Natural forces

The shifting sands of time have shaped AlUla for almost a billion years and nowhere is this remarkable history more palpable than its stunning rock formations. Wherever the eye falls at AlUla, there is a geological wonder ready to tell its story and take you back in time.

The Arch

One of AlUla’s most recognizable rock formations, The Arch (also known as Rainbow Rock) is well worth the 90-minute drive from the centre of the city. Its bridge-shaped structure, which resembles a rainbow flanked by two clouds, is a rare sight indeed. Though you will be enthralled by this sprawling display of sandstone, don’t miss spotting semi-precious desert diamonds on-site. You can eye these multi-coloured pieces of quartz embedded in the rock itself and scattered on the surrounding ground.

Jabal Alfil

Also known as Elephant Rock, this formation has captured the imagination of keen photographers the world over. As the name suggests, this red sandstone marvel is shaped like an elephant with a distinctive ‘trunk’ and ‘body’ – the result of millions of years of wind and water erosion. It’s a popular camping spot, especially during festivals when the structure is bathed in light and campers can take the chance to ride a horse or camel, keep warm by the firepits, and dine on delights from the pop-up eateries.


About an hour outside of the city centre, discover dark, thin pillars of stone stretching up to the sky. This is Gharameel. You’ll need to go off-road to reach the site, so we recommend hiring an experienced driver with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Your reward is a view unlike any other, made even more dramatic at night when AlUla’s dark skies showcase a brilliant display of stars above the rocks. Stargazing packages welcome you to gaze at Gharameel’s stone pillars and follow their spires upward toward the twinkling stars.

Dancing Rocks

Visit the Dancing Rocks, so-called because these formations are sculpted by nature to appear as if they are swaying in unison. Located in the Raggasat Valley, the rocks seem to dance together, slightly removed from the surrounding rock formations. Appreciate the Dancing Rocks and others that extend as far as the eye can see, and plan a hike or dune buggy experience on-site. You can reach Dancing Rocks in 45 minutes from the city centre; hiring an experienced driver with a four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended.

Face Rock

Amongst the monumental tombs of Hegra, next to Jabal AlAhmar, you will notice a formation that resembles the profile of a human head gazing out over the desert landscape. Marvelling at (and taking pictures of) Face Rock is a must for any visitor to Hegra. As with all of AlUla’s rock formations, sunrise and sunset are prime times to visit, when the light plays on the sandstone, seeming to illuminate the rocks from within — a magical sight for observers and photographers alike.

Jar Rock

Millions of years of erosion have formed an opening in one of AlUla’s signature sandstone outcrops. The effect is a jar sculpted by nature; though some say it resembles a bottle or bowling pin. Decide for yourself when you visit “Jabal Jarrah.” For access, make your way via SUV to Elephant Rock, then hike to Jar Rock for views of Elephant Rock and its valley, mountain and farm views. Because there are no parking or facilities at Jar Rock, and the hike includes slippery rocks and a steep drop from the “jar,” this experience is not recommended for children.

Date palm trees also provide materials to create shade and windbreaks, build shelter, and make rope, fencing, furniture, baskets and even jewellery.

AlUla Skies

10 Apr - 20 Apr 2024

During the day, hot air balloons and helicopters offer spectacular flights over AlUla's breathtaking scenery. And come nightfall, you can return to earth for the likes of stargazing, symphonies and drone shows that will add to some unforgettable memories.

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