no alt text

Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 15 January, 2023
Expert travel writer: Mark Chipperfield

The 100m-deep Kings Canyon gorge epitomises the raw desert beauty of Central Australia. A dramatic sandstone rock formation, formed more than 400 million years ago, it has a long indigenous history, stretching back some 20,000 years. Located in the protected Watarrka National Park, it is also home to more than 600 species of native wildlife.

Most visitors come here to hike. There are two main trails to choose from. The 6km Kings Canyon Rim Walk along the top of the canyon takes 3-4 hours and includes a stop at the ‘garden of Eden’ waterhole. The shorter Kings Creek Walk is 2km (return) and takes about an hour, and tracks along the bottom of the gorge.

Other great ways to experience the area are camel rides, quad bike safaris and helicopter flights are also popular – as is dining under the stars.

While you’re there

If you’re stopping over at the Kings Canyon resort, book in for the ‘Desert under the Moon’ dining experience. A 5-course meal is served under the stars (over 18s only).

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

The park is 300kms from Yulara by sealed road (about 3 hours’ drive). It’s better to come on an organised tour, with a guided walk.

You can do it in a (long) day trip from Yulara – there are many such tours – or if you have time stay overnight at the simple but pleasant Kings Canyon Resort.

If you are going independently, you can download a map with information from the NT government website.

When to do it

Winter (June to August) is the ideal time to be in the desert. Spring and autumn can work well too.

Desert summers (December to March) are too hot for hiking and any physical activity. It’s also the wet season, when the air is filled with relentless swarms of annoying flies. On the plus side, it’s less crowded.

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Kings Canyon Guided Rim Walk

Kings Canyon Guided Rim Walk

Kings Canyon

From Kings Canyon Resort, join a guide on a rocky climb to the rim of Kings Canyon for superb views of Watarrka National Park. The walk take...

A95 | Rating 4.19 / 5 [42 ratings]

Website >

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Kings Canyon Day Trip from Ayers Rock (Uluru)

Kings Canyon Day Trip from Ayers Rock (Uluru)


Travel into the heart of Australia on a Kings Canyon day trip from Ayers Rock (Uluru). Your journey takes you to a classic outback cattle st...

A285 | Rating 4.56 / 5 [245 ratings]

Website >

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Discovery Resorts – Kings Canyon

Watarrka National Park, Northern Territory, Australia[5.1 miles]

A colourful, if fairly basic Outback resort, that’s ideally located for exploring this dramatic landscape dating back 400 million years.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Northern Territory, Australia

The place to come for the Australian outback experience – jaw-dropping geological formations (including world-famous Uluru), sleeping out in swag bags, sampling bush tucker, and connecting with authentic Aborginal culture.

Website >
Overview >

Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

People dining outside at sunset for the 'Under a Desert Moon' dining experience

‘Under a Desert Moon’ dining experience

Watarrka National Park, Northern Territory, Australia[4.2 miles]

This unique Outback experience, hosted by the Kings Canyon Resort, sees you transferred to a secret location, free of light pollution, to dine by firelight and beneath the Southern sky’s canopy of stars. The evening kicks off with drinks and canapes at Carmichael’s restaurant.

Best for ages: 18+ | £40 | 5 hours

Website >
Overview >

Round-ups that include this experience