The only hiking trail to fully experience Kings Canyon
Complete the Kings Canyon Rim Walk to get views from the top of the cliffs to the base below, then head into an oasis at the centre of the gorge that’s unlike anywhere else is the vast red centre of the outback.
There are several hiking trails at Kings Canyon, although the Rim Walk is the only one that will allow you to fully experience the beauty of the place. It usually takes people about 3 hours to complete 6 kilometre walk, with the option of heading out on two small 600 metre return detours.
The Kings Canyon Rim Walk require a moderate level of fitness to complete and it’s important to make sure that you have plenty of water and to consider giving it a miss if the weather is too hot. There are only a couple of steep sections that are easy to overcome, the rest of the walk is relatively flat and easy to hike.
The trail begins by going up to the top of Kings Canyon where you’ll get stunning views back down into it. You’ll then be able to head on a 600 metre leg to a lookout, where you’ll be right on the edge of the canyon with views into the base then out to the plains.
Once you get back onto the track from the lookout, you then head down some timber stairs into an incredible oasis called the Garden of Eden. Either continue on the Kings Canyon Rim Walk or take another 600 metre detour to head out further into the garden (it’s well worth it!).
The Garden of Eden is inside Kings Canyon, to continue the trail, you’ll need to walk up a whole heap of steep timber stairs, then the good news is that the hard work is over, the rest of the trail is mainly flat on down hill.
After passing the garden, you’ll be on the opposite side of the canyon to where you started from, where you’ll head along the cliff edges and then back down to the car park.
There are two steep sections, the rest of the track is relatively flat and easy to complete.
Shortly after beginning the hike, the trail goes up to the top of the cliffs on the edge of the canyon. The trail is very steep, but it’ll only take 10-15 minutes to get to the top.
Once you’re up on top of the canyon, there is still a bit of elevation, but nothing strenuous and you’ll be able to hold onto your breath.
The second steep section is after passing through the Garden of Eden, although this time, the track is a timber boardwalk and stairs with a handrail, making it that bit easier than climbing up rocks and boulders.
After making your way up the stairs, the remainder of the trail is mostly flat or going down hill all of the way back to the car park, other than some very small sections of elevation that almost go unnoticed.
The Kings Canyon Rim Walk is a 6km loop trail, although there are two detours that are each 600 metres return, making the entire trail 7.2 kms.
There’s a large car park with plenty of room and toilet facilities, although there isn’t any drinking water available.
Just next to the car park is a shelter to escape the sun.
Closest place to buy food & drinks
The Kings Canyon Caravan Park AKA Discovery Kings Canyon is 10 kilometres from the car park. Here you’ll find just about any essential item as there’s a grocery and general store, petrol station, bar, restaurant, resort and campground.
To find the place, head out of the national park and when you hit the main road, rather than turning left towards Uluru or Alice Springs, head 6 kilometres to the right and you can’t miss it.
Dogs aren’t allowed anywhere inside the Kings Canyon National Park, although try calling Discovery Kings Canyon/the caravan park, as often they’ll have staff members that are willing to look after pets on their days off for a fee.
Getting to Hancock Gorge
The simplest way to put it: Head towards Uluru from Alice Springs. A bit less than half way from the Stuart Highway to Uluru is the turn off the Kings Canyon. Turn right and keep on driving. Eventually, you’ll reach to the turn off to Kings Canyon National Park, which is just 4 kms from the main road. It’s not far after the Kings Canyon Station & if you reach the Kings Canyon Resort/Discovery Park, you’ve gone 6 kms too far.
Longer version: You’ve got to get onto Luritja Road and drive north, all of the way to the end. The end of Luritja Road is where there’s the turn off to Kings Canyon National Park, which is a road that goes 4kms to the east, to the national park car park where the hiking trails begin.
If you’re coming from Uluru, head towards Alice Springs on the Lassater Highway, then a bit more than half way to the Stuart Highway, turn left at Luritja Road and follow it all of the way to Kings Canyon.
If you’re coming from Alice Springs, there are shorter routes, but you’ll need a 4wd. The only way to get there in a 2WD is to head towards Uluru. Once you’ve turned off the Stuart Highway onto Lasseter Highway, you’ll then need to turn right at Luritja Road and follow it all of the way to the national park.
Accommodation & Camping near Kings Canyon
You’ve got two choices. The Kings Canyon Station, which is a short distance back towards Uluru from the national park, otherwise there’s the Kings Canyon Caravan Park, just 10 kilometres from the national park car park.
Both places have powered and unpowered campsites for caravans and