Birds-eye view of Machtesh Ramon and Ein Saharonim (blue marker). Note the heart-shaped form of the machtesh and the septal point just above the blue marker where Har Ardon rises. You can explore this area further here on Google Maps.
The entrance is well marked and easy to find to the left of Route 40 as you head toward Eilat. But before you get there you must traverse a rocky dirt road of about 8 kilometers. This road passes over a number of wadis and broad flood plains whose flat, rippled surface shows the weathered effects of rain and flooding even during the summer months.
After a few turns you come upon a monumental wall of red, green and yellow stratified clay, at whose base is a great cirque filled with soft, red and yellow pulverized clay, littered with boulders that have dropped from the wall by erosion. Few seem to stop and enjoy the wall and the cirque, although it alone is the equal of many sights in the machtesh.
Panorama of the great clay wall and cirque on the way to Ein Saharonim. Note hikers at the base for scale. (As always, click for full-size images.)
I have no idea what geological forces acting over eons created this marvel. Watch the slanted top of the wall carefully. On occasion, late in the day, we have seen a sand cat lurking in the crevices of the wall.
At the base of the clay wall, above the cirque.
Fantastically colored rocks lie in the cirque surrounding the wall. Here we see a many-hued rock of rose, amethyst, ochre, yellow, orange, green, turquoise, jade, grey, tan and many other colors. This coloration is due to the mineral deposits in the clay as well as microbial action. (Leave what you find here for others to enjoy.)
As we continue on the road from the clay wall we immediately reach a rise from where the giant face of Har Ardon is visible. Har Ardon (Mt. Ardon) is the 2000 foot, vertical wall face of the machtesh, actually a cliff, where its heart shaped septum comes to a point.
Har Ardon rises dramatically before us as we head for Ein Saharonim.
To our left as we descend the road is the Bedouin Experience campground where visitors can spend the night sleeping in Bedouin-style tents and eating Bedouin-style food. Har Ardon looms larger and larger as we continue to approach it. The road winds on another few kilometers from here, and following the signs we eventually come to Ein Saharonim itself.