Australia // Hiking Kings Canyon Rim Walk
Right in the heart of the outback you’ll find one of Australia’s most impressive canyons, aptly named Kings Canyon! Most people make their way to this desolate part of central Australia to visit Uluru (aka Ayers Rock), but it’s definitely worth cruising 3 hours through the vibrant red outback to see this other natural wonder.
The magnificent canyon is part of the Watarrka National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory, and is the largest canyon of the Red Centre. There are several excellent hikes to choose from, but the Kings Canyon Rim Walk is by far everyone’s favourite. And rightly so!
This challenging but spectacular hike is 6 km in length and can only be done in one direction, as the hike begins with a very steep 500 step climb to the top of the Canyon. The Rim Walk can be completed it 3-4 hours, but this time span gets stretched easily as there are sooooo many amazing views along the way that will make you want to have a seat and take it all in slowly.
As it can get scorching hot it is recommended to start the hike early morning or late afternoon. This should ensure cooler temperatures and ever-changing canyon colours :) On days where the temperature is forecast to exceed 36°C rangers will close the access to the Rim Walk after 9am, so be sure to get there early!
Ready – set – go!
After conquering the steep ascent you’ll be able to catch your breath and marvel at the sensational 360° scenery of Watarrka National Park. The trail continues along the western side of the canyon. You’ll also cross Priscilla’s Crack, named after a scene in the 1994 movie classic “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”.
A bit further you’ll pass along some spectacular lookouts over the gorge 150 m below. Just be careful not to go to close to the crumbling edges! As you gaze down you’ll be able to read the different layers of history in the steep cliffs of the canyon. These sandstone formations have evolved over millions of years, and you’ll be able to see some formations that are over 400 million years old, such as the Dead Sea’s Ripples!
Just as you think you can’t take the heat or blistering sun any more you’ll reach the steps leading down into the Garden of Eden. You’ll find yourself in a lush green oasis amidst the red sandstone walls soaring high all around this little paradise, creating lots of welcome shade… *phew* :) And if you sit really still while having a snack you might even spot some wildlife!
Once you have made your way back up the Eastern side of Kings Canyon you’ll discover the fascinating landscape known as the “Lost City”. A giant legoland of striped sandstone domes stretches almost as far as the eye can see. As you’re walking through this ancient panorama you’ll surely understand why people have been enchanted by this canyon for thousands of year, and why many parts of this national park are sacred Aboriginal sites.
South Wall Return Walk
If you’re looking for a shorter and less strenuous hike that still allows you to see many of the Kings Canyon highlights, the South Wall Return Walk is the way to go! This trail starts where the Rim Walks ends, allowing you to walk all the way up the canyon, see the Garden of Eden and return via the same route through the “Lost City”. This hike takes about 1-2 hours to complete.
- Bring along the hiker basics: Plenty of water, decent shoes, a hat, sunscreen, snacks, and last but not least: a camera!
- You don’t really need a map, as the paths are clearly indicated by markers along the way.
- The best time to visit Kings Canyon is during the “cooler” winter months (May – September).
- If you’re staying overnight in the area, try to see the moonrise over Kings Canyon at night. Clear skies will also ensure you’ll see one of the most spectacular starlit skies possible!