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Kings Canyon

Feel inspired by the soaring sandstone walls of Kings Canyon in Australia's Red Centre.

By Jennifer Ennion

Scale the towering Kings Canyon to catch the sunrise across Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory. Watarrka National Park covers 71,000 hectares (274 square miles) and has been home to the Luritja Aboriginal people for more than 20,000 years. Learn about their role in shaping the area and the more than 600 species of native plants and animals that live here, on one of many guided tours.

Don't miss

  • Catch the sunrise from atop Kings Canyon
  • Dine under the stars at Kings Canyon Resort
  • Take a helicopter flight over Watarrka National Park

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Top things to do in and around Kings Canyon

Dust off your hiking boots

Rise before the heat and watch the sun come up from the top of Kings Canyon. Allow at least four hours to tackle the challenging six kilometre (3.7 mile) Kings Canyon Rim Walk, with its spectacular views of the gorge and surrounding landscape below. Opt for a guided walk with an Aboriginal elder and learn about the significance of the area to its traditional owners. Nearby Kings Canyon Resort offers guided tours, and AAT Kings runs a day tour out of nearby Ayers Rock Resort. Experienced hikers will relish the challenge of the self-guided 22 kilometre (13.7 mile) Giles Track that leads from Kings Canyon to Kathleen Springs.

Sleep in the Outback

There are a handful of great properties where you can rest your head not far from Kings Canyon. Kings Creek Station, an operational camel and cattle station, has camping, glamping and safari cabins, and you can request dinner under the stars. You can also enjoy a romantic five-course dinner under moonlight while staying at Kings Canyon Resort. The resort's Under a Desert Moon experience is held four nights a week between April and October. Kings Canyon Resort has standard and spa rooms in the hotel, as well as caravan and camp sites in a holiday park.

Fill up your tank and go on tour

The Northern Territory is a popular self-drive destination and, as a result, there are some great touring routes. The Red Centre Way takes about five days to drive, with stops at Alice Springs, Uluru and Kings Canyon. Make time to swim in Glen Helen Gorge and look for rock wallabies at Simpsons Gap in the West MacDonnell Ranges. If you don't want to drive, Wayoutback Australian Safaris has multi-day, four-wheel-drive Red Centre tours that include Kings Canyon, as well as some lesser-known attractions. World Expeditions also has a two-day Uluru and Kings Canyon tour, which includes a stop at Kata Tjuta.

Fly high

Enjoy a bird's eye view of Kings Canyon and Watarrka National Park on a scenic helicopter flight out of Kings Creek Station. The flight takes in breathtaking mountain Carmichael Crag, as well as the Garden of Eden and Kathleen Springs. Kings Creek Station also runs quad bike tours over the red sand dunes. If you prefer to fly high in a light plane instead of a helicopter, check out Australian Explorer which has flights that soar over Lake Amadeus (a large salt lake), Kings Canyon and Gosses Bluff (a crater that's five kilometres [three miles] in diameter).

How to get there

Kings Canyon is part of Watarrka National Park, in the southwestern corner of the Northern Territory. The park is 450 kilometres (280 miles) from Alice Springs and the best way to get there is by car along the Stuart or Lasseter Highways or Luritja Road, all of which are sealed.

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