Get lost in the magic of Kings Canyon with its plunging red cliffs, vast plateaus, rocky chasms and hidden gardens.

If Uluru is at the top of your Red Centre bucket list, make sure you leave space for Kings Canyon. Nestled in the heart of the Outback, Watarrka National Park has been home to the Luritja and Pertame peoples (the traditional owners) for over 20,000 years and is brimming with culturally sacred sights and views that'll make you feel like the king of the world. Hike to the top of the rim to marvel at soul-stirring vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see, explore the otherworldly rock domes of the Lost City, and climb down to the Garden of Eden on the canyon floor to discover a dreamy oasis. You'll also have the opportunity to experience a Welcome to Country ceremony and learn about traditional bushtucker and medicine with a Luritja guide.

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Highlights of Kings Canyon

A Karrke First Nations experience in Watarrka National Park

Experience a Welcome to Country

The Luritja and Pertame people are the Traditional Owners of Watarrka National Park and have called these spectacular lands home for more than 20,000 years. What better way to kick off your Kings Canyon adventure a traditional Welcome to Country ceremony. Not only will you be able to acknowledge the sacred lands on which you find yourself on, but it's also a chance to connect with the traditional custodians and experience the richness of this First Nations culture.

A group of travellers hiking in Kings Canyon

Hike around the rim of Kings Canyon

Lace-up your hiking boots and set off to explore the incredible sights, colours and textures of the Kings Canyon rim. Climb through narrow sun-drenched rock passages up to the clifftop where you can marvel at the sheer drops that plummet down to the canyon floor, or lose yourself in the beauty of the Lost City – a vast landscape littered with rock domes that resemble ancient dwellings. You might even feel like testing out your singing skills in a natural amphitheatre where you'll hear the echo of your voice bounce off the walls.

A platter of native-inspired food in Australia's Red Centre

Dine under the outback skies

Enjoy a five-course dining experience in the heart of the Kings Canyon wilderness. The outback-inspired menu uses locally sourced ingredients and native herbs only found in Watarrka National Park, making it a truly unique dining experience that you won't find anywhere else. Start with some canapes as you watch the sunset paint the sky in different shades of pink and orange, followed by your entree, main course and dessert served under the glittering night sky.

The lush Garden of Eden in Kings Canyon, Northern Territory

Explore the Garden of Eden

After admiring the views from the top of the canyon rim, it's time to swap the sun-drenched scenery for the dreamy Garden of Eden. Hidden deep within the rocky crevices, this permanent watering hole is teeming with huge cycads, rare plants and diverse native wildlife. The watering hole is a highly sacred men's place for the Luritja and Pertame, and while you can't swim here, simply witnessing this desert oasis will leave you in awe. If you look carefully, you might see fossilised ripples of the once-sandy ocean floor.

A Kaarka First Nations cultural experience

Learn about Luritja and Pertame culture

Join a local Luritja guide on a guided bushwalk to learn about traditional bush tucker and native plants used for a range of healing purposes. The bush tucker and plants vary from season to season, but you might find yourself extracting witchetty grubs from acacia tree roots or foraging for edible seeds and flowers. You'll also discover how rocks and stones are used to grind plant medicines, how natural materials are used to make weapons and how the Luritja and Pertame hunt for wildlife.

Sunset at Kings Canyon in the Northern Territory

Watch a Kings Canyon sunset

No trip to Kings Canyon is complete without watching the sunset. Head to a perfectly positioned sunset viewing platform to see the magnificent rocky landscapes glow in the last bit of daylight. As the sun gradually disappears behind Carmichael's Crag and the George Gill Range, the skies above the canyon erupt in vibrant shades of red, orange, pink and purple. Grab a cold one from the pop-up caravan bar and raise a toast to an epic day with your new travel pals.

Kings Canyon tour reviews

Kings Canyon FAQs

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises). However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid's COVID-19 proof of vaccination policy

Most of our Kings Canyon tours start in Alice Springs or Yulara. Yulara Airport (Ayers Rock/Connellan Airport) operates flights to/from Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne, Alice Springs and several other cities in Australia. However, you might find it easier to fly into Alice Springs Airport as there are more flights. 

If you’re travelling by car, you can drive to Alice Springs via the Stuart Highway which runs from Darwin in the Northern Territory and Port Augusta in South Australia. You can then turn onto the Red Centre Way loop that connects Alice Springs with Tjoritja/West MacDonnell Ranges, Watarrka/Kings Canyon and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Greyhound also operates a bus to Alice Springs from Adelaide if you don't fancy driving. The journey takes around 20 hours and stops at Port Augusta, Coober Pedy and several other iconic spots along the way. However, flying might be a better option if you don't have much time.

Learn more about how to get to Kings Canyon

The climate in Kings Canyon is semi-arid with hot summers and mild winters. Although the days are warm and sunny throughout the year, the temperature variation differs considerably between night and day, particularly in winter when the temperature can drop to just above zero at night. Rainfall is very low throughout the year compared to other parts of the Northern Territory with an average of just 3.9 mm of rain in January (the wettest month).

Find out the best time to visit Kings Canyon

A Kings Canyon tour usually involves a fair bit of walking, so make sure you bring a comfy pair of walking boots or runners. You’ll also need long pants or leggings, shorts, t-shirts and a couple of long-sleeved shirts (long sleeves can help prevent sunburn and pesky insect bites). It’s sunny all year round, so a wide sun hat (ideally that covers the head and neck), sunglasses, sunscreen and lip balm with SPF are essential. It can get cold at night, particularly in the winter, so you’ll need a warm fleece, a jacket and a woolly hat. Lastly, don’t forget to bring a reusable water bottle and a small day bag to carry your essentials.   

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Learn more about Accessible Travel with Intrepid

Read more about the Northern Territory