Absolutely - you must hike Kings Canyon Rim Walk.
Let's face it, when you are travelling Australia's Northern Territory, the long distances to reach the Red Centre, it would be crazy not to add this destination to your itinerary. Kings Canyon in our opinion is a must!
The drive into the Watarrka National Park is spectacular. We came from Uluru and enjoyed the changing landscape and vastness of the land. We arrived at Kings Canyon Resort late in the day and it was very hot, we decided to wait until the cool of the next day to tackle the rim walk.
#1 Tip: Hike the Canyon in the cool of the morning. The climb closes once the temperature reaches 38 degrees.
We started our walk early in the morning, around 6.45amb and we were pleased with this decision as the temperature reached 30 degrees by 9am. As we arrived at the site, we were well prepared for the climb...well we thought we were! Wow, the first part of the walk is to climb the steep rocky staircase made up of 500+ steps. It was tough! We are not embarrassed to say we stopped many times (I think we went too hard at the start).
#2 Tip for prospective hikers...take your time, stop and rest, take in the views but keep going! This is the hardest part of the hike.
Once we reached the top, the views were spectacular and the vertical drops to the canyon floor were breathtaking. At each turn, there was something interesting to explore, like Priscilla’s Crack (made famous by the classic Australian movie Priscilla Queen of the Desert), the weathered domes of 'The Lost City' and the Garden of Eden. Bridges, staircases and lookouts are placed along the walk to get to the most interesting places, offering panoramic views to take that iconic shot.
#3 Tip: Stop and enjoy the views. Spend as much time as you can in each area without rushing.
The 440 million-year-old red canyon rises 270 metres above sea level with a plateau of rocky domes. It plummets to an oasis of natural rock pools and native flora and fauna. We sat and watched birds and wallabies in their natural environment. The extraordinary beauty of the Canyon is unforgettable.
The magnificent space over the Canyon made us feel incredibly small. We marvelled at our place in time and how so many people had been here before us.
#4 Tip: Kings Canyon is an absolute must.
Some say it's better than Uluru! Now that's a big call as they are completely different, but that's what is so great about this country.
We took on the challenge of the Rim walk, however, Kings Canyon can be explored through several different walks. Choose one or stay a few days and do them all.
Kathleen Springs Walk
This walk is a sealed track without markers. It is an easy walk for most people. There is wheelchair access for this walk.
Distance - 2.4km return
Time - Around 1.5 hours
Grade - Grade 1 - easy (disabled access)
Kings Creek Walk
This walk is marked with red markers. It is a suitable walk for those seeking an easy walk.
Distance - 2.6km return
Time - Around 1 hour
Grade - Grade 2 - easy
South Wall Return
This walk is marked with green arrows to the gate and blue arrows back. It starts with a steep climb to the south wall of Kings Canyon. You must start the walk before 11am on days when the temperature forecast is 36 Celsius or above.
Distance - 4.8km return
Time - Around 2 hours
Grade - Grade 3 - moderate
The Kings Canyon Rim Walk
You must walk this trail in a clockwise direction. The trail is marked with blue arrows. The rim walk starts with a difficult climb (500+ steps) so you should only walk it if you are fit and healthy. You must start the walk before 9am on days when the temperature forecast is 36 Celsius or above.
Distance - 6km loop
Time - 3 to 4 hours
Grade - Grade 4 - moderate to difficult
We stayed on a picturesque campsite at Kings Canyon Resort. Booking a campsite is relatively easy on their website. As we travelled in September, we did not encounter the high season and there were plenty of sites available.
Each afternoon, we wandered up to the Thirsty Dingo Bar for happy hour where we met up with other travellers to share stories and forge some new friendships. There is a general store with all the essentials, including fuel, gas bottles, clothing, groceries, camping supplies, ice and basic pharmaceuticals. There is also a beautiful pool.
Watarrka National Park and Kings Canyon:
300 km from Uluru, about four hours by car
450 km from Alice Springs, about five hours by car
Sealed road - head south on the Stuart Highway to the Lasseter Highway.
Unsealed - Larapinta Drive and then the Mereenie Loop Road
You can park at Morris Pass Lookout for up to 24 hours and camp here for free.
There is no camping in the national park.
Visit in the cooler winter months between May-September.
The Rim Walk is a 6 km walk along the Kings Canyon rim.
Start as early as possible allowing between three to four hours for the hike.
Carry lots of water in a thermal drink bottle.
Hat, hiking boots, snacks, camera etc
Carry or wear a fly net - the flies can be very annoying.
Have you visited King's Canyon? Share your experience in the comments below or any other great tips.
Our journey Travelling Australia's Northern Territory
As we continue our journey travelling Australia's Northern Territory, it’s impossible not to be spellbound by the sheer diversity and breathtaking beauty of King's Canyon. Is it worth it - a resounding YES!