Deep within the Negev Desert, a vast crater called Makhtesh Ramon seems lifeless at first glance. But this wide, dusty desert landscape is brimming with life, from the thriving creek-side plants to the charismatic, rock-hopping goats. This is Israel’s largest national park: the Ramon Nature Reserve. The 25 mile-long crater and its surrounding landscape attracts geology enthusiasts and nature lovers from around the world who seek an unforgettable desert adventure, by day and by night. The reserve itself has many hiking trails and unpaved roads, making it a prime destination for mountain biking – but the only way to access it is by the highway that runs from Eilat to the only spot of civilization within miles of the crater, the small town of Ramon.
It is this isolation from any nearby lights that helped earn the Ramon Crater the title of an IDA designated International Dark Sky Park. Israel’s IDA distinction is the first to be earned in the Middle East. The genesis-like landscapes of the Ramon Crater include geological formations that are unparalleled in the world, and tell a fascinating story about the geologic evolution of the Earth. The desert landscape in Ramon Crater is breathtaking especially at nightfall. The crater is known to have an exceptional quality of star-studded sky and a natural undisturbed night environment that allows not only the development of a unique ecosystem but also a unique human night experience.
Chelynne Campion is a Production/ Sales Assistant for EarthSky. Her family just purchased a telescope, and she's now learning to be a stargazer!