The Red Canyon offers a stunning hike in southern Israel. Moreover, the trail is short, circular, free, and you can reach it by bus.
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Table of Contents
Map of the area:
Here is the trails map, and we will overview the trails in the next section.
Here is an interactive map from israelhiking.osm.org.il where the short loop trail is marked:
|#||Name||Description||Distance||Total climb and descent||Notes|
|1||Short Red Canyon trail||Take the green path until it meets the black way for the second time. Then, return using the black, green, and blue trails.||2 km||193 meters||Short cyclic trail and the most popular option.|
|2||Red Canyon and Southern Wadi Shani||Take the green path until it meets the black way for the third time. Then take the black and the red trails back to the parking.||5 km||676 meters|
|3||Red Canyon, Southern Wadi Shani, and Neshef mountain||Take the green path until it meets the black way for the third time. Then take the black path and turn to the blue trail to the top of Neshef mountain. Use the brown and black trails to return.||9 km||923 meters|
We did not have additional maps besides the one on the photo of the sign. We chose option #1, and the markings of the trails were clear. Thus, at least for #1, no additional maps are required.
There are several options to get there. Let’s go over them.
Car: Reaching the Red Canyon by car is the fastest and one of the cheapest options. Entering “Red Canyon” into Waze will lead you to the parking lot.
Bus: If you are considering public transport, then the closest stop is bus #392. Route 392 stops on road #12 about 2 km from the Red Canyon trail’s starting point. So if you travel by bus, it will add an extra 4 km to your hike. You can find directions at this Moovit link (update your starting point).
Taxi: Getting to and from the Red Canyon by taxi is the most expensive option. Moreover, if you plan to call a taxi when you finish the trail, I should warn you that not at all places in the mountains there is cellular reception.
You can visit this Nature Reserve during the daytime. And since it is very close to the border with Egypt, you can be only in authorized campgrounds after dark. Furthermore, since you have to finish the trail before dark, you have to start it at least two hours before the sunset. And this leads us to the next question.
When To Visit The Red Canyon?
First, let’s start with the season. During the summer, it is boiling there. Thus I would suggest any other season. And preferably winter. But one important note, do not hike after and during rains. Though wet stones are problematic, the real concern is flooding. And flooding in a narrow canyon can be lethal.
Regarding the time of day, I would suggest coming early. The earlier, the better. I advise early morning since first of all, it is not as hot during those hours. And secondly, there will be fewer people. Significant parts of this trail go through the narrow canyon and include multiple ladders. Thus, if you get stuck after a big group of people that makes selfies every several meters, the hike will take more time than expected.
The photos you will see in this post are from our last visit. It was on a sunny day in December, and we started the hike at 8 am.
How Much Time Does The Red Canyon Trail Take?
The short loop trail, as I described it above, took us 1.5 hours. Depending on your speed, the number of people, and photographs, this trail should take 1 – 2 hours.
Short Loop Trail
And now I will show you the short loop trail, which starts with the green path at the parking.
Shani stream, which originates in Egypt, undercuts colorful sandstone and creates the Red Canyon. When the volcanic granite rock erodes, its quartz survives mechanical wear and chemical decomposition. Sandstone is made of those same surviving quartz crystals, and its red color derives from the presence of iron compounds.
Here we are on the green path looking back towards parking.
Red Canyon trail starts with a light path along hills.
After a while, we start to see red rocks.
Inside The Red Canyon
Then the green trail leads you inside a narrow canyon.
And you start going down and down.
In the beginning, you climb over rocks as you go down, and then you start using metal ladders.
The trail inside the narrow canyon is not long, and it took us about twenty minutes to pass it (this includes my photo and video stops). When you exit the canyon’s narrow part, you will see signs (bottom left) that tell you to turn right. These signs lead you towards the black trail.
The black trail leads back along the canyon’s upper rim (while the green one passes inside).
It seems that the Red Canyon is #instafamous. These youngsters were taking selfies frequently. And since there were about a dozen of them, jams were created. But, this gave me additional time to photograph 😉
After climbing the ladder from the previous photo, you will go to the top of the narrow canyon.
From there, there are no more ladders, and it is a simple walk along the side of the canyon.
Around this point, our path rejoined with the green trail. And then we took the blue one back to the parking.
You can get by car, shuttle, bus #392 or taxi. See the full answer at the “Directions” section above.
Hike and enjoy nature.
Red Canyon Nature Reserve has no opening hours. In other words, it is always open. But for security reasons, after dark, you can be only in authorized campgrounds.
The most popular attractions in Eilat are Underwater Observatory Marine Park and Dolphin Reef. Near the southern city, Timna Park is one of the beloved places. You can find additional information in the guide to Eilat.
No, there are many rocks and even ladders. But you can use a baby carrier.
The Red Canyon Trail took us about one and a half hours. Though several ladders were on the way, my daughter in the first grade had no difficulties completing the track.
We enjoyed this route, and this is probably one of the most beautiful trails in Israel. Moreover, it is cyclic and not extended. Thus, families with children and less fit people can appreciate it as well. I highly recommend it.
Have you ever hiked at the Red Canyon? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
Additional ResourcesHere are several resources that I created to help travelers:
- Israel Trip Planner is the page that will help you to create your perfect travel route.
- National Parks And Nature Reserves page lists and put all national parks on the map. There is also a top list, information about ticket types and campsites.
- If you are looking for things to do, here are the pages for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sea Of Galilee, and Makhtesh Ramon.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.