Waterfalls are beautiful and unique. Some of them are even more photogenic with the perfect sunlight or need a heavy rainfall to unfold its beauty.
Skógafoss! An astonishing waterfall in Iceland. Read on and learn about the best time to visit, how to avoid the crowds and more must-know tips.
Skókafoss is an excellent year-round destination. However, the best time to visit depends on what you’re looking for. Less crowds and cooler conditions or pleasant temperatures with the downside of a packed and crowded place? Read our season overview:
Winter / Early Spring (November - April)
Although winter conditions can already occur in October, it’s usually November/December when heavier rain, strong winds, more fog and especially snowfall and ice are coming to Iceland’s south coast. It’s getting colder in winter months but not as cold as many visitors think. Average high temperature during the coldest months (December, January, February, March) is 3°C / 37°F. Be careful at the base of the falls, as it’s often covered with ice between November and April. Also keep in mind that days are short in winter. Between mid-November and the end of January there are only 4-6 hours of daylight on average. That’s important to know in case you want to photograph the waterfall: Sunset - Sunrise Reykjavik The great advantage in winter: It’s definitely less crowded. However, even in winter it can be a little busier at popular Skogafoss sometimes.
Late Spring / Summer / Early Fall (May - October)
The pleasant temperatures start in late May. On a warm summer in July or August day temperatures can even climb up to 20°C at times. Average daily sunshine in July/August is 5-6 hours. The perfect months terms of mild temperatures months are June, July and August. Great shoulder months for a visit without the harsher winter conditions as well less crowds and cheaper rates are May and September/October. July and August are the months when it gets very crowded with the highest rates for hotels and flights.
Avoiding the Crowds
Due to its popularity it’s usually very busy at Skógafoss, even more so in peak summer months. Tour busses, many cars, people to the falls and back from the parking lot. However, while some complain about the crowds, other visitors say it doesn’t feel too crowded, even during high season.There is definitely plenty of free parking, which means you don’t have to worry about getting a parking lot, even in July or August. Also the climb to the top is not too crowded since a good portion of the visitors stay at the base area. On the other hand, it’s a different experience to enjoy such a stunning waterfall with less people in general. The well-known way to dodge the crowds is visiting in the cooler months with less daylight. Although less crowded, you won’t experience real solitude at Skógafoss in winter, it’s just too popular. Thus, two other great options to avoid tourist crowds are:
- Visit Early/Late: Usually it’s a great idea to get to the famous waterfalls in Iceland very early to avoid the crowds. The reason: Most visitors and especially the tour busses usually don’t arrive before 10 a.m. However, at Skógafoss the early mornings can be busy in summer with campers due to the very close campground. Visiting later in the day? In general, after 5 p.m. crowds start to dissipate. Some even visit at night for real solitude. Tip: We wouldn’t drive directly from a hotel in Reykjavik. Rather check hotels close by (Skogar Hotels). They are pricier than in Reykjavik but it's worth it to stay closer. Then you can visit this waterfall twice: During daytime/morning and then later or even at night. That way you dodge the crowds enjoy walking around, take photos during different light conditions. Trust us, it’s 100% worth it! After your second visit or on the next morning you can continue to Seljalandsfoss and still have plenty of time. As recommend: It’s not a good idea to visit both waterfalls on one day starting from Reykjavik and returning there.
- Climb to the Top / Walk Along the Path: Even if you visit in peak season and the base area is packed: Climb the 400 stairs and then walk the path along the river. Many visitors stay at the base area, some walk to the top and only very few continue walking the path along the river. Check the details about this great path in the text below (How to Visit)
Weather and Climate
The south coast and it’s waterfalls experience cold winters (around freezing) and mild summer months with temperatures around 11°C (52°F). However, Iceland’s south coast experiences a milder climate in winter than you might think. This is due to the Gulf Stream that flows along the west and south coast, bringing pleasant air from the Caribbean. The summers are short with only 3 months where temperatures are considered warm. Regardless of the season: Weather in Iceland can change very quick. Always be prepared and pack an extra sweater as well as rain gear. Please note, that the temperature chart below shows the average high temps from a weather station (Stórhöfði) which is located 40 km from Skogafoss and on a small island. Degrees can vary at the waterfall.
Make your Iguazu visit unforgettable! The insights we compiled from our own visits and from speaking with locals, you’ll find nowhere else.
The best time to visit Iguazu regarding crowds and weather is March, April, except for Eastern, August, September, and November. October is the wettest month. June to September are the driest time with pleasant temps and clearer falls. After heavy rain, the falls appear red-brown from the washed-out soil.
After heavy rainfall, up to 39 million liters of water tumbling over every second in comparison to just 2 million liters during the driest time. However, rain occurs throughout the year. In June 2014, after torrential rainfall was the biggest ever recorded flow. Lots of platforms were closed for safety reasons. The boardwalk on the Brazilian site got destroyed by the high-water level.
