The climb to Masada

All the options for how to climb Masada reviewed! Combine your visit to Masada with an exciting hike through the Roman siege camps. Get amazing views of Masada from different directions.

Table of content:

MASADA HIKING TRAILS MAP

A map of all the options to hike up to Masada
Click on the map to download it in high quality


THERE ARE FOUR WAYS TO CLIMB MASADA BY FOOT. WE WILL REVIEW ALL OF THEM IN DETAILS WITH A PROS AND CONS SUMMERY

Or Go Directly to:

Masada ○ Ein-Gedi ○ Dead-Sea Tours ➢MASADA ○ EIN-GEDIDEAD-SEA TOURS ➢

THE “SNAKE” PATH

Snake path Masada full of hikers
Snake Path Packed with Hikers By Nis101 [Creative Commons]
Quick Facts:
  • Starting point: Masada Main entrance (East).
  • Length: 2.7 Kilometers
  • Total Climb: 350 meters.

The trail was built around 35 BCE during the construction of the palace and served as the primary access way to the mountain. It was built to serve both humans and domesticated working animals, and therefore it is relatively wide and has a moderate inclination. It is by far the most popular trail and can sometimes get very crowded. Thus, the feeling is not exactly of a “Hike”.

Pros:
  • The easiest option from the main entrance. (West entrance)
  • Well maintained path with no rocks and boulders.
  • Very easy to navigate, no need for a map or hiking experience.
Cons:
  • It might get crowded.
  • No “Hiking” feeling.
  • No special views during the hike.

THE “ROMAN RAMP” PATH

Climbing the roamn ramp to masada at sunrise
The Roman Ramp
Quick Facts:
  • Starting point: Masada West entrance.
  • Length: 0.7 Kilometers
  • Total Climb: 50 meters.

To speed up the overtaking of Masada (73 AD), the Romans built a ramp that led from the western cliff to the Masada wall.  The rampart was constructed with the aid of Jewish forced laborers.  The base was constructed out of trees from the Judea mountains and covered with soil that had been collected in the area. The result was a diagonal battery of about 100 meters that brought the attackers under the fortress walls. It is by far the easiest way to climb to Masada by foot. However, access by car to the west side is much longer, and it is not served with public transportation.

Pros:
  • The easiest and shortest options by far to climb Masada.
  • Well maintained path with no rocks and boulders.
  • Very easy to navigate, no need for a map or hiking experience.
Cons:
  • No public transportation.
  • Much longer to access by car. (Compared with the main entrance)
  • No sense of achievement and certainly not a hike.
  • No special views during the hike.
FULL DAY MASADA HIKE

THE “RUNNER” PATH

Climbing to Masada via the Runner Path
Climbing the “Runner Path”
Quick Facts:
  • Starting point: Masada Main entrance. (East)
  • Length: 3.7 Kilometers
  • Total Climb: 350 meters.

During the siege on Masada, the Roman legion built several camps around the mountain. The “Runner” path was constructed to serve the runners that delivered messages from the eastern camps at the base of the mountain to the western camps on the cliff. The ancient path is rough and rocky with steep and exposed sections. Metal handrails are installed where needed. During the climb, you get terrific views on Northern palace with its three stages and the 12 water cisterns. The trail also passes via the ruins of several Roman siege camps. An inserting and rewarding hike!

Pros:
  • A real hike.
  • Not crowded.
  • Amazing views on the northern palace of Masada.
  • Visiting ruins of the Roman siege camps.
Cons:
  • Some sections are rough, rocky, and steep.
  • Longer and more strenuous than the previous options.

Climb Runner Path as part of a Full day Hike

THE “ELAZAR” PATH

View of Masada from Elazar Mountain
View From Elazar Mountain
Quick Facts:
  • Starting point: Masada Main entrance. (East)
  • Length: 4.1 Kilometers
  • Total Climb: 500 meters.

