Kings Canyon in the Northern Territory of Australia offers the chance to see landscapes like nowhere else on earth. This spectacular chasm, located at the western end of the George Gill Range around 300km southwest of Alice Springs, was driven 270m deep into the earth by millions of years of erosion. The unique geographical formation creates a fertile environment of dense palm forests and attracts a range of native animal species from the surrounding deserts.
The canyon features numerous waterholes, unworldly boulders and fossilised tracks of ancient marine creatures, as well as ripples left by an ancient ocean that has long since disappeared. The gorge is lined with staggering cliff walls, 100m high. On top of these cliff walls, on the rim of the canyon, there are spectacular views across the lush canyon and the surrounding desert landscapes, as well as truly breath-taking sunsets.
Things to know about Kings Canyon
Before you book a Kings Canyon tour, there are a few things you should know in order to enhance your experience. It is important to be prepared for the beautiful, hot environment of Kings Canyon. The temperatures and sun can be extreme here, so be sure to pack sun protection and plenty of water. An insulated water bottle that keeps your water cool is a good idea, as is insect repellent. Please be aware that there is no mobile phone reception.
History of Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon's name originates from Kings Creek, named by the explorer Ernest Giles in 1872 after his close friend, Mr. Fielder King. Kings Canyon is the traditional home of the Luritja people of Central Australia. After European settlement, it became part of Tempe Downs station, before becoming part of Watarrka National Park and returned to its traditional owners in 2012.
Walking Kings Canyon
The Kings Canyon Rim Walk takes visitors past the Garden of Eden, a lush waterhole that forms an oasis for the desert wildlife. When you explore Kings Canyon on this walk, you'll also see the incredible sandstone rock formations of the Lost City and the spectacular views of the gorge from the rim.
The Kings Canyon Rim Walk explores 6km of the scenic canyon, winding in a circuit around the rim and descending to the Garden of Eden before heading back to the top with the south wall return walk. This walk takes 3-4 hours, with the start being the most difficult part. The walk starts from the Kings Canyon car park, but to get to the rim of the canyon the trail follows 500 steep steps. The reward at the top is well worth it, with 360-degree views of the stunning canyon scenery including Priscilla's Crack and the sandstone domes of the Lost City.
On the Kings Creek Walk, you’ll walk along the fertile canyon floor, taking in lush ferns and eucalypts. This walk is shorter and less arduous than the Kings Canyon Rim Walk, so ideal for less experienced walkers. Part of this walk is accessible for those in wheelchairs. On the walk, you can take in the impressive cliffs of the gorge, as well as observe the diverse native flora, fauna and birdlife in the canyon.
At Kings Canyon, you’ll be able to spot a range of different native animals and birds. The canyon is home to a range of species, thanks to its abundant flora and waterholes which offer animals an important relief from the harsh desert beyond.
Here you can spot fascinating lizards such as the ring-tailed dragon and the thorny devil, which has evolved to have spikes all over the top of its body. These spikes are not only for protection from predators, they are very specifically positioned to direct water to the thorny devil’s mouth. You might also see that famous native Australian canine, the dingo, as well as birds like the brown falcon, the Australian kestrel, the rare scarlet-chested parrot and the splendid fairy wren.
Being in the desert, Kings Canyon experiences extreme temperature changes between the day and the evening. Temperatures can be very hot during the day and plunge to freezing temperatures overnight. The hottest months in Kings Canyon are from October to April, when temperatures can exceed 36 degrees Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit). At this time, it is not recommended to take the Kings Canyon Rim Climb due to the risk of heat exhaustion, and we offer the alternative of a guided walk along the cooler Kings Canyon creek bed instead.
During the winter months of May to September, you are likely to enjoy more mild temperatures of no more than 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). The perfect time to take on the challenging but extremely rewarding Kings Canyon Rim Climb.
