Capped with snow throughout the winter months and cloaked with wildflowers through the summer, the rocky plateaus and lush valleys of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains provide a striking backdrop for hiking and mountain biking treks, as well as cultural visits to Morocco’s remaining Berber tribes. Sprawling along the frontier of the Sahara, the range runs from the Atlantic coast to the northern Rif Mountains.
The vast mountain range is split into three main regions: the centrally located High Atlas, the Middle Atlas to the north, and the remote Anti Atlas, tucked away in the south. Easily reached from Marrakech, the High Atlas range draws many visitors, with hotels clustered around popular spots like the picturesque Ourika Valley, Ouirgane, and Imlil. It’s also home to the 13,671-foot (4,167-meter) Mount Toubkal, Morocco’s highest peak. For many, a stay in the High Atlas Mountains is a pit stop en route to Ouarzazate, the launch pad for camping tours and desert camel treks. Experience the grandeur of the Atlas Mountains on a day trip from Marrakech, which might include activities such as quad biking, hot air ballooning, or a visit to a Berber village.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Atlas Mountains are a must-see for adventure travelers and outdoor enthusiasts.
- Choose among day trips from Marrakech or multi-day itineraries through the mountains and into the Sahara.
- Remember to bring sunscreen, water, and a hat, as shade is scarce in the Atlas Mountains.
- Day trips to the Atlas Mountains from Marrakech can last upwards of 12 hours.
How to Get There
The easiest way to experience the Atlas Mountains is on a guided tour that offers round-trip transportation from a city such as Marrakech, Fez, or Agadir.
When to Get There
For most travelers, the best time for a trip into the Atlas Mountains is March through November. While summers can be hot, temperatures in the Atlas Mountains are cooler than in the Moroccan lowlands. Mountain snow is usual from mid-January to mid-February, making this an excellent time for skiing in North Africa. Note that some businesses will be closed during Ramadan.
Highlights of the Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains are dotted with interesting places to explore. Azzaden Valley is a quieter alternative to neighboring Imlil Valley and a popular base for guided treks. Dades Gorge, famous for growing Damascus roses, is a favorite destination for climbers, hikers, and white-water rafters. The rivers of the Middle Atlas feed the beautiful Ouzoud Falls, while Ifrane, the gateway town of the region, looks right out of the French Alps.