Elazar mountain is situated south of Masada mountain with the deep Masada canyon separating between the two peaks. It is the only mountain around Masada, which is higher than the palace (About 40 m higher) and therefore offers what is probably the best view on Masada. On its summit, you will also find the ruins of another Roman siege camps. It is a great location to read/listen to the story of the Masada. From the summit, there is a very steep descent into the Masada canyon and short climb to the base of the Roman ramp. As in the runner path, The terrain is rough and rocky, and the trail is steep and exposed in some sections.

Pros:
  • A real hike.
  • Not crowded.
  • Fantastic view on Masada from mount Elazar’s summit.
  • Visiting ruins of the Roman siege camps.
Cons:
  • Some sections are rough, rocky, and steep.
  • The Longest and hardest way to reach Masada.

Climb Elazar Mountain as part of a full day Hike FULL DAY MASADA HIKE

MASADA SUNRISE TOURS

A crowd wathing the sun rise over the dead sea
Typical Crowds at Masada Sunrise

DAILY TOURS FROM JERUSALEM AND TEL-AVIV

Watching the sun rising above the Dead-Sea while standing in the legendary Masada fortress, is a dream for many visitors to Israel. To help you accomplish your dream with ease, we offer here a convenient yet affordable tour with daily departures from Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. To make the tours even more attractive, we attached to it additional attractions:

  • Early departure from Tel-Aviv or Jerusalem.
  • Hike the Snake-Path to the top of Masada. (The cable car is closed at this early hour).
  • Watch the Sunrise over the Dead-Sea.
  • Tour of Masada.
  • Hike in the Ein-Gedi natural reserve.
  • Relax and float in the Dead-Sea.
  • Price from: 250 NIS (About 70 USD)
Details and BookingFrom Jerusalem Details and BookingFrom Tel-Aviv

OUR UNIQUE ALTERNATIVES

I will share with you here a little secret. The southern section of Dead-Sea that in front of Masada, is not a sea for many years. It is an area of industrial pools that serve the phosphate plants. (Very shameful for Israel, but that is the fact). On the other hand, the northern section of the Dead-Sea is still wild nature. As a result, the Views from the mountains above is more attractive than the views from Masada. Therefore, also the Sunrise view there is much better! (And much less crowded)

Sunrise over the Dead Sea

THE “DON’T WANT TO WAKE UP SO EARLY” OPTION:

Drive with your car to Metzukey Dragot (Dragot Cliffs).(GPS  31.589769, 35.392739)
Its a Modest Hostel and Campground on the edge of the Dead-Sea cliff.
Advantage: You can reach the place with your car and even sleep at the location, so you can wake up much later and watch the sunrise with a cup of coffee on the balcony. In addition to the hostel, there are two more luxurious cabins, where you practically get to see the Sunrise on the Dead-Sea from your Window!

THE “HIKERS” OPTION (OUR RECOMMENDATION):

If you don’t want to watch the sun rising over the Dead Sea with a crowd of people around you.
If you prefer to hike up to your private Sunrise Spot, there are a few trails that get to the top of the Dead-Sea cliff at remote locations where you will be able to experience the sunrise all by yourself and enjoy the silence of the desert. We recommend the Black marked trail that starts at Einot Tzukim (GPS 31.716479, 35.450285) , and climbs to the Einot Zukim View Point. The path is 1.5 Kilometers long with a 200 meters climb. (Highly recommended to use the head-mounted flashlight)

Get the small Hiking Map and GPS file for this short hike for just 2$.

RECOMMENDED LODGING

To choose the best accommodation near Masada, you need to answer first a few questions:

  1. Do you plan to enter from the East(Main) entrance or the west(Back) entrance?
    East (main entrance) – Access via the cable car and the Snake path.
    West (Back entrance) – Access via the Roman ramp (Only on foot).
    There is no passage between the east and west sides by road!
  2. Do you plan to hike to watch the sunrise from the Masada summit?
  3. What is more important to you? Convenience or distance to Masada?

With the aid of our map and explanations, you will be able to make the right choice!