Avoiding the Crowds (Worst Time to Visit)
With 1.5 million visitors each year, Iguazu is pretty busy most of the year. Usually, 5 – 6 thousand visitors come here each day. On average, 10 thousand people visit the park daily in the peak season. There are even more visitors during Carnival, Easter and on bank holidays, which are on the same days in Argentina and Brazil. The peak season lasts from late December until the end of February (school holidays in Argentina and Brazil). June and July, the winter break is crowded as well. If possible, go mid-week. Important Tip: The park gets closed with roughly 12 thousand visitors inside. This can happen during the peak season from midday onwards.
Where We Stayed (Our Best Hotel Tips)
Either you stay in Puerto Iguazu like Casa 24 where we spent several nights or the perfectly located Melia Hotel inside the park. This hotel gives you more flexibility to enjoy the beautiful falls. Just keep in mind, that you have to leave the park and falls at 6 pm like all other visitors. The big advantage you are one of the first visitors in the morning. Enjoy the tranquility of the park before thousands of tourists enter the gate.
- There is a Full Moon tour to Devils’s Throat – Garganta Del Diablo offered each month. This is the only chance to watch the Iguazu Falls after closure.
- Several times a day, speedboat tours take place. These tours are pretty popular. It’s highly recommended to book a tour in advance; if you don't want to risk not getting a spot.
Opening Hours / Tickets
The Argentinian side is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but the entrance is already closed after 3 pm. The Brazilian side of the falls opens from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tip: It's often mentioned that you should be at the ticket counter already before 8 a.m. to avoid queuing. We experienced the opposite. Lots of people come early and have to wait while we arrived after 9. It took us just a minute to get the tickets, although it was crowded inside the park.
To take marvelous shots with the perfect sunlight, consider the following order in terms of hiking to the falls:
- Hike to the Lower Falls in the morning
- To the Upper Falls around midday
- To the highlight Devil’s Throat at the end; in the afternoon.
The Iguazu Falls are spectacular with a high flow but more difficult to photograph with lots of spray. If it’s very dry, the falls are clear but less impressive. Your best months for a visit, depending on what you would like to experience. During the summer season, the level is higher, the falls are utterly impressive, but there is immense spray and the falls may be brown-red coloured. During the winter season, from June to September, the falls usually have a lower level and appear clearer. However, it's mother nature and, climate change has an impact as well.
It’s a subtropical and humid climate. The humidity is on average around 80%. There is a high amount of precipitation throughout the year. The annual rainfall is 1.800 mm. The colder “winter” months are usually a little drier than the hot summer months. Nevertheless, exceptions exist like in June 2014 when torrential rainfall occurred. More daylight during the summer; however, the daylight saving time doesn’t exist any longer in Iguazu.
Increasing temps, humidity, and rainfall from October onwards. In general, October is the wettest month of the year. In Oct and Nov night temps are slightly below 20°C/68°F and day temps below 30°C/86°F on average. December to March are the warmest months above 30°C/86°F but can climb up to almost 40°C/104°F. If there was too much rainfall before clouds of mist may spoil your view.
April and May are a little wetter than the months before. June, July and August are the driest time of the year. The day temps in the so-called winter are between 22°C/72°C – 26°C/79°F. Days are more pleasant, and nights are quite cold between 11°C/52°F and 16°C/61°F. Usually, it’s a fantastic time for Iguazu though the flow can be lower and the falls are less impressive, therefore, clearer. Already increasing precipitation in September.
The Colour After Rainfall
The Iguazu Falls are not any longer clear as they were more than 40 years ago. It is rare to experience them in their natural colour. If you like to see these spectacular falls in their originally colour; you should visit them in the drier season. Due to forest clearance, the unprotected soil gets washed-out into the river. The colour of the falls is brown-red very often nowadays, especially in the rainy season. Because of the harmful side effects, fish can’t reproduce; birds and mammals can’t spot their preferred prey. Deforestation has a massive impact on the entire environment.
Several trails are leading to the Alamere Falls. We'd chosen the shortest one. Continue reading to get all necessary information for an awesome hike and waterfall experience. During summer from July to September, the Park is often covered in fog while the inland has sunshine and warm temps.
It is quite a popular park due to the close location to San Francisco. The Alamare Falls are much loved, and the Palomarin car park already fills up early morning at weekends. If possible hike to the falls mid-week. If you can’t get a parking space, you have to queue or leave. Shoulder parking is not permitted.
Best Time to Start the Hike
Mid-week start your hike to the Alamare Falls around two to three hours before low tide depending on the trail you choose. At weekends and in the summer months start early to get a parking lot. Tide times for the hike to the Alamere Falls or check at the Bear Valley Information Center
Tip for Photographers
Best light for a good shot of the falls is after midday.
If you do the hike on a hot summer day bring your bath cloth for swimming in the Pelican Lake, the last on the right on your way back.
Points of Interest Inside the Park
If hiking to the falls try to combine your visit with one of the other attractions depending on the day and month of your visit;
- Point Reyes Lighthouse built in 1870
300 steps leading down to the picturesque lighthouse with a spectacular view if it is not foggy. Unfortunately, only open from Friday to Monday.
- Chimney Rock
The overlook is close to the lighthouse to spot elephant seals while breeding during December to March. Many visitors want to observe the spectacle which causes much traffic and shuttle buses are offered.
