Tjoritja / West MacDonnell National Park

Heat warning

Temperatures across the Northern Territory can be very hot between October and March.

It can exceed 40 degrees celsius in some locations. High humidity in the Top End can also make you tire easily.

Check forecast temperatures before you visit. Find out how to prepare and stay safe in the heat.

Tjoritja / West MacDonnell National Park stretches 161km west of Alice Springs and will draw you in with its majestic beauty.

Known as Tjoritja by the Traditional Owners, the continuation of cultural practices and a connection to the land is highly significant for local Aranda Aboriginal culture.

Cool scenic gorges are important refuges for plants and animals, many are found only here and some are relicts of a bygone era of tropical forests.

Some of the sites you shouldn't miss on a journey here include Simpsons Gap, Ochre Pits, Standley Chasm (privately operated) and the permanent waterholes at Ellery Creek Big Hole and Ormiston Gorge.

When you visit the park, allow a few days to see the many surprises here steeped in Aboriginal culture.

Take the time to witness an outback sunrise, sunset and starry night sky.

Avid and experienced walkers can trek the West Macs on the Larapinta Trail.

The trail is broken into 12 sections and can be completed in stages or all at once.

Get the Tjoritja / West MacDonnell National Park fact sheet and map PDF (1.0 MB)

Get the Ellery Creek Big Hole fact sheet and map PDF (1.2 MB)

Get the Ormiston Gorge and Pound fact sheet and map PDF (1.2 MB)

Get the Redbank Gorge fact sheet and map PDF (1.3 MB)

Tjoritja National Park - Ellery Creek Tjoritja National Park - Ellery Creek Tjoritja National Park - Ormiston Gorge

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Ormiston Gorge Ranger Station phone: 08 8956 7799

Simpsons Gap Ranger Station phone: 08 8955 0310

Park sitesAccessComments Forecast opening
Tjoritja / West MacDonnell National Park Open Some areas of the park remain closed due to recent flooding and damage. -
Birthday Waterhole Open to high clearance 4WD only   -
Ellery Creek Big Hole Closed Ellery Creek Big Hole is currently closed while the access road is being sealed. 
Dolomite Walk Open Swimming or wading through cold water may be required -
Glen Helen Gorge Open   -
Glen Helen Gorge Walk Open Swimming or wading through cold water may be required -
Finke River Two Mile Open to high clearance 4WD only   -
Hugh Gorge Open to high clearance 4WD only   -
Ochre Pits Open   -
Aranda Walk Open   -
Ormiston Gorge Open   -
Ormiston Gorge campground Open   -
Ormiston Gorge Kiosk Closed   March 2022
Ormiston Pound Walk: Ormiston Gorge Open Swimming through cold water required -
Ghost Gum Lookout Open   -
Ghost Gum Loop Walk  Open Swimming through cold water required -
Redbank Gorge Open to high clearance 4WD only   -
Redbank Gorge Walk Open   -
Simpsons Gap Open   -
Simpsons Gap Bicycle Path Open   -
Serpentine Gorge Open to high clearance 4WD only   -
Serpentine Chalet Dam Open to high clearance 4WD only   -
Larapinta Trail
Larapinta Trail Open Swimming or wading through cold water will be required on many sections due to recent flooding. Trail conditions may have changed due to flooding and wayfinding may be more difficult than usual. -
Section 1 - Telegraph Station to Simpsons Gap Open   -
Section 2 - Simpsons Gap to Jay Creek Open   -
Section 3 - Jay Creek to Standley Chasm Open   -
Section 4 - Standley Chasm to Birthday Waterhole Open   -
Section 5 - Birthday Waterhole to Hugh Gorge Open   -
Section 6 - Hugh Gorge to Ellery Creek Open Vehicle access closed from 24 November to 16 December. The site will re-open over Christmas from 17 December 2021 to 4 January 2022, and will then close again until February 2022. Anticipated re-opening 17 December 2021
Section 7 - Ellery Creek to Serpentine Gorge Open Vehicle access closed from 24 November to 16 December. The site will re-open over Christmas from 17 December 2021 to 4 January 2022, and will then close again until February 2022. Anticipated re-opening 17 December 2021
Section 8 - Serpentine Gorge to Serpentine Chalet Open   -
Section 9 - Serpentine Chalet to Ormiston Gorge Open   -
Section 10 - Ormiston Gorge to Finke River Open   -
Section 11 - Finke River to Redbank Gorge Open   -
Section 12 - Redbank Gorge to Mt Sonder return Open   -

Most of the park is open all year round, but roads may not be accessible for short periods after heavy rain.

