The incredible red hills of Heiðmörk nature reserve

The strange red hills of Rauðhólar in the Heiðmörk nature reserve were formed when steam collected beneath lava and exploded some 5.700 years ago says geologist Páll Einarsson at the University of Iceland. 

Heiðmörk is situated on the south-east outskirts of Reykjavík city and it's a wonderful recreational area with many trails leading through a vast expanse of bushy vegetation and lava formations. Some of the park's most notable features are the Rauðhólar or ‘Red Hills’ – the remnants of a cluster of pseudocraters in Elliðaárhraun lava field. Heiðmörk is a favourite with the locals, especially for sports enthusiasts, those with children and couples looking for a romantic retreat!

Heiðmörk became a conservation area in 1950 and derives its title from its namesake in Norway. The district forestry service manages the area, including its 18-mile long gravel road network and the Rauðhólar nature reserve.

More than four million trees have been planted there since 1950 and the already existing vegetation has thrived since the area was fenced off. The most prominent of the 26 species of trees planted is the Sitka spruce. Those fascinated by the more feathery residents of Reykjavík will be pleased to discover that 30 species of breeding birds are frequently spotted in the area.

Heiðmörk is located about 18 km from the city centre of Reykjavík. 

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