Skaftafell National Park Facts

Skaftafell National Park Facts
Skaftafell National Park was a 4,807 square kilometer park located in southern Iceland. It was originally a manor farm, and was established as a national park in 1967 in an effort to preserve the flora and fauna of the region. In 2008 Skaftafell National Park and Jökulsárgljúfur National Park were combined into Vatnajökull National Park. Since then the park has expanded to a size of 13,920 square kilometers. Skaftafell National Park was Iceland's second largest national park before being absorbed into Vatnajökull National Park. The climate at Skaftafell is uncommon for Iceland, as it tends to be sunny in the summer months and warmer than much of the country.
Interesting Skaftafell National Park Facts:
The region that encompasses Skaftafell National Park was at one time dotted with several farms. In the Middle Ages volcanic eruptions resulting in the farmers abandoning their land.
In 1362 a volcano wiped out the region and it was given the name 'Öræfi', which means 'wasteland'.
There are only two farms remaining in Skaftafell National Park's land, making their income from tourism. Farming ended as a means to make money in 1988 when ash and sand from the frequent volcanic eruptions made the land unmanageable.
When volcanic eruptions occur floods also cover the land, changing the soil and creating wasteland in many cases.
Despite Iceland's cold climate the temperature at Skaftafell National Park is mild enough that birch trees and rowans (shrubs that produce fruit) are able to grow.
Flowering plants that can be found growing at Skaftafell National Park include pyramidal saxifrage, yellow saxifrage, and harebell.
At one time the land at Skaftafell National Park was used for grazing sheep but since this practice stopped there is an abundance of vegetation emerging. This vegetation includes wild angelica, sea pea, arctic river beauty, garden angelica, and willow.
Birds that are found in the forests and slopes of Skaftafell National Park include the wren, redwing, redpoll, snipe, meadow pipit, golden plover, raven, merlin, snow bunting, and wheatear.
The only wild animals found in Skaftafell National Park include the field mouse, mink, and the Arctic fox.
Despite Iceland's climate, there is a large diverse population of insects in Skaftafell National Park.
There is a visitor center in Skaftafell National Park that now serves as the visitor center for Vatnajökull National Park. Visitors can find information about the history of the park, the natural landscape, the trails available for hiking and exploring, and where to camp if they wish to pitch a tent.
The landscape of Skaftafell National Park includes jagged mountains, glacier peaked mountain tops, rivers, lowlands, treed areas, and waterfalls.
One of the most popular attractions in Skaftafell National Park is Svartifoss (Black Fall) waterfall. This 20 meter high waterfall is flanked by basalt column walls, for which the waterfall is named.
Visitors to Skaftafell National Park can enjoy guided glacier hikes that take them onto glaciers through the park.
Vatnajökull National Park, which includes the former Skaftafell National Park, is the second largest national park in Europe. The first is Russia's Yugyd Va.

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