AAT Kings’ Tours of Kings Canyon
For those that are interested in visiting Kings Canyon, AAT Kings offers a variety of different tours, from one-off coach transfers to 19 Day Guided Holidays. Our selection of tours is suitable for all ages and interests, with short and long Kings Canyon tours available. If you are looking at exploring Kings Canyon either by yourself or with friends and family, browse our selection of Kings Canyon-specific tours below.
Kings Canyon Coach Transfers
AAT Kings offers luxury coach transfers to Kings Canyon from Alice Springs and Ayers Rock. Relax in a comfortable, air-conditioned coach as you learn more about the area from our comprehensive commentary by our experienced guides. Our transfers run between Kings Canyon Resort and Ayers Rock, and Kings Canyon Resort and Alice Springs.
Kings Canyon Half Day Tours
If you want to take in the wonders of Kings Canyon but don’t have a great deal of time, AAT Kings Half Day tours are a great option. Our tours include a variety of short trips, to suit different interests and abilities. The tours offer a relaxed adventure, ideal for those who are looking to enhance their day trip by exploring Kings Canyon.
Kings Canyon Scenic Climb
This guided tour takes you from Kings Canyon Resort to the rim of Kings Canyon. On this three-hour hike, you’ll pass the natural spring waterhole, the Garden of Eden, on your way to the sweeping views from the rim to the verdant gorge below. There is also the option for an easier walk along the shady creek bed, where you can explore the boulder-strewn canyon floor and spot a wide variety of wildlife. With either walk, you’ll be overwhelmed by this majestic canyon, whether from above or below.
View the full itinerary of the Kings Canyon Scenic Climb.
Kings Canyon Full Day Tours
Kings Canyon day tours are the perfect way to see much of what Kings Canyon has to offer, like stunning rock formations, diverse landscapes, and native flora and fauna.
If you are looking to spend a whole day exploring Kings Canyon, browse below from our selection of boutique full-day experiences.
Kings Canyon & Outback Panoramas
After a luxury coach transfer to Kings Canyon and a stop for breakfast at Kings Creek Station, you’ll arrive at the Watarrka National Park. Here, you’ll have the option to take the hike up to the rim of the canyon, or for an easy walk along the canyon floor. You’ll be struck by the remoteness and diversity of the Australian outback from start to finish during this full-day experience.
View the full itinerary of the Kings Canyon & Outback Panoramas.
Kings Canyon Short Breaks
For those with a little more time, AAT Kings Short Break tours offer the opportunity to dig deeper into this incredible area. We have a variety of 2-day and 4-day short break trips, all providing a relaxed adventure ideal for those looking to enhance their exploration of Kings Canyon over a period of time.
Alice Springs to Uluru Explorer – 2 Day Short Break
This short break tour takes in the highlights of the Red Centre that no visitor should miss. Starting in Alice Springs, you’ll see the majesty of Uluru and the MacDonnell Ranges, learn about indigenous culture at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and the sacred Mutitjulu Waterhole, before ending with a breath-taking hike to Kings Canyon. You’ll be captivated by this unique, deeply spiritual land from Uluru to Kings Canyon.
View the full itinerary of the Alice Springs to Uluru Explorer
Red Centre Adventure – 3 Day Short Break
See the landscapes of Uluru and Kings Canyon in all their wonder on this 3-day adventure. The tour will introduce you to Kata Tjuta at sunrise and sunset, Uluru and Mutitjulu Waterhole, Kings Canyon, and the unique experience of the Field of Light. This is an unforgettable way to get to know these truly special landscapes.
View the full itinerary of the Red Centre Adventure
Uluru & Kings Canyon Discovery
Enjoy a true outback adventure as you explore the Red Centre’s greatest sights, including Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Walpa Gorge, Mutitjulu Waterhole and Kings Canyon. You’ll never forget seeing Uluru at sunrise and sunset, or the stunning Aboriginal rock art that dates back thousands of years.
View the full itinerary of the Uluru & Kings Canyon Discovery