Watarrka National Park
Temperatures across the Northern Territory can be very hot between October and April.
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.
Watarrka National Park includes the western end of the George Gill Range.
This scenic landscape of rugged ranges, rockholes and gorges acts as a refuge for many plants and animals.
Kings Canyon is a highlight for visitors to Central Australia.
The ancient red canyon walls soar 100m above Kings Creek to a plateau of rocky domes.
The sheltered creek environments below protect an abundance of flora including the MacDonnell Ranges Cycad.
Kathleen Springs is located 21km by road from Kings Canyon.
Here the relicts of old stockyards can be seen along the pleasant walk to the permanent waterhole. The full length of the path is paved, and accessible by wheelchair and pram.
The waterhole holds special significance for the local Aboriginal people and is important for wildlife, so swimming is not permitted.
Find out more about the early pioneering history .
Ranger Station: 08 8956 7460
|Park sites||Status||Comments||Forecast opening|
|Watarrka National Park||Open||Drive with caution. Sand and debris on road at several locations in the park.||-|
|Kathleen Creek Crossing at Luritja Road||Open||-|
|Kings Creek Crossing at Luritja Road (Kings Canyon Resort East)||Open||-|
|Kings Canyon Access Road||Open||-|
|Kings Canyon Picnic area||Open||-|
|Kings Canyon Rim Walk||Open with conditions||When temperatures are forecast to be 36°C or above, you need to start your walk before 9am. Check the Bureau of Meteorology forecast before you head out. Read about how to stay safe in the heat.||-|
|South Wall Return Walk||Open with conditions||When temperatures are forecast to be 36°C or above, you need to start your walk before 9am. Check the Bureau of Meteorology forecast before you head out. Read about how to stay safe in the heat.||-|
|Kings Creek Walk||Open||-|
|Kathleen Springs Walk||Open||-|
|Giles Track||Open||Overnight camping at Reedy Creek Campground, booking required via the Parks Booking System||-|
All year round, although the cooler months from April to September are the most pleasant.
Unsealed roads may become impassable after rain.
There is a heat management strategy in place at Watarrka National Park.
This means access to the park is limited during the hottest months of the year, from September to March.
Find out how to stay safe in the heat.
The park is located 450km south-west of Alice Springs and there are three routes to get there.
The Stuart and Lasseter Highways and Luritja Road are all sealed and suitable for two-wheel drive (2WD) vehicles.
The Lasseter Highway and Luritja Road will bring you to Watarrka from Yulara.
A four-wheel drive (4WD) is recommended to travel the Red Centre Way via Larapinta Drive through the West MacDonnell Ranges.
You need a Mereenie Loop Pass permit to travel on Larapinta Drive between Hermannsburg and Watarrka National Park or between Glen Helen and Watarrka National Park.
You can buy a permit from fuel stations at Kings Canyon Resort, Hermannsburg and the Alice Springs Visitor Information Centre.
A 4WD is also recommended to take the Stuart Highway, then Ernest Giles Road leading onto Luritja Road.
Check road conditions before you go.
Overnight camping in tents, caravans or motorhomes is not allowed in the National Park.
Commercial accommodation, camping and bunkhouses are available at the Kings Canyon Resort website. Phone: 08 8956 7442
Camping and safari-style cabins are available at Kings Creek Station website. Phone: 08 8956 7474
Watarrka National Park has all of the following facilities:
- information signs
- ranger station – emergency contact only
- drinking water
- public toilets
- wheelchair access
- picnic area
- walking tracks
- scenic lookout
When visiting the park remember all of the following:
- stay on designated roads and tracks
- stay at least 2m from cliff edges
- historic, cultural items and wildlife are protected
- firewood collection is not permitted in the park
- fires are not permitted in the park
- bins are not provided, so take your rubbish with you
- pets are permitted on a leash in the Kings Canyon carpark only
- don't throw rocks over cliff edges as there may be people below
- camping is not permitted in the park
- a permit is required for drone use – conditions apply and it must be obtained prior to your arrival in the park.
You can have a safe and comfortable trip to Watarrka 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
- use free interactive park maps on your mobile phone or tablet.
Watarrka National Park safety video:
Visiting Watarrka National Park is a great experience for local, interstate and international school groups.
It is important that all groups are safe and respect the environment when visiting.
Before visiting the park you should read the Watarrka National Park guide for school groups .
Last updated: 23 February 2022
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