Snæfellsjökull is a stratovolcano with a glacier (Icelandic: jökull) covering its summit in western Iceland. The name of the mountain is actually Snæfell, but it is normally called "Snæfellsjökull" to discern it from two other mountains with this name. It is situated on the most western part of the Snæfellsnes peninsula in Iceland.
The Snæfellsjökull glacier is 1446m (4745 ft) above sea level. It was first climbed in 1754. The mountain is an active volcano, having been built up through numerous eruptions during the last 800,000 years. The summit
crater is 200m (650 ft) deep, and full of ice. The latest eruption was very large and took place around 1800 years ago.
The mountain has three summits, the central being the highest (a pointy spire). The crater (western summit) is 4 meters lower.
The mountain offers ascents via glaciated terrain with southwest approaches being substantially shorter and easier. Climb through the glacier on the north east side of the volcano looks lot more involved with big crevasses, steeper terrain below the summit and longer approach.
The Snaefellsjokull National Park boundaries follow the eastern border of the Gufuskalar estate on the northern part of the peninsula, a line east of the glacier and along the eastern edge of the Haahraun lava field to the Gjafavik cove in the south. The Snaefellsjokull area extends from Mt. Maelifell in the east and the headland Ondverdarnes in the west.
National Road 574, Útnesvegur, follows a course through the National Park and can be used as a northern or southern approach. Dirt road number 54 runs on the west side of the mountain and with careful driving is passable in a 2WD passenger car (July 2009). The road may me closed due to through traffic due to snow well into summer. Inquire about current conditions in the visitor center in Hellnar.
Snæfellsjökull (Snæfell Glacier) National Park was established on June 28, 2001. No permits are necessary for climbing or hiking in the park during the day or overnight.
There is a small visitor center in Hellnar that is open daily from 10am-6pm from May 20th until September 10th.
Camping, food and gas
There are no campsites in the National Park but there are many in the vicinity as well as a selection of accommodations and restaurants to suit all tastes. Ólafsvík, Lýsuhóll, Grundarfjörður and Stykkishólmur all have heated public swimming pools. The nearest grocery stores are in Hellisandur, Rif, Ólafsvík and Vegamót. There are petrol stations at most of these locations, as well as at Arnarstapi.
The glacier has been a never-ending source of inspiration for poets and artists from around the world. Indeed, more than a few people say they feel a powerful influence from the glacier and consider it to be one of the
world's seven most potent energy sources.
The mountain is one of the most famous sites of Iceland, primarily due to the novel A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) by Jules Verne, in which the protagonists find the entrance to a passage leading to the center of the earth on Snæfellsjökull.