- Tule Elk Reserve on Tomales Point
These specific elks were reintroduced in 1978. It’s a more than 9 miles / 15 km hike on the peninsula to Tomales Bluff and back. A shorter option is the 2 miles / 3.2 km hike to Windy Gap and back where you may spot elks at a spring. The Tule Elk Rut Season from around August to late October/beginning of November is a spectacular time.
- Migrating gray whales can be spotted around the lighthouse and Chimney Rock between January to April. Humpback whales migrate past Point Reyes from November to March.
Weather / Climate
Point Reyes has a coastal climate with dry summer and cool winter. Only very view rain occurs from mid-April to October. Most of the precipitation happens from December to March. It’s often windy at Point Reyes, and very strong winds are common in November and December. Fog occurs in summer mostly from July to September. If it’s hot in the backcountry, the fog might stay until the afternoon.
Where to Stay (bookmark the links)
We recommend spending minimum two days in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The park has so much to offer; outstanding nature, wildlife, several hiking trails, and coastline. We'd been here already twice and still haven't seen all of its beauty. Situated inside the park is the HI Point Reyes Hostel. Next to the park in Olema is the quiet and lovely The Lodge of Point Reyes with an excellent restaurant. Probably the best accommodation in this area.
If visiting for hiking start early morning to beat the midday heat during summer. We even spotted a gray fox close to the Lodge although they are nocturnal. Foxes, skunks, and raccoons can be seen during the night. The Pfeiffer Falls are very popular either hike to them in the morning or late afternoon. They were not accessible in 2017 closed due to the powerful storms that flooded the Big Sur Coast with nearly 100 inches / 2540 mm of rain and remain closed. Opening was planned by February 2019 but it looks like they won't be open before mid-June 2019. Check closure
Nearby along the Highwy One are the famous McWay Falls which can be already seen from the road
It’s a moderate cool coastal climate with moist air. The average temperature is between 50 to 65°F year-round. Most of the precipitation occurs from October to April with up to 50 inches/ 1270 mm. Fog happens between May and October usually from the evening until late morning. If it’s hot in the backcountry the fog might stay until the afternoon. It provides moisture for the redwoods along the coast in the dry summer months.
If you like camping under the amazing redwood trees book the tent or RV site in advance at least 3 months before for the summer holidays even 6 months. Within the park are several campgrounds offering 189 tent and RV sites in total for $ 35-50 each night which includes the State Park fee of 10 $ (2019). From mid-June until September are two group campsites available which can accommodate up to 35 people. Reservations can be made six months in advance on the first day of the month. The campground is extremely popular even in the winter due to the mild climate. Click here for campground reservation
Best Accommodations at Big Sur
- There are cozy little cabins and a campground as well just close to the Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground. The Riverside Campground and Cabins offers well equipped cottages with a kitchenette and bathroom and some share the facilities with the campground. It's beautiful located under redwood trees and an excellent alternative if the Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground is already fully booked,
- Our luxury top tip is the Ventana Big Sur - An Alila Resort situated in a breathtaking scenery. The food at the on-site restaurant is incredible. You can really forget about everything except your time. Don't come here in a rush. You will love this cozy place and regret it if you stay here just for one night.
- Excellent located at the park entrance is the Big Sur Lodge. The rooms are heated up with a cozy fireplace. The on-site restaurant offers tasty meals. Start your hike directly from the lodge and afterwards enjoy the outdoor pool during your stay.
In the winter only the short walk to the White Lady Waterfall is opened between 11 a.m. and 3.30 p.m. Devil’s Cauldron and the gorge can get closed by a gate.
In spring and summer, the whole gorge is opened from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Check the opening hours first. The gorge can get flooded and is closed after several days of heavy rain.
The short waterfall trail is very popular and gets crowded during weekends and bank holidays and especially in the pleasant summer months. Also, the gorge trail can get busy. Fewer people hike the trail mid-week and rain keeps the crowds away. Luckily, the hike is arranged in a one-way system clockwise due to the narrow and often slippery path. Start the hike at the waterfall entrance on weekends at 10 a.m. to enjoy the White Lady Waterfall before it gets too crowded.
Throughout spring and summer wildflowers like the bluebell and wood anemone both in May and also wild garlic are in bloom along the trail.
- Often they leave the gate open. This enables you to start the hike early morning before or in the evening in summer after the crowds. There is a donation box to put in the entrance fee.
- We recommend staying in Lydford for one night to hike to Widgery Cross which is still a hidden gem. Check out the place just around the corner. We highly recommend the Lydford Country House 15 minutes walk from the gorge.
Climate Tavistock (south of Lydford)
Lydford experiences a temperate climate. July and August are the most pleasant months with almost 20°C on average, but 30°C can occur in the summer. May, June, September, and October are cool with temps between 10°C and 17°C. November to mid-April are cold on average 3°C to 8°C. Usually, the temps in winter are above 0°C. The wettest months with drizzle and precipitation are October to March. Anyhow, don't forget your rain jacket. Rain may occur throughout the year.