Iceland Is Closing Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

iStock.com/Thomas Schnitzler
iStock.com/Thomas Schnitzler

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]

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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Visit Any National Park for Free on September 26—or Volunteer to Help Maintain Them

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
Nick Hanauer/iStock via Getty Images

Temperatures are quickly cooling down, and you might be inclined to take advantage of the last few long, sunny days with a weekend visit to the great outdoors. This Saturday, September 26, you can bask in the open air of any national park for free, as part of National Public Lands Day.

According to the National Park Service, the holiday has been held on the fourth Saturday of every September since 1994, and it’s also the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort. It’s up to you whether you’d like to partake in the service side or simply go for a stroll. Opportunities for volunteering include tree-planting, park cleanups, and more; you can find events near you here. There are also a number of virtual events you can tune into, which range from wildlife livestreams and virtual tours to how-to webinars (a Virginia State Parks ranger, for example, will teach you how to make a bee hotel).

There are more than 400 areas run by the National Park Service across the U.S., and many of them aren’t parks in the traditional sense of the word; the Statue of Liberty, Alcatraz Island, and countless other monuments and historical sites are also run by the NPS. Wondering if there might be one closer than you thought? Explore parks in your area on this interactive map.

If you do decide to celebrate National Public Lands Day on public lands, you should contact the park—or check its website—before you head there so you know of any coronavirus-related protocols they've put in place. And for those of you who can’t take advantage of the free admission on September 26, the National Park Service will also waive all entrance fees for Veterans Day on November 11.