These Canyons of Jordan Will Get Your Blood Pumping

Get ready for adventure, we’re headed east—like way east—to the Middle Eastern country of Jordan. Rich in history and culture this desert destination is full of stoke-worthy canyons, ancient ruins, spectacular cliffs, and other-worldly landscapes guaranteed to give you an adrenaline rush.

Jordan is bordered by Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the West Bank, and also has frontage on the famous Dead Sea—the lowest point on earth. Even its bustling capital city, Annam, has opportunities to view ancient ruins in the heart of downtown and cultural wonders at surrounding museums. Fly into Queen Alia International Airport to be totally central for your Jordan adventure.

Make the most of your Jordan trip by planning ahead, and making sure you get the full canyon experience in more than one of the region’s 10,000+ archeological sites and some of the richest history in the Middle East.

Traveling In Jordan

Exploration and canyoning trips are some of the most sought-after tourist attractions in Jordan drawing nearly 1 million visitors in 2020. While there are some areas in the Middle East that aren’t always advisable for travel, Jordan is considered one of the more progressive countries in the region. Like any destination, you want to know before you go and keep your guard up, but rest assured that when you’re prepared and aware, Jordan is a totally safe destination to travel to as a woman.

Best Places For Canyoning In Jordan

The spectacular canyons of Jordan are unmatched gems dotted among the picturesque desert rivaling sites like Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park and Utah’s Zion Canyon. Thrill seekers from around the world find magic among the spectacular scenery of the red sandstone cliffs and winding canyons.

The country’s biggest natural attractions, these canyons are a must-see on any Jordan visit:

  • The Ancient City of Petra
  • The Canyon at Wadi Rum
  • The Mujib Biosphere Reserve and Wadi Mujib
  • Wadi al Hasa
  • Wadi Zarqa Ma’in
  • Wadi Bin Hammad

The Ancient City of Petra

ancient city of Petra
Explorer Chicks exploring the ancient city of Petra in Jordan

Carved from stone in hues of pink and orange, the ancient city of Petra is also called the “rose city” because of its characteristically colored canyon walls. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, described as one of the “most precious cultural properties of man’s heritage.”

To reach Petra, you’ll hike the most popular trail through a narrow canyon known as Al Siq Trail, through a narrow gorge that gives access to the age-old city.

  • Activities: Hiking is the main activity here, with networks of paths roaming through the old city past royal tombs and Roman ruins, with plenty of opportunities for side trips and countless archeological sites to see along your route. Camel and donkey rides are also available.
  • Who this is for: Since the ruins at Petra allow you to choose your own adventure, this is a great destination for different fitness levels. Plan for a full day hike, but at a minimum, you’ll need to be able to walk at least two miles round trip from the town of Wadi Musa to Petra’s main attraction, the Treasury—about an hour-long hike.

The Canyons of Wadi Rum

Views of the Wadi Rum canyon by camelback
Views of the canyon by camelback

The canyons at Wadi Rum in the Wadi Rum Desert are known as “The Valley of the Moon” due to the area’s unique landscape, reminiscent of—you guessed it—the moon! These canyons are some of the most culturally significant in Jordan, with over 20,000 petroglyphs and inscriptions giving insight into human existence as long as 12,000 years ago.

Carved into the sandstone rock of southern Jordan, Wadi Rum is a protected area, and making the day trip here lets you choose from activities like camel rides, 4×4 jeeping, bouldering huge rock formations, and camping under the unspoiled stars.

You’ll feel like you’ve stepped onto another planet when you enter the desert’s towering dunes and striking cliff faces.

  • Activities: Camel rides, 4×4 jeeping, bouldering huge rock formations, and camping under the unspoiled stars.
  • Who this is for: Anyone can adventure here with so many activities to choose from, but keep in mind that hiking in the desert requires a certain level of fitness and PLENTY of extra water bottles.

Wadi Al Hidan Valley

Located outside the city of Madaba, the Wadi Al Hidan River Valley is one of the most unique (and popular) tourist attractions in Jordan. Views of black basalt rocks forming intricate canyon structures and canyon trails and rivers that lead into Wadi Mujib and eventually to the Dead Sea at ~1,410 feet below sea level.

The valley is filled with deep pools of fresh water formed in the many canyons and surrounded by lush, green plant life. To hike and explore the narrow gorges and visit the secret world of this desert oasis, you’ll need to book a guided tour with a minimum of five people.

  • Best time to visit: High risks of flash floods in the colder months make the best time of year to visit anywhere along the Hidan River from April the October.
  • Who this is for: This adventure is for people with full mobility, who aren’t pregnant, and are 14+ years of age.

The Mujib Biosphere Reserve and Wadi Mujib

The lowest nature reserve on Earth, the Mujib Biosphere Reserve includes towering sandstone walls and the mighty Mujib River, emptying into the famed Dead Sea.

The absolutely enchanting canyon at Wadi Mujib stands high above the river, and the reserve is surrounded by rocky terrain and borders the coast of the Red Sea. The reserve is home to over 300 different plant species, migratory birds, and rare carnivores.

Canyoning in Wadi Mujib is serious business, and hiking the canyon trail requires a guided tour, special gear (like a life jacket), and the ability to rappelling down a large waterfall along the popular Ibex Trail or Malaqi Trail before the hike continues upstream.

