The Stóragjá Cave is actually a rift or fissure in the landscape just outside the tiny village of Reykjahlið on the shores of Lake Myvatn. There is a lot of conflicting information about this cave. So what’s the true story? We visited to find out.
First, the Stóragjá Cave is located about 1 ½ kilometers (a little less than a mile) from the much more famous Grjótagjá cave (the “love cave” from Game of Thrones), which is a major landmark in the country.
Stóragjá and Grjótagjá share many of the same attributes. They are located in the same rift structure, they are both partially filled with hot water and both have historically allowed bathing. Whereas the water temperature in Grjótagjá has increased and it is no longer safe for bathing (and is prohibited), the water temperature in the Stóragjá geothermal pool has fallen (we found it to be around 30° C/86° F during our visit).
However, the internet is filled with information that bathing is no longer safe or allowed. We found that the information is not totally correct, however, the story is a bit more complicated.
Visiting the Stóragjá lava cave means experiencing one of these caves filled with geothermal water, but with far fewer people than its famous neighbor. Here’s a few things to know:
At Stóragjá, there are about 4 or 5 places to park along the side of the Ring Road. Use the GPS coordinates 65.639844, -16.909571 to find the parking spot and the trailhead. It’s about 50 feet from the intersection of Route 1 and Route 848.
Head south from the trailhead for about 100 feet/30 meters until the trail forks (there is a sign pointing in the direction of the cave). Follow the right fork of the trail for another 125 yards/114 meters. Descend down the two sets of metal stairs.
Go south another 25 feet and look for the rope or chain to get down into the cave (GPS coordinates 65.638078, -16.910268) on your left. Use the rope to lower yourself down. It’s best to descend backwards. You may also find that water shoes with traction are very useful.
If you go another 20 feet, there is a steel ladder that is tied into place that you can use to climb up or down into the cave (the ladder is almost hidden behind a giant rock on the left, so look around until you find it). Watch your head!
The warm water in the cave is largely stagnant. New water comes from rain and the underground spring, but there’s not a lot of turnover, which leads to some potential problems.
In recent years, the Storagja Cave has taken on a beautiful bluish color, which is due to algae in the water. Some believe the algae to be dangerous (Internet sources vary on the extent of the threat).
Also, there have been high amounts of E.coli bacteria in the water due to people bathing (and is likely due to unhygienic practices). Officially, bathing in Stóragjá is allowed, although the practice is discouraged, but you will see people doing it.
Please respect this special place and be a good visitor. Share the space with others and pack out all of your trash. If you need to use the toilet, please don’t do it anywhere near the cave (the N1 gas station has a toilet and it is very close).