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In Iceland, off-roading is strictly prohibited. Unfortunately, it still happens and one can find tracks of off-roading all over the central highlands. On the other hand, in the landscape, some roads that are mapped on Atlaskort do not look like much more than some tracks in the landscape either, and may have neither an F-number nor a sign where they depart from larger roads.

Under these circumstances, how would I tell a road from a place where several cars have illegally off-roaded before? Must a road have an F-number to be permissible for driving? If I have a (possibly old) map that shows a road somewhere, and I subsequently see that road in the landscape, does that mean driving there is fine, or is there some more official source stating what exactly are the roads that are officially recognised?

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Most (main) roads are marked with yellow poles. Other roads might be marked by stacks of rocks or the simple fact that there's a winding patch of less rough terrain forming an obvious trail.
If you're unsure of road markings use a proper gps unit with trail maps to verify your location.

The following points are mentioned on this website:

  • Check out the road map and see where the roads and trails are.
  • Get information about the appropriate routes at visitor centers, and from rangers or staff.
  • Find out in advance when mountain roads are likely to be open, along with other related information at visitor centers.
  • By uprooting or driving on moss, damage is caused that can take nature decades to repair.
  • Walk around a short distance or turn around if you can’t go any further by driving
  • Fines or imprisonment can be expected for offenses

My advice would be:

  • Leave no trail (don't drive on moss and other soft/damageable surfaces)
  • Get an up to date map
  • Use a proper gps unit to verify your location
  • Don't be afraid to ask for advice.

Edit:
There is some more info (and a proper map) on this website.

  • I've walked on roads that are mapped on Atlaskort, signed with posts, but not marked on your linked map, such as some of the dashed ones here. But I've also crossed tracks mapped on the same, that are not marked with any poles, such as this one or this one. The question is; does the road being on Atlaskort or ja.is imply I can drive there; even when it's just a winding patch of less rough terrain forming an obvious trail? – gerrit Oct 9 '17 at 12:07
  • 1
    In case of this 1 km branch (Kerlingartindur), all that was visible were some tracks in the terrain. Those tracks continued beyond the end of the mapped section. Indeed, only with good navigation, such as with GPS, could tell one where one is supposed to stop driving and start hiking. But asking authorities for any specific track would of course work. The road.is map only contains a small subset of central highland mountain tracks. – gerrit Oct 9 '17 at 12:08

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