The weather in Saudi Arabia is amazing during the winter months and perfect for making day trips out to the surrounding desert. Rawdat Khuraim, also called the King’s Forest, is an easily accessible and pleasant ‘getaway’ from the hustle and bustle of Riyadh. It really is like a green oasis suddenly appearing from the desert. And the best part? Even though it’s literally in the middle of nowhere; you don’t need an SUV to reach it!
For more day trip ideas and desert treks from Riyadh, click here!
Read more about things to do (and not to do!) at the King’s Forest in Blue Abaya’s full guide to Rawdhat Khuraim.
Rawdat (which means garden in Arabic) Khuraim is a beautiful and serene park about 100km North from Riyadh. It’s called the ‘King’s Forest’ mainly because King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz has a private farm there where he usually goes for a “spring retreat”. When he was still Crown Prince, King Abdullah inaugurated the Rawdat Khuraim wildlife park back in 2005. Today, the area serves as a sanctuary for various rare species such as gazelles and is a haven for ornithologists! Riyadh universities often conduct studies and research in the Rawdhat due to the diversity of insects, flora and fauna which can be found there.
The ‘forest’ is divided into the area accessible to public and the wildlife park which has been restricted from entry in order to preserve the nature and wildlife. The area meant for public is less green and lush than the part which is off limits but nevertheless it is a wonderful change of scenery from the sand and cement.
The Al-Dahna desert sand dunes can be seen from the park and a number of valleys are nearby such as Wadi Khuwaish and Watheelan which are easily accessible and make for an interesting visit.
The public area is huge and grows a variety of trees, bushes, flowers and other vegetation year round. In the springtime, when the Rawdhat is in full bloom, flowers such as Lavender and Three leaf clover fill the air with their sweet scent. There’s an estimated 132 species of wild plants and 42 species of animals present in Rawdat Khuraim, some of which have been released into the wildlife sanctuary.
The public park has a pole fence all the way around it and the best parts are accessible by foot only. The area inside is clean and free of trash, which is unfortunately a rarity for picnic places in Saudi. It’s a lovely place to go walking, bird watching or just for a picnic and women can take their abayas off if they so wish. There are large green grass fields perfect for football and other outdoor games. On a weekday you can have the entire place to yourself.Overnight camping is not allowed inside the fenced area but on the outskirts it’s OK to pitch a tent and overnight there. Visitors should leave from inside the park before 10 p.m when the rangers start roaming the area.
If you want to make a campfire it’s strictly forbidden to use the forests trees as firewood. On the way there’s roadside vendors selling firewood, charcoal and small fire pits. You will also find kites, toys, blankets, pillows, snacks, water and basically everything you would need to have a picnic. There’s even a tent renting service and on weekends a few Bedouin women come to sell traditional handicrafts and goat milk products.
Directions: From Riyadh take the Dammam highway (route 40E) toward Rumah. After about 40 km turn left to Rumah. Then drive another 55km and you will see signs for Rawdhat Khuraim on the right. Follow the signs and the gardens are easy to spot from the highway ahead of you.
Drive towards garden on the tarmac road and turn right or left off that road to enter the area. if you continue straight on this road, it leads to the gates of the King’s farm and the preservation area which are closed off from public with barbwire fences. To the left of this road you can see Dahna sand dunes. Drive closer to the pole fence and park the car (accessible with a regular car) and then you must continue on foot to reach the best areas.
Lots of locals don’t even bother to walk beyond the fences, so it might seem crowded around the fences. Don’t be discouraged by the crowd, just a few minutes walk away from the fence and you will find yourself the only people around.
For the most quiet places drive off to the right from the road, around to the back of the area beside the fence until you see a nice spot. The forest is so huge you can drive for half an hour along the fence and still not see an end to the park. Alternatively you can go left from the road next to the red sand dunes but this place usually is more crowded because it’s easier to reach. You can drive here with a normal car but if you wish to venture further you will need a 4×4,
For the GPS location and Google maps check out this post.
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Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010. Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 75 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia! Follow my adventures in Saudi and beyond on instagram: instagram.com/blueabaya
Hi.. Are barbecues allowed?
I am guessing it is.. Just confirming…
Washrooms n stuff?
Hi there, yes BBQ’s are allowed, however this is a natural habitat so there are no washrooms and people are expected to respect the environment and pick up and take trash out of the area with them.
Thanks for your reply.. Your blogs are really informative.. Being busy in work left my exploration hobby aside, but thanks to your articles we get to know so many things about the kingdom..
Just one more thing, how far will the nearest washroom & bakala be?
I am concerned about taking my family (parents) along, so just need to be sure..
In Riyadh? lol it’s really out there, but I’m sure you will enjoy it and they can always use the ‘nature toilet’ ahem..you can buy snacks and water on the road next to it.
This is fantastic – you should propose this as a feature article for Saudi Aramco World magazine. E-mail me if you want the contact info. I don’t think anyone’s written about it as far as I know.
What happend to Sinita?? We are waiting……/S Susan
I am so sorry it’s been dragging on this long, I’ve been so busy on a few other things, you will see soon what was taking all my time ;)
Ah! NOW I am really curious!! /S Susan
We travelled there today from Riyadh and found the road leading to the forest blocked by guards due to the King being on site at his farm. We were only allowed to venture on the outskirts of the park to the left hand side as you approach the forest. There were regular patrols by armoured cars and the guards told us to keep away from the fenced area. It was a bit disappointing as we couldn’t experience the grass and trees shown in your pictures. We plan to travel back there in January 2014.
Many thanks for your informative article.
Thank you and welcome to the blog!
Wa aleikum salaam, Thank you Haji for the kind words!
I’ve had the pleasure to visit Malaysia and I loved it so much I will surely return again one day :)
[…] highway and Thumamah sand dunes and park in the North. For further expeditions out of the city try Rawdhat Khuraim, Red Sands or Lake […]
Thank you Layla,
For providing such useful information about the kingdom! I love to visit this place. Can you provide the GPS coordinates for this place please. Really appreciated
Any one can share location or GPS Coordinates ?
Hi there, I’ve added the link to the post where you can find the co-ordinates and map!
[…] Rawdat Khuraim-An Oasis in the Saudi Desert. Directions and GPS Co-ordinates to Rawdat Khuraim (also spelled Rawdhat Koraim/ Rawdhat Kuraim) can be found at the end of this post! More information about this desert oasis, also known as the King’s Forest, can be found here: Rawdhat Khuriam-The King’s Forest. […]
[…] The desert has surprisingly lush vegetation, especially on a rainy year you will find many flowers and green areas. There are several areas called “Rawdhat” (garden in Arabic) just outside Riyadh which have vegetation year round. One of the largest one’s is called Rawdat Kuraim, also known as the King’s Forest. […]
Is this place still accessible to public?
Yes it is. There’s always been a part which is restricted form public, that belongs to the King. I’ts clearly marked with a large gate and security, you can’t go wrong :)
is there any website can hep to find nice attractive sight seeing places in Riyadh area?
Yes there is, this one :)
I went to this place on 4th January 2019. It was superb area with superb view . Thanks for BlueAbaya admin. Quite easy to find.
I don’t understand why people lost their way. There was clear signboard stated the way. Plus you can find it easily using Google Maps.
Hi Noor Azam, Is it still accessible by normal car?
Hello Dear, are you really visiting this site on a regular basis, if so then you will absolutely obtain good know-how.