Information about Mitzpe Ramon

Location: Israel

Mitzpe Ramon is a town in the Negev desert of southern Israel. It is situated on the northern ridge at an elevation of 800 meters (2,400 feet) overlooking a sizable erosion cirque known as the Ramon Crater. This crater, or makhtesh, as it is called in Hebrew, is 28 miles long and five miles wide.

Mitzpe Ramon was originally founded in 1951 as a camp for the workers building the road to Eilat. The town's first permanent residents, immigrants from North Africa and Romania, settled there in the 1960s, and it became the southernmost of the Negev's development towns. Mitzpe Ramon remains small and struggling, with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. One of the original opportunities for founding a town in this location was to take advantage of traffic on Route 40 traveling to and returning from Eilat in the south, a few nearby military bases and some limestone and gypsum quarries. Several large military bases (with over 10,000 soldier’s altogether) surround the town, including the large Ramon Airbase. The Wise Astronomy Observatory is located 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) to the west.

The development of Mitzpe Ramon was adversely affected by the opening of Route 90 in the late 1960s. After the inauguration of this highway, traffic to and from Eilat bypassed Mitzpe Ramon almost entirely. However, growing interest in ecotourism, jeep trekking and hiking, and the upgrading of Route 40, which is considered a more scenic route to Eilat, have improved matters since the mid-1990s.
A hotel opened in Mitzpe Ramon in the late-1990s, with an indoor swimming pool. There is a Visitors Centre overlooking the Ramon Crater and the physically fit can hike down into the crater for a 4 to 5 hour trek without any shade. Among other attractions there is a llama and alpaca farm.
Mitzpe Ramon experiences hot, dry summers and cold winters. Snowfall occurs on average once in a couple of years.