January 1st 2015
Mount Carmel, known in Hebrew as Har Carmel, is not a single mountain. Rather, it is a coastal mountain range located in the north of Israel. The mountain range is nearly five miles wide at its widest point. A number of important cities, including Haifa, Zichron Yaakov and the high-tech city of Yokneam are located on Mount Carmel. The Ein Hod Artist Colony, where 500 resident artists open their homes and galleries to visitors, is located on the lower slopes of Mount Carmel.
Mount Carmel has sites of religious significance to many different faiths. For Jews and Christians, it is the location of the Cave of Elijah, the Biblical prophet who brought down fire from heaven and defeated the prophets of the idol Ba’al. For Catholics, Mount Carmel is the original home of the Carmelite religious order. For Muslims, Mount Carmel is the location of the largest mosque belonging to the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. The mosque’s architecture, with two minarets, is distinctive. And Mount Carmel is also the location of the world-famous Bahá’í Gardens and a sacred destination for Bahá’ís from around the world.
With nearly 21,000 acres, the Mount Carmel National Park and Nature Reserve is Israel’s largest park. Two-thirds of the land is devoted to the nature reserve where certain animal species that were all but extinct in the region are being reintroduced. Pine, eucalyptus and cypress trees predominate in the park and, no matter when you visit, the park will be green.
Scenic bicycle and hiking trails are well-marked. Some are handicapped accessible. Bring your camera, because from these trails, you’ll be able to glimpse captivating views of the Mediterranean Sea and the upper Galilee. If you’d like to camp out in the park overnight, a very modest fee will enable you to do so.
You can enter the park from the west, the south, the north or the northeast. Wherever you enter and begin your exploration, you won’t be far from a rest area. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority installed dozens of rest areas with sinks, toilets and running water. They are working on making more of them handicapped accessible. The national park also features picnic areas, playgrounds and a restaurant. Don’t miss the Druze hospitality center where you can sample tea and distinctive breads baked and served in the Druze tradition.