Welcome to one of Australia’s most famous and dramatic geological wonders. There are plenty of things to do at Kings Canyon, which is actually the English Language name for the canyon in Watarrka National Park.
The walks in this park are a great place to experience the arid landscapes of Central Australia up close as you bushwalk through these remote ecosystems.
Things to do in Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon) Northern Territory
Kings Canyon Rim Walk – 6km Loop
The most famous of all the walks at Watarrka National Park, the Kings Canyon Rim walk is maybe even a little infamous for the hectic amount of steps (over 500) at the start of the walk but the unique landscape makes it well worth the effort for those fit enough to tackle it.
This is a loop walk that takes you up to the top of the range for stunning views out over the arid landscapes, up and down through rock features like the lost city, an optional detour down into the Garden of Eden (please keep this water clean for wildlife by not swimming), then continues on to the South Wall before making its way back down steps again.
South Walk Return Walk – 4.8km
In recent times they have added the option to walk the South Wall Return Walk, which is slightly shorter than the rim walk and offers a slightly more gradual climb with wider steps but still a demanding uphill climb.
Find all the track notes and important safety information from the Parks and Wildlife Commission, this will help keep you safe during your visit. On days of 36 Celsius, you must start before 9am.
The Kings Creek Walk
The Kings Creek Walk is a more gentle alternative for those unable to walk the Rim Walk and a nice little add-on for all visitors. It meanders along the usually dry creek, with a backdrop of the canyon walls, gorgeous gnarled river red gums, white-cypress pines, and ends with some pretty spectacular views up onto the high walls of the canyon.
Despite being featured in a scene in Priscilla Queen of the Desert as a lush running creek, the creek running next to Kings Creek Walk is generally dry. Though if you are lucky enough to visit after the rain, look out for frogs as the temporary waterholes become a lush little oasis for wildlife. Please choose not to swim (as with the Garden of Eden) so that water stays usable as long as possible for local wildlife species.
Kathleen Springs Walk
Kathleen Springs Walk is a wheelchair-accessible walk that meanders through the bottom of Kathleen Gorge to you arrive at a viewing platform for a spring fed waterhole.
Some of the plants in parts of central Australia are endemic (only found) in a very tiny range and this includes a few of the plants growing on the gorge walls in the Kathleen Springs area.
This is a 22km walk for experienced bushwalkers and emergency beacons and satellite phones are recommended (people have died getting lost on this walk).
It runs between the Kings Canyon Carkpark and Kathleen Springs with an entrance around the halfway point at the Lilla Carpark. Each section is just under 12km.
You will need two vehicles to walk all or a section of this track one way.
Visit the NT Government website to get the more detailed information including a map, track notes and interpetive information.
Karrke Aboriginal Cultural Experience & Tours
Karrke Aboriginal Cultural Experience and Tours is located in a private community near the eastern boundary of Watarrka National Park.
This tour is new since I worked in the park many years ago however reviewers of the tour on Viator love that the guides are welcoming and generous with sharing knowledge. This experience has received a Badge of Excellence from Viator (a Tripadvisor company).
Things to do near Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon)
Watarrka National Park is quite remote and a long drive from Uluru, Alice Springs, and other ‘nearby’ areas.
However, there are still more things to do around the Park including at Kings Creek Resort & Campground (which is actually inside the boundary of the park on excised land) and outside the park at Kings Creek Station.
Things to do at Kings Canyon Resort
Discovery Parks now owns the Kings Canyon Resort and Campground which has a range of accommodation options (booking.com) and a campground.
Resort Ridge Walk – 2.3km Loop Track
This short walk starts and ends near the resort reception and takes you on a loop up onto the ridge around the resort for views out towards the National Park.
Luritja is a local language and the lookout is the perfect place to watch the range and Carmichaels Crag change colour at sunset, often lighting up a brilliant red colour.
Light Towers at Discovery Resorts Kings Canyon
A newly installed installation by Bruce Munro (who designed the famous Field of Lights installation at Uluru) this paid activity will begin at Luritja lookout. Read more about it here.
Dining under a desert moon (seasonal)
This 5-course dining experience with paired wines is outside under the outback stars and is a special way to finish a day of exploring. Be sure to book in advance to void missing out.
This is the closest place to do a helicopter tour of the Canyon and Carmichaels Crag. If you have time (and money!) the valley out the back is an expansive and an interesting addition to your canyon helicopter tour.
Things to do at Kings Creek Station
Kings Creek Station changed ownership in recent years, bringing a long family history with the station to an end. However, they are introducing some cool new experiences, like a stay at the Drovers Dream Glamping tents (booking.com) which have stunning views out onto the mountain range so you can enjoy both sunrise and sunset from your accommodation.
Check out the Kings Creek Station activities page as some of there tours can be seasonal.
Buggy Station Tour
Explore the landscapes around Kings Creek Station on a guided buggy tour. The tour can be enjoyed by people over 8 during the day or alternatively, you can book an adults-only sunset tour which includes canapes and champagne!
Book everything from a 5 minutes scenic flight to an extensive charter to enjoy the landscapes around Kings Canyon. If you have the option, the pound behind the range is also impressive to see.