This wildlife sanctuary is hard to beat for sheer natural beauty, and it also contains Tel Dan, an important archaeological site; allow an hour or two for a visit. A river, the Dan Stream, surges through it, and lacy trees provide shade. A host of small mammals lives here—many partial to water, such as the otter and the mongoose—as well as the biblical coney, also known as the hyrax. Tel Dan is home to Israel's largest rodent, the nocturnal Indian crested porcupine, and its smallest predator, the marbled polecat. The reserve has several hiking trails, and a raised wooden walkway is wheelchair accessible.
Dan was a majestic city in biblical times. According to Genesis, Abraham came here to rescue his nephew Lot and, five centuries later, Joshua led the Israelites through the area to victory. Fine ruins from several epochs lie here. Among them are the 9th-century BC city gate and the cultic site where King Jeroboam set up a golden calf to rival the Jerusalem Temple. Just inside the city gate is the platform for a throne, where the city's king pronounced judgment. One of the site's most extraordinary finds is an arched gateway dating from the 18th-century BC Canaanite period, more than a millennium earlier than scholars had previously thought.