It is best to visit in the cooler months from April to September.

From Alice Springs, access the Tjoritja / West MacDonnell National Park's many visitor areas along Larapinta Drive and Namatjira Drive.

From Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon) access the park on the unsealed Red Centre Way (Mereenie Loop). You need a permit to access this road.

Check road conditions before you go.

You can do all of the following activities in the park:

Camping is only permitted in designated campsites.

Ellery Big Hole and Redbank Gorge have basic camping facilities.

Bush camping is available at Serpentine Chalet and Finke 2-mile. Ormiston Gorge has a campground with showers and flushing toilets.

Glen Helen Lodge and Standley Chasm have camping and caravan sites. These are commercially owned and operated.

Camping fees apply and are payable on-site.

Swimming is permitted at Ellery Creek Big Hole, Redbank Gorge, Glen Helen Gorge and Ormiston Gorge.

You should be aware that most swimming holes are very cold. Long exposure, even during summer, can lead to hypothermia.

The Tjoritja / West MacDonnell National Park visitor areas have many facilities as listed below.

Simpsons Gap

Read more on Simpsons Gap.

Standley Chasm

Standley Chasm is commercially-owned and operated and has all of the following facilities:

  • information signs
  • public toilets
  • drinking water
  • kiosk
  • picnic area.

Ellery Creek Big Hole

Ellery Creek Big Hole has all of the following facilities:

  • information signs
  • picnic area
  • public toilets
  • drinking water - must be treated before drinking
  • gas barbecues
  • walking tracks
  • disability access
  • swimming
  • camping and caravan sites.

Serpentine Gorge

Serpentine Gorge has all of the following facilities:

  • information signs
  • picnic area
  • public toilets
  • walking tracks.

Serpentine Chalet

Serpentine Chalet has all of the following facilities:

  • information signs
  • picnic area
  • public toilets
  • walking tracks
  • bush camping.

Ochre Pits

The Ochre Pits have all of the following facilities:

  • information signs
  • picnic area
  • public toilets
  • disability access.

Ormiston Gorge

Read more on Ormiston Gorge.

Glen Helen Gorge

Glen Helen is commercially-owned and operated and has all of the following facilities:

  • information signs
  • public toilets
  • drinking water
  • swimming
  • camping and caravan sites
  • accommodation
  • restaurant

Finke 2-Mile

Finke 2-Mile is four-wheel drive access only. It has information signs and bush camping.

Redbank Gorge

Redbank Gorge has all of the following facilities:

  • information signs
  • barbecues
  • drinking water - must be treated before drinking
  • campsites
  • caravan sites
  • walking tracks
  • picnic area
  • public toilets
  • swimming.

When visiting the park remember all of the following:

  • stay on designated roads and tracks
  • historic, cultural items and wildlife are protected
  • fires are permitted in communal fire pits only
  • collect firewood before entering the park
  • bins are not provided, so take your rubbish with you
  • pets are not permitted in the park
  • generators are not permitted in the park
  • you need a permit to use a drone - you must get it before you arrive.

You can have a safe and comfortable trip to Tjoritja / West MacDonnell National Park by doing all of the following:

  • observe park safety signs
  • carry and drink plenty of water
  • wear a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, suitable clothing and footwear
  • avoid strenuous activity during the heat of the day
  • think about your health and fitness when choosing a walk
  • swim only where recommended
  • swing ropes are not permitted
  • use free interactive park maps on your mobile phone or tablet.

Simpsons Gap Ranger Station phone: 08 8955 0310

Ormiston Gorge Ranger Station phone: 08 8956 7799

Go to Parks and Wildlife Alice Springs for more tourist information.


Last updated: 25 November 2021

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