  • Best time to visit: The best time to visit Wadi Mujib is from April to October when all of the trails in the reserve are open and the water is warmest.
  • Who this is for: Wadi Mujib Canyoning isn’t for the faint of heart, and it also isn’t suitable for children, those who are pregnant, or those who have back problems or mobility issues.

Wadi al Hasa

Known as Jordan’s natural water park and the largest canyon in Jordan, Wadi al Hasa has all the stoke to really get your adrenaline pumping. This place is a must-see when you travel to Jordan! You’ll have the chance to climb, scramble, jump, dive, and rappel in this incredible 25-mile-long canyon.

Located along the southern valley of the Dead Sea, Wadi al Hasa is Begin the canyon trail in the small village along the Dead Sea Highway. Be prepared to get wet! Depending on the season, the water levels on the trail may be high enough to reach your waste. Pack the water shoes and waterproof camera, for sure.

You’ll find Wadi al Hasa Canyon filled with streams, waterfalls, and hidden hot springs said to be filled with natural minerals and healing powers. Spend the day relaxing among these dreamy pools after visiting numerous color-changing waterfalls along the canyon trail.

Since the streams of the Wadi al Hasa Canyon Trail move you along without effort, a ton of hiking experience isn’t required to enjoy this area. Full-day and half-day tours are available with a trusted guide.

  • Best time to visit: The major consideration is the water levels throughout the year. Since Wadi al Hasa is a large river, water levels can get high (and cold) during the rainy season. The rainy season in Jordan begins at the end of November and goes through end of March.
  • Who this is for: This hike is best for those 18+, who aren’t pregnant, and have no mobility issues.

Wadi Zarqa Ma’in Waterfalls

Wadi Zarqa Ma’in Canyon is unique because of its black basalt stones and white limestone features, providing a striking contrast for visitors to witness. One of its most notable features is its 115-foot waterfall which plunges into a large pool of fresh water, perfect for dipping, swimming, and enjoying a picnic on the shore.

Visiting this canyon is best done on a guided tour, and most tours include recommended hiking gear rentals as well as guided instruction for the entire canyoning experience. Always check water levels before embarking on a hike in this canyon, as flash floods can happen here in the blink of an eye when sudden rainfall is expected.

  • Activities: Hiking to the waterfalls and swimming in the pools around the base of the waterfall are the most fun activities in this canyoning experience.
  • Who this is for: This hike is relatively easy and only an hour’s drive from Amman, but best for adults who aren’t pregnant and have full physical mobility, though children over 6 years are usually able to complete this hike as well.

Wadi Bin Hammad

Accessed from the city of Kerak, Wadi Bin Hammad Canyon is famous for its impressive crusader castle constructed in the 1140s AD. Kerak Castle is absolutely worth a visit when you come through the city, but check operating hours since they change depending on the season.

Leaving the city, the drive down narrow mountain roads leads to stellar views that overlook the valley, filled with hanging gardens, sandstone rock formations, and finally the Wadi Bin Hammad Canyon itself with a rainforest oasis surrounding.

Hidden in a deep, secluded valley, Wadi Bin Hammad’s unique tropical rainforest climate is full of greenery and lush plant life, palm trees, and streams running plenty of water through the cracks and crevasses of the canyon walls. Discover one of Jordan’s secret natural treasures on this accessible trek.

The water is warm and the trail is described as fun and easy, taking about 1.5 hours to the furthest point you can travel without a guide. Wear good shoes and step carefully, this trail is obviously wet!

  • Activities: The hot springs at Wadi Bin Hammad are a major attraction for tourists visiting Jordan, and the canyon tour here is boasted as one of the most beautiful canyoning tours in the country.
  • Who this is for: This canyon is a relatively easy walk and suitable for families with children, even though the trail requires a little water walking.

Ready to Explore the Canyons of Jordan?

Head spinning with inspiration yet? Yeah, we know there’s a LOT to see in Jordan!

Wanna link up with a group of wild women who are ready to take the leap on the trip of a lifetime? Our Ultimate Jordan and Petra Tour is designed to get your a** amongst it with 8 days in the divine desert canyons.

Explorer Chick has expertly crafted the perfect itinerary for a tour of Jordan’s canyons, where we take care of all the planning from accommodations, meals, and transportation to incredible canyons, ancient ruins, and Insta-worthy swimming spots near the Dana Nature Reserve.

Trek jaw-dropping sections of the Jordan Trail and arrive in Little Petra for an exclusive ruins experience. Glamp under the stars one night and stay in a cozy eco-lodge with your new best travel buds. Visit the ancient ruins of Petra and check the 9-mile trek off your bucket list before our super secret guide gives us an exclusive tour—don’t tell the other tourists.

Book now to secure your spot for our epic guided tour of Jordan!

Meet the Writer

April Brightman

April is an adventure lover and freelance writer based in New England, with a passion for public lands, wild places, and all things outdoors. She loves camping in any form and spends as many weekends as she can hiking New Hampshire’s highest peaks, or road-tripping with her sweet dog Marley. If not in the mountains, you can find her planning her next expedition or caring for one of her far-too-many-houseplants.

Favorite outdoor adventure: National Parks Hiking and Road Trips!

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