The Scorpion Trail in the Negev Desert in Southern Israel (also known as the Scorpions Ascent, the Akrabim ascent) is a stunning scenic route which traverses some of the most beautiful scenery the desert has to offer. The Scorpion Trail is a 30km stretch of road (road 227) which runs between the Arava Valley and Central Negev. It provides incredible panoramic vistas across some of the most spectacular landscapes that the desert offers.
The Scorpion Trail can be found on road maps as road #227. It runs from road #226, south east of the city of Dimona, to Road 90 at Ir Ovot, about 30 minutes south of the Dead Sea. A drive along the Scorpion Trail would take about 1 hour, but the breathtaking scenery makes stopping to absorb the landscape almost obligatory.
History of the Scorpion Trail
The Akrabim ascent (akram means curves in Arabic) was the first name for the Scorpion Route (it was referred to as the “scorpion ascent” in the Bible). The area was notable from Biblical times as the southern border of the “Promised Land” and the border of the land belonging to the Tribe of Judah. Mentioned throughout the Bible, it was during the Nabatean Period that the route became important as part of the Spice Route – leading from modern-day Saudi Arabia to port on the Mediterranean, and three stations for camel changing and overnights were constructed along the way.
The route was upgraded by the Romans, and once again, almost 2,000 years later, by the British who rebuilt it to connect two police stations. After Israel’s independence, the road was paved, widened, and served as ‘the road to Eilat’ until 1954 when the road was replaced following the ambush of a bus traveling north from Eilat.
Driving the Scorpion Trail
Today the Negev Scorpion Trail is a scenic road used almost exclusively by those wanting to admire the desert scenery. Featuring some narrow passes and a series of challenging hairpin turns, it is a special route from which to admire the desert scenery, including the Zin Valley, Gov Stream, and, a small detour from the upper section of the road, the Small Crater. It encompasses some of the most beautiful scenery in the Negev Desert.
The route is open-year round (except from periods in the winter when it could be closed due to the risk of flash flooding).
Near the upper section of the road is the Nabatean city of Mamshit which is today a UNESCO Heritage Site, and the Negev Camel Ranch. The lower end of the road reaches Road 90 (the north-south highway) just near the Biblical site of Tamar (Ir Ovot), and about 30 minutes south of the Dead Sea.