Masada Accommodations Map
Click the map to enlarge

MASADA HOSTEL

Masada Hostel

The HL Masada Guesthouse is the only lodging option at Masada. It is a modest hostel, but clean, pleasant, and at a very reasonable price. Accommodation level ranges between mixed dormitories and private rooms with a shower and bathroom. There are no restaurants in the area. Breakfast is included, and dinner is served at the hostel’s cantine at an extra charge. (2,400 reviews, score 8.1, the Price range for singles is 40-$120$). Its the only option if you want to start the hike on the snake path directly from your door-step.
Take into account that due to its location it is in very high demand and early booking is recommended.

DEAD-SEA EIN-BOKEK

Ein-Bokek Dead-Sea hotels resort area

Ein Bokek in the main Dead-Sea hotels area. It has the typical look and feel of a big sea-side resort area. The choice is extensive. From five stars luxury hotels to simple ones. Price ranges from 120$ to 300$. The drive from Ein Bokek to Masada’s main entrance is about 15 minutes with an excellent public bus service. Most hotels in the area receive medium reviews. The only ones with a review score 8+ are these:

Most good hotels in the area have a two nights minimum policy, So if you try to book for one night, you will usually get a No Availability answer!
* Prices per night for two people in a double room

NOKDIM DESERT VILLAGE

Kfar Hanokdim near masada

The Nokdim Village is Situated 10 kilometers from Masad’s west entrance, in the middle of the desert, this can be a very atmospheric choice for visitors planning to visit Masad fro the west side. Be aware that access from the west is only on foot via the Roman ramp. However, it’s the easiest way to reach the summit for Sunrise. It’s a great place to chill out between the 80 palm trees and the 120 hammocks that are scattered around. Accommodation level ranges from camping up to private huts in different luxury levels and prices accordingly from 140$ to 220$ per night for two persons in a private cabin. The location is not served by public transportation!

Take into account that due to its location it is in very high demand and early booking is recommended.

ARAD

Arad, town in Israel

Arad is a small desert town (Population 25,000) situated 21 kilometers from Masad’s west entrance. It’s a pleasant town with plenty of lodging options and a few decent dining options. A solid choice if you plan to access Masada from the West. Arad is served well with public transportation, but there is NO public transportation from the town to Masada!

Masada Campsite

Masada CampingBy far the most economical option is the Masada Campsite. You have to bring your own tent. A mattress and sleeping bag can be rented for a reasonable price. Phone: +972-8-628-0404

 

OUR RECOMMENDED MASADA HIKE

 

If you are a hiker, you can turn a “standard” visit to Masada into a memorable and unique Hiking Experience.  Climb up the mountain on the ancient “Runners” path, visit the  Masada site, then get back down via Elazar mountain. You will visit the ruins of several Roman siege camps and get amazing views of Masada from different angles. You will also enjoy a true desert atmosphere away for the crowds.
Hike Metrics
Hike Description
Distance8.5 Km (Add 2 Km for touring Masada site)
Short version4.5 Km
Climb350 m
DifficultyModerate
BestDec - Mar
PossibleNov - Apr
(The short version can be done Oct - May if you start hiking at Sunrise)
LocationGoogle-Maps-icon-2020
Start PointGoogle-Maps-icon-2020

To get the most out of this route, we suggest to learn a little about Masada and especially about the Roman siege.[ Masada (Wikipedia) / Siege on Masada (Wikipedia) ]

Important note: If you want to combine the hike with a visit to Masada Archaeological site, you need to buy the entrance ticket at the office before you start!

