Askja is a stratovolcano situated in a remote part of the central highlands of Iceland. The name Askja refers to a complex of nested calderas within the surrounding Dyngjufjöll mountains, which rise to 1,510 m (4,954 ft) .The region is only accessible for a few months of the year. Being situated in the rain-shadow to the NE of the Vatnajökull icecap, the area receives only about 450 mm of rainfall annually. The area was used during training for the Apollo program to prepare astronauts for the lunar missions, their main objective in Askja was to study geology.
Askja was virtually unknown until the tremendous eruption which started on March 29, 1875. Especially in the eastern fjords of Iceland, the ashfall was heavy enough to poison the land and kill livestock. Ash, or tephra from this eruption was wind-blown to Norway and Sweden. The eruption triggered a substantial wave of emigration from Iceland. Another less well-known eruption occurred in the early Holocene, ca 11,000 years ago. Tephra from this eruption has been found in south-east Sweden, Northern Ireland and north Norway.
Sights and tourism in the area:
In the Dyngjufjöll mountains which surround the Askja caldera can be found the impressive Drekagil, the canyon of dragons. Not far from Askja, there are two other interesting volcanic systems: Herðubreið and Kverkfjöll. Askja is a popular tourist destination.
There are two mountain huts and a campsite at Dreki, by Drekagil, which is about 100 km by a 4x4 F-road, from the Icelandic ring-road. The road continues 8 km up from Dreki into the Askja caldera. It is a walk of about 2.5 km from the car park to Öskjuvatn and Víti. The roads are usually only open for about three to four months, from late June until early October.