Kings Canyon, Australia: Rim Walk Guide
A highlight for visitors to the Red Center of Australia is Kings Canyon located in Watarrka National Park. Travelers can see the awe-inspiring sandstone walls of the canyon, especially while hiking Canyon Rim Walk. Follow our complete hiking guide with extra travel tips on where to stay, what to pack and how to get there.
Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park might be a little overshadowed by Uluru and Kata Tjuta, and even though it is hard to compete with natural wonders of such an extent, while on a road trip through the Australian outback, and heading north after visiting Uluru, you shouldn't miss this place at no cost.
We don't think that visiting Kings Canyon is a detour while you are in the area, especially when you take into consideration vast distances when traveling in Australia overall. To get a better perspective, it took us around 10 days by car to get from Sydney to Kings Canyon (we cheated a little bit and flew from Sydney to Melbourne).
How To Get To Kings Canyon
It takes about 3 to 4 hours (300 km) to get from Uluru to Kings Canyon via a paved Lasseter Highway and then you must take the Luritja Road.
If you have 4WD and looking for an authentic outback experience, then the unsealed road from Alice Springs (or to Alice Springs, it depends from what direction are you coming) will most likely be your choice number one.
We drove to Kings Canyon on asphalt road and arrived earlier than expected, so we decided to go and explore the area and stretch our legs, before sunset. Road tripping in Australia is amazing, but some days we were craving to get out of our car.
The absolute must is hiking the 6 km long (or short) loop, the Canyon Rim Walk and although the beginning might seem tough, we've read that families with young kids or elderly were able to finish the hike (always know your health conditions though and don't push your limits).
WHAT TO PACK FOR HIKING Kings Canyon
Remember the climate is equally harsh as in Uluru area so do not forget sunscreen, sunglasses, hat and lots of water. Sturdy shoes are a must, you don’t need a heavy backpack as this is a half day hike.
KINGS CANYON HIKING GUIDE
Once we quickly climbed the rocky stairs (ok there is 500 stairs, and locals call it Heart Attack Hill, but we promise it won't take you long and it is not that hard as it sounds), we could've enjoyed the beautiful place and unlike in Kata Tjuta National Park, there were no people around.
The beginning is actually the hardest part, and then the path becomes flat, and it is very easy to follow for the rest of this trek although it is not somehow well-signposted.
At the top, we spotted out two Rock Wallabies, nocturnal mammals, who are most active only just before sunrise and around sunset time, so if you want to try your luck, head to the canyon around those particular times.
Not only you might see wallabies as well, but the light around dusk and dawn is incredible, so you'll take much nicer photos plus you will avoid the deadening heat.
The tranquil 360° degree view from the rim of the canyon is hard to describe, and we could alone admire the impressive weathered formations - those sandstone domes you can see from the viewpoint are known as Lost City.
You should follow the walking trail and don't wander off the path as the part of the gorge is sacred to indigenous people. Watarrka National Park has been home to the Luritja Aboriginal people for more than 20 000 years, and we all should act respectfully and be grateful we can visit this place in the first place.
The depth of the canyon is 100 meters, and its steep vertical walls drop down to the bottom of Kings Creek. The level of water pretty much depends on recent rainfall and season.
A short detour from Rim Walk descends to Garden of Eden, the place exceptional mainly because of a permanent waterhole mirroring the lush green plants on its surface. At the place like this (one of the hottest places on earth), we very often wonder how something can grow and thrive in such harsh conditions, but obviously, it is possible.
Then we crossed the bridge across the sacred watering hole and emerged on the top again right at the time to see last sunrays turning the edges of the canyon into light orange and then into dark red. From this point, it is just a short walk around sandstone domes back to the carpark. It is a good idea to take a headtorch with you in case you plan to wait for sunset.
WHERE TO STAY IN Kings Canyon
After the hike, you don't need to drive anywhere after dark, as you can stay in the park. There are just a few accommodation options though, so check always the availability in advance.
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When we got back to the car, it was dark already, and our app showed us there should be a free place to sleep not that far, right behind park's borders, because it is not allowed to camp within the park.
It took us a while to find it as the "campground" was unmarked and hidden behind the bush, and I must admit that I was not a big help to Martin as I did not want to sleep at this abandoned place (surely full of snakes) and I sabotaged the search a little with naive hope that he will give up and we'll find something else.
But unfortunately for me, his navigational skills are too good, and at last, we found the place which was unsurprisingly empty, and so we had (again) a private piece of land where we could spend a night.