Despite the high prices, Iceland is a wildly popular vacation spot for foreigners—and American travelers in particular. But tourists visiting Iceland in the spring and early summer may be disappointed to find that one of the island’s most beautiful locations is off-limits. As Condé Nast Traveler reports, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon will be closed until June, and Justin Bieber is being blamed.
Fjaðrárgljúfur is a 1-mile-long, 330-foot-deep canyon located in the southern part of the country. The river that runs through it is shallow enough to hike in, making it a popular spot for tourists looking to experience Iceland’s vegetation and geology up close.
But in recent years, Fjaðrárgljúfur has become too popular for its own good. The number of visitors to the canyon rose from 150,000 in 2016 and to 282,000 in 2017, forcing the site to close for recovery a few times since then.
What’s the reason for the dramatic spike? Some people say Justin Bieber had something to do with it: In 2015, he released his music video for “I’ll Show You,” which shows him walking around and looking moody in what was once a hidden gem of Iceland.
But the pop star doesn’t deserve all the blame. Iceland’s overall number of foreign visitors quadrupled between 2010 and 2017, thanks in part to cheap airfare and innovative tourism campaigns. Fjaðrárgljúfur is just one example of how the small island nation has struggled to accommodate the influx of tourists.
“It’s just a natural wonder that wasn’t meant to be that popular,” Inga Hlin Palsdottir, the director of Iceland’s tourism agency, told CNN Travel. “We need to build a better infrastructure there so we can invite people all year round.”
In the springtime, the ice and snow in Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon thaw, leaving trails wet and muddy. Not only is this dangerous for hikers, but it makes the canyon more vulnerable to the dangers of constant foot traffic.
After the canyon has a few months to recover, it will open back up to tourists in time for the busy summer season. If you’re planning a trip to Iceland before then, there are plenty of sites to check out that are just as impressive.
[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]