Crossing the Border
The closest border crossing to Petra is just north of Eilat at what’s called the Arava Crossing. Cross the border early in the morning to avoid waiting in line behind large tour groups and so that you can be in Petra before noon. It's about a two-hour ride to Petra. Expect to pay NIS 109 to exit Israel. When crossing back from Jordan to Israel, bring JD 10 for the Jordanian exit tax.
Americans need a visa to enter Jordan. It can be bought on the spot at Arava Crossing for about JD 40.
Two other border crossings might be convenient if you don't plan to visit Eilat, but both of these options require you to arrange for a visa in advance. The Allenby Bridge Crossing (known in Jordan as the King Hussein Crossing) is about 45 minutes from Jerusalem. From the border it’s a four-hour drive to Petra. The northern Beit She'an Crossing is approximately 40 minutes from Tiberias. Once you’re across it’s a five-hour drive to Petra. Note that you cannot get a visa at these borders, so arrange one in advance at the Jordanian consulate. The exit tax to leave from these crossings is NIS 176.
Regardless of where or how you cross the border, the rules can change, often without any advance notice. We strongly advise anyone planning a trip to Petra to use a knowledgeable and experienced tour operator.