The raw and rugged beauty of Iceland is captivating. You can’t drive more than a mile without wanting to stop and take pictures. And every time I jumped out of the car with my camera, I’d find myself memorized by my surroundings. Iceland has a funny way of surprising you with her beauty, time and time again.

We spent one week navigating the winding roads of southwest Iceland. Road-tripping is the best way to do it, but Mother Nature was moody. We’d start with clear blue skies, then get some rain that eventually turned to snow. Then it was back to sunshine and rainbows.

We had a jam-packed itinerary with a trip to the blue lagoon, hiking a glacier, horseback riding, and snorkeling. It was all incredible, but Iceland is busy! There are busloads of tourists checking things off their list. We were turned off by the crowds and started searching for something more secluded. That’s what sent us hiking through the mountains to find hidden waterfalls and blissful hot springs. Numb fingers and toes were worth it, as we stood in awe of Iceland’s magical surroundings.

Once you think you’ve seen everything, Iceland finds away to take it to the next level. The evening forecast was consistently cloudy during our trip. But in Skalakot, we were up late one night and kept peeking at the sky. It looked like it was clearing up so we ran outside and saw the lights start to creep over the mountains. The aurora borealis was breathtaking, but I was hypnotized by the millions of stars that lit up the night sky. It felt like we were in another galaxy.

There aren’t many places I plan on visiting again, because there’s so much to see in the world. But there’s something so wild and extreme about Iceland that leaves me wanting more.