Climb Masda as part of a 4 days Desert Trek

TRACK DESCRIPTION:
  • For the short version, finish the tour at Masada site and descend with the Cable Car.
  • Starting point –  parking area at Masada National Park (1). (entrance fee required)
  • Follow the signs to the “Snake Trail” on an unmarked dirt road for about 500 m until the junction with the ‡Red‡ marker. (2)
  • On your right, you can see the ruins of a Roman siege camp.
  • Turn right and follow the ‡Red‡ markers for about 1.3 Km until he junction with the ‡Green‡ marker. (3)
Masada Hiking Topographic map with English labels and legend
Get the Masada Trails Detailed Hiking map for just 5$
  • Turn left and follow the ‡Green‡ markers. You are now on the “Runner Trail”. This trail was used by the Roman messengers (runners) to pass information between the camps.
  • You climb steeply about 200 m. As you gain height, you get excellent views on the Northern palace of Masada and the Roman Ramp.
Masada Northern Palace. View from the "Runner" Path
Masada Northern Palace. View from the “Runner” Path

A Perfect Spot for an extended break to enjoy the view and learn about the story of Masada.

For a unique, private tour of Masada with “Danny the Digger” –  Fill out the Form.

  • At the top of the cliff, the trail curves left. Continue with the ‡Green‡ markers until you reach the back (West) entrance to Masada. (4).
  • Turn left and ascend to Masada on the Roam Ramp trail.
  • Tour the site and walk down back to (4). (Or descend with the cable care if you choose the short version)

More Hikes in the Judean Desert ➢

  • Turn Left and follow the ‡Red‡ markers into the Masada Wadi.
  • After about 750 m, you will notice that the Wadi makes a sharp left turn.
  • Leave the trail and follow the Wadi shortly until the big dry waterfall.
  • Enjoy the dramatic cliff and the magnificent view down to the dead sea.
  • Continue with the ‡Red‡ markers now into a short steep climb to the saddle of Elazar mountain (5).
  • Turn left on the ‡Black‡ markers to reach the top of Elazar mountain near the Ruins of the Roman Siege camp H.
View of Masada from Elazar Mountain
View From Elazar Mountain
  • Enjoy the view and imagine the Roman soldiers standing at the same spot.
  • A perfect location for a long break.
  • Continue for about 1.7 Km with the ‡Black‡ markers down steeply all the way to the starting point (1).

Get the Detailed Hiking Map and GPS file for the hiking trails around Masada for just 5$

  1. Detailed Hiking Map of the Masada area optimized for printing on an A4 size paper or for browsing on your device.
  2. GPS track files for navigation on your IOS/Android App , or on a Hiking GPS.
  3. Map Legend and labels are in English

Buy Now Add to Cart

Sample Map - new2
Typical Map Example

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MASADA FAQ’s

How long does it take to climb Masada?

Climbing up from the snake path takes about 45 minutes. The length of the trail in about 2.5 Kilometers, and you will need to climb 350 meters.
You can also climb from the East entrance on the Roman ramp. this takes about 15 minutes, and the distance is about half a kilometer. Go here for a full description of all the options.

What is the height of Masada?

Masada is at sea level (0 m ASL), but is almost 400 meters tall rising from the Dead Sea.

Can you get to Masada by Bus?

Yes. Several “Eged” bus lines that go from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea and Eilat stop at Masada. It is very convenient to reach it with public transport.

Can you sleep at Masada?

Yes. But there is only one option, which is The HL Masada Guesthouse. So if you plan to stay here, we recommended booking several months in advance since it is in very high demand.

How difficult is it to climb the Snake Path?

It is a moderate 350 m (1000 feet) climb on a well-graded and maintained footpath. Any person in good health and strong will can handle it. (If you climb on the Snake Path). There also other options reviewed here.

What are the opening hours of the snake path?

The Snake Path opens each day one hour before the sunrise. Sunrise during the winter is around 06:00 and in the summer around 05:00. You can check the exact times here.

When was Masada Built?

Masada was built between 31 and 37 BCE

Who built Masada?

Masada was built by Herod the Great

When was the Siege on Masada?

The siege took place in the years 73-74 BCE and was one of the final events that ended the “Great Revolt” of the Jews against the Roam empire.

How many Jews were killed at Masada?

The common belief is that 960 of the defenders of Masada died during the Siege. However, only 28 bodies were found during the excavation