The geological wonderland of Timna Park is one of the biggest attractions in southern Israel. Only 17 miles north of Eilat, a visit to Timna is a great way to break your drive to Israel’s Red Sea Riviera. On a shorter stay you can see the highlights and enjoy the air-conditioned multi-media presentation, while on a longer foray you can also chose from several hiking routes, each with its own special appeal. Among the attractions, the windows of Timna’s restaurant frame what at first you’ll think must be a desert mirage – a lake! Use of a paddleboat is even included in your entrance ticket, as is the fun of filling a bottle with the multicolored sand for which the region is famous.
The star of Timna Park is Solomon’s Pillars, towering sandstone columns so perfectly formed that you might really think they were a gargantuan public works project initiated by the biblical king for whom they are named. But of course, they, like all the other formations in the 23-square-mile park, are nature’s handiwork. So are stripes of magma frozen in geological time in the cliffs, and the sandstone, in its soft palette of pastels, shaped by wind and water into strange shapes like “the mushroom” and “the sphinx.” One of the shorter hiking routes takes you right through Solomon’s Pillars to behold the image of the Egyptian goddess Hathor carved into the stone, and to her ancient shrine at the foot of the cliffs of the other side. This imposing Lady of the Rock was the patroness of miners, as you’ll discover at the exciting multimedia presentation, “Mines of Time,” where the pharaohs, kings, queens and quarriers, who knew this region millennia ago, come alive. After enjoying the presentation, you’ll be able to decipher the mystery of the 8,000 or so stone circles discovered in the park: they once led to shafts that were the first copper mines in the world (one of which you can explore). Copper mining was renewed for a time in the early days of Israel as a livelihood for the newborn city of Eilat; a byproduct is the beautiful teal-to-turquoise rock known as Eilat stone, which is an Israeli jewelry trademark.
From October to April, groups can enjoy rappelling, archery, and a zip-line at the park. During the summer months, regular park hours are extended to offer sunset tours, and you can attend an evening show at the illuminated cliffs. Timna Park can also be an imaginative venue for your special family celebration in Israel.