The beginning of the trip is at the western traffic circle of Eilat at the beginning of the Ma'ale Eilat road (Route 12). The road leads us to the Eilat Mountains reserve, which features a variety of rocks of different colors and textures. Among them the most ancient rocks exposed in the country created more than 560 million years ago. The road crosses the wide channel of Nahal Shlomo and climbs parallel to the ancient Ma'ale Eilat. Look right at the curves of the ancient hill and to the monument of the IDF Engineering Corps at its head as you travel the new road between Mount Yehoram and Mount Yoash.
[Passengers in a multi-engine vehicle can go up Ma'ale Eilat and later descend on the dirt road to the top of the waterfall above Ein Netafim. From there, a short footpath is marked to the spring.]
At the end of the climb, you will reach the Netafim border checkpoint. The road continues straight across the Egyptian border and leads to the ""Valley of the Moon,"" which you will see for a few more minutes. You will turn right and drive parallel to the border fence to your left about 5 kilometers to the signs that direct you to the Mount Hezekiah observation point, also known as 838 - the height of the mountain above sea level.
At the top of the mountain, a pair of old border stones was placed where the border between the Ottoman Empire that ruled Palestine and the British who controlled Egypt once stood. The new stone whose number is 82, was placed on a section of the international border between Israel and Egypt after the peace agreement was signed. From the observation point, a view of the Valley of the Moon to the southwest and the mouth of the Gulf of Eilat, the Arava, and the Edom Mountains to the west. You will go back to Route 12 and continue another 3.5 km to a dirt road that branches right (east) from the road. The signs will lead you to the Red Canyon, and the dirt road leads you to the parking lot. There, you will see two trail options before you. On both, you will begin with the green trail markings and cross the famous ravine with red sands. Those that choose the short trail (about one hour to one hour and a half) will turn right at the end of the canyon to a trail with black trail markings and return parallel to the canyon and above it to the parking lot.
Those that choose the longer trail will continue in the canyon with the green markings, down Nahal Shani, another 1.5 km to the junction with the black trail marking, and follow it right up to the ravine of the Nahal Shani southward. The trail will take you from views of sandstone to sediment rocks and later to bedrock. At the junction with the red trail markings, turn right and follow the red markings back to the parking lot.
You will get in your vehicle and drive back, past the border checkpoint and begin to descend with road towards Eilat. After about 1.5 km you reach the right turn to Mount Yoash, the dirt road that climbs to the top of the mountain is steep and narrow and requires careful driving, but a private vehicle can make it - not for buses. At the top of the mountain, there are several observation points with signs pointing to the sites. It is recommended to come in the late afternoon when the sun shines from west to east and south. Drive cautiously down the dirt road back to the main road and from there to Eilat. This road is particularly beautiful in the afternoons when the landscape opens up in front of you with the curves of the road.
Written by Asaf Holtzer
Photo: Dafna Tal for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism