December 25th 2014
Spanning approximately 250 acres, the Jordan River National Park (Park HaYarden in Hebrew) can be found a bit more than a mile northeast of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) in the foothills of the Golan Heights region. The park’s sprawling green spaces and trails offer a nice counterbalance to more hectic days spent touring Israel’s landmarks and cities. Although you can certainly enjoy a pleasant afternoon picnic in the park and continue onward, it’s worthwhile to stay a bit longer and seek out several highlights, including a water-driven four mill and the springs of Ein Mishpa. During the warmer months, this is also a popular site for water sports and camping.
The flour mill site has been reconstructed to harness the natural power of the Jordan River’s current. You’ll find the site in the center of the park. From the flour mill, you can follow the aqueduct trail that diverts water from the Jordan River to power the flour mill. From atop the hill, you can glimpse the Jordan River running over basalt rocks and through the Beit Zaida valley. It’s also possible from here to observe the small communities of Karkom and Almagor. With 150 families, Karkom is the largest of the area’s 13 communities, while Almagor was originally an army settlement and is now home to approximately 350 residents.
The Jordan River National Park also contains Tel Mishpa (also known as Tel Beit Zaida), an elevation that includes the ruins of a fishing village. The site has special significance in Christian tradition. The Ein Mishpa spring is located on the shady side of Tel Mishpa. The spring is fed by waters from the Jordan River and is a great location to set out a picnic on the nearby picnic tables.
It’s possible to fish in the Jordan River, and kayak and inner tube rentals are available from April through mid-October. Restrooms and fresh water fountains are available for the comfort of park guests. The park also offers a playground for its younger visitors.
If you have extra time, you can combine a visit to the Jordan River National Park with the Katrzrin Archeological Park and the Golan Antiquities Museum in Katzrin.