Immerse yourself in the magnificent Red Canyon
This natural treasure in Israel has been shaped over time by the Shani River.
A short drive from the lively shore of Eilat is another natural wonder: the Red Canyon. Here, a chunk of red sandstone nearly 100 feet long has been eroded over time by the Shani River — crafting a smooth, multicolored canyon that's perfect for a morning hike.
Layers and layers of sedimentary rock show a rare glimpse into geological history. The rust color comes from exactly that: rust. Sandstone embedded with iron oxide boasts a beautiful array of pinks, oranges, yellows and reds. Some parts of Red Canyon are tinted purple by manganese deposits.
The sunrise at Red Canyon is like no other, imparting a glow that only the golden hour of dawn can produce. Some parts of the canyon still see trickles of water, the very same water that has carved out pathways through the stones for thousands of years.
Visitors to the canyon have a few options for hiking, and all of them require a reasonable amount of agility. Routes through and above the canyon require hikers to climb, but footholds and ladders are provided when necessary.
Those who do choose to explore the bottom of the canyon are surrounded by stone walls that stretch nearly 100 feet above them — a surreal and exciting experience. A word of caution: it can be difficult to retrace steps back through the canyon on crowded days; most tourist sites suggest going forward along the trail to the exit rather than turning back. Luckily the trail through the canyon is one of the shorter options.
The view looking down into the canyon. (Photo: Senia L/Flickr)
The circular trail, on the other hand, goes around the top of the canyon, and hiking it can take up to an hour and a half. The views outward show Eilat's spectacular mountains while the views downward offer a unique perspective.
However you explore the Red Canyon — inside, around, above or in photos — such an intricate, ancient formation reminds us of how the passage of time can truly produce something magnificent.
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