The legendary biblical city of Sodom was located on a hill southwest of the Dead Sea in southern Israel’s the Judaean Desert. In the Bible, God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their sinfulness. God rained down brimstone and fire on the cities, while the only righteous man in Sodom, Lot escaped with his wife and daughters. As they ran from the Sodom, Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. Sodom and Gomorrah became synonymous with desolation and destruction.
History of Mount Sodom
The mount was born from the movements of the Great Rift Valley system and the accumulation of earth and rock which was compressed over thousands of years, burying layers of salt and creating the mount. Because of the weathering over the years, some of the rocks have separated forming stone pillars. One of these stands on the roadside, and has been nicknamed “Lot’s Wife.”
Today tourists can visit the site of Sodom, not far from the shore of the Dead Sea. Present-day Mount Sodom in the Plain of Sdom consists of about 80% salt with underground salt caves and a unique mineral-rich rocky landscape unlike any other.
The special rock formations at Sodom have streaks of bright white salt and the underlying salt is covered by a thin layer of limestone and clay. Sodom rises 260m (853ft) above the Dead Sea and the mountain continues to grow at a rate of 3.5cm (0.14”) each year. Nearby are a few desert springs and the agricultural villages of Ein Tamar and Neot HaKikar.
You can take a hiking excursion at Sodom from the Dead Sea tourist area of Ein Bokek. There are several hiking trails including a 10.5km and a 7.5km hike. The hikes require some climbing including a steep descent from Mount Sodom on several metal ladders.
For safety, it is best to follow the hike trails with a guide. Blue and red markers show hikers the trail routes that take you over the plateau summit of Sodom. The views are breathtaking, and you can see across the Dead Sea to the Moav Mountains and the Kingdom of Jordan.
Sodom Salt Caves
Below ground level lies about 150 caves containing incredible salt formations; this is the world’s largest concentration of salt caves. The caves are in constant danger of collapsing, and so most of them are not open to the public.
It is possible to explore the caves by rappelling with an experienced guide. Looking out from Mount Sodom across the dry salty landscape to the Dead Sea, it is easy to imagine this as the setting for the biblical destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
If you are interested in a tour to Mount Sodom, book one of our Dead Sea Private tours and we will customize it for you.