The ultimate guide to Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon is the smaller, cooler place to hang out in Australia’s Red Centre rather than Uluru and The Olgas.  This impressive canyon is a spectacular place to go hiking.  The best hike to see the canyon and surroundings is The Kings Canyon Rim Walk.

Watarrka National Park
Watarrka National Park

The location

Kings Canyon is located within the Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory. Watarrka National Park covers a whopping 71,000 hectares of the red centre.

How to get there

The only way to get to Kings Canyon is to hit the road.  You can fly into Alice Springs and then drive 450kms of sealed roads (about 5 hours) or fly into Uluru and drive 3 hours along sealed roads, or for an epic adventure do as we did and take a road trip all the way from Sydney via Melbourne and Adelaide.

As we were driving in from the south, after seeing Uluru and The Olgas in the morning we hit the road and drove all afternoon to camp the night close to Kings Canyon.

Perentie warming up
Perentie warming up

Where to stay

Stay a night at Kings Canyon Resort to get a early start on the hike the following day. The resort has powered and unpowered camping spots as well a lodging rooms. Or opt for a real outback experience at Kings Creek Station 30kms away. The station is a proper Aussie working camel and cattle station. Accommodation options include the usual camping, safari tents or even glamping.

Incredible sunrise reaching the top of Kings Canyon
Incredible sunrise reaching the top of Kings Canyon

The hike

The Kings Canyon Rim Walk is a 5.5 km hike up, along, through and over the canyon which will take around 3.5 hours. For the best views and less heat it’s best to get an early start, ideally to catch sunrise from the top. In any case just aim to complete the walk before 10am when the heat becomes too intense.

Kings Canyon rim
Kings Canyon rim

The first section of the trail leads straight up rock-carved steps to the top of the canyon 100 meters high. At the top the heat, sweat and flies are all worth it when you see the view. You have spectacular views over Watarrka National Park and miles and miles of red earth. The path follows the rim of the canyon looking in the valley below.

From here the path goes down half way into the canyon to a secret oasis, the Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden is a watering hole set within one of the valleys. This is around a 30 minute detour that is definitely worth the effort. And if it’s getting a little hot out there, you can dive straight in!

Cooling off in the Garden of Eden
Cooling off in the Garden of Eden

The rest of the walk continues around the edge of the canyon. Here you can see the layers of different coloured rock lining the canyon walls.

If you don’t have time for the 3.5hr hike you can instead do the Kings Creek Walk which takes half an hour.

Peeking over the top of the canyon
Peeking over the top of the canyon

Tips

Sturdy footwear | You will need a decent pair of walking shoes or hiking boots as you will be scrambling over rocks.

Start early | Aim to be at the top of the canyon before sunrise.

Fly net | Urgh, the flies are the worst out here.  Be prepared with a fly net.

Water and snacks | It is a long walk and it gets incredibly hot so ensure you pack enough water as well as a little snack as you stop mid-way at the Garden of Eden.

Swimwear | On that note, take your swimwear so you can take a dip.  Did you really think you would be swimming in the middle of the outback?!

Be careful | Most importantly, don’t get too close to the edge of the canyon.   It’s a long and expensive journey to the nearest hospital.

Enjoy | Hiking is always one of those experiences you enjoy more afterwards.  Have fun and keep smiling!

The view from the top of Kings Canyon
The view from the top of Kings Canyon

What did you think of my guide to Kings Canyon? Are you planning a trip to the Red Centre or have you visited recently? If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, please leave a comment below.

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