times, for I honestly don’t know how I can adequately convey the beauty and grandeur of Iceland’s Ring Road. Bob and I spent eight days driving this 830-mile route that winds along the coastline of the main island of Iceland. When we started, we kept comparing the landscape to other places we had seen, from Scotland and New Zealand to Wyoming. But gradually we fell silent, for the ever-changing vistas proved themselves to be incomparable.

I know of no other country like Iceland. It holds mountains, waterfalls, high deserts, rich pastures, and tiny villages tucked under the looming shadow of glacier-topped peaks. One valley would be lush and green, and the next as bleak as the surface of the moon. Other than one 15-minute nap, I don’t think I missed a single section of the entire trip, for I was mesmerized by what was unfolding. Each night I dreamed of what we had seen that day, the images and colors gliding one into the next with wraith-like fluidity.

We did other memorable things that week—hikes up steep mountain canyons, meals of fish soup served in tiny cafes overlooking the sea, soaks in outdoor hot tubs with a cold rain needling our faces, and nights when we marveled at the northern lights dancing across the sky. But when I look back, what I remember most is that endless ribbon of highway, beckoning us ever onward, teasing us with the prospect of yet one more radiant expanse of sea, sky and earth.

So I wave the white flag and give up trying to describe it. Instead, here’s a small sampling of what we saw (with thanks to Bob Sessions for the images and Kevin MacLeod for his tune “Long Road Ahead”).

Visit Iceland can help you plan your own trip on the Ring Road.

Return to An Icelandic Pilgrimage