There’s no shortage of exciting activities and attractions to fill your itinerary with in Alice Springs itself. However, if you can allow yourself the extra time to take some day trips, you certainly won’t regret it. The area surrounding the town is home to majestic mountain ranges, stunning national parks, glimmering waterholes, and Australian icons. Here are five of the best day trips from Alice Springs.
The 468KM drive to one of Australia’s most famous landmarks takes around 5.5-6 hours so you’ll need to set off early. Spend your time here on a walking tour of Uluru during which you can learn all about Dreamtime stories and see Anangu rock art. Alternatively, tour the rock on camelback, motorbike, bicycle, or helicopter. Whilst it is possible to do this trip yourself, booking a tour from Alice Springs will allow you to enjoy the full day there, including watching the sensational sunset with a glass of sparkling wine and a BBQ dinner, without worrying about driving back at night.
Spend a full day exploring Alice Springs’ big, beautiful backyard. The first worthwhile places to stop are just a short drive from the town centre, so it’s up to you how long you spend or how far you venture. Alternatively, guided tours are available. Spot black-footed wallabies at Simpsons Gap, and admire the spectacular Standley Chasm. See the sacred ochre pits, and swim in refreshing natural waterholes at Ormiston Gorge and Ellery Creek Big Hole.
The less-visited East MacDonnell Ranges are just as worthy of a day trip. Emily and Jessie Gaps are only a 15-minute drive from Alice Springs, and home to sacred Aboriginal rock art, gorgeous landscapes, native wildlife, and short walking trails. Continue onwards to the wonderful scenery of Trephina Gorge, where you can visit a breathtaking lookout and see Australia’s oldest Ghost Gum. Enjoy a refreshing swim at Trephina Gorge or John Hayes waterhole.
4. Watarrka National Park
At 443KM, it’s a long drive to Watarrka National Park, so it’s best to leave early or book a tour. The 71,000 hectares park is home to a picturesque landscape of red cliffs, rock holes, gorges, towering ranges, and over 600 species of flora and fauna. However, it is best known for Kings Canyon, with 100-metre sandstone walls soaring dramatically from a lush oasis below. The Rim Walk offers astounding views into the sandstone chasm, whilst the Creek Walk around the base of the chasm takes you through a garden of greenery with a sparkling waterhole and impressive views of the canyon walls.
5. Palm Valley
Discover the outback oasis that is Palm Valley, found in Finke Gorge National Park. 4-wheel driving experience and the appropriate vehicle are necessary, however, tours are available. Palm Valley is named after the Red Cabbage Palm Trees that can only be found here. See impressive rock formations, pinnacles, gorges, and a surprising array of plant life as you enjoy a scenic walk through the valley.