Gullfoss or Golden Falls is a waterfall located in the canyon of Hvita river in southwest Iceland. Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. With a 105-foot double-cascade, Gullfoss is by far Europes most powerful waterfall. The wide Hvita river, about a kilometer above the falls turns sharply to the left and flows down into a wide curved three-step staircase and then abruptly plunges in two stages 11 m and 21 m into a crevice 32 meter deep. The crevice, about 20 meter wide, and 2.5 km in length, is at right angles to the flow of the river. As one first approaches the falls, the crevice is obscured from view, so that it appears that a mighty river simply vanishes into the earth. Mist wafts up from the lower tier due to the quantity of falling water.
Rainbows often crown the majestic sight of the Hvita River diving in the Gullfoss falls. The area is blessed with lush vegetation beginning from lichens on rocks to small blueberry shrubs, and ending in wooly willows as its finale. There are numerous guided tourist trips offered by the locals. The falls was originally planned to supply electric power by turning it into a hydroelectric plant as the Gullfoss falls was found out to have the capability to produce massive amount of electricity. It is believed that because of the devoted pilgrimage of a farmers daughter named Sigrur Tmasdottir in order to preserve the natural beauty of the falls, the plan was surprisingly stopped. Instead of a power plant, a nature reserve was built. A monument of this brave woman was erected in the area in 1978. The sight of the overwhelming falls, the sound of the gushing water, the scent of the variety of wild plants around the area, and the stories told of its mysterious past makes it worthwhile to visit this place and be awed by its beauty.
It's hard to believe that this waterfall almost disappeared due to the desire for hydroelectricity by various interests. Because of lack of funds, attempts were unsuccessful and the falls was eventually sold to the state of Iceland. Despite further interest to utilize the river by the state, it was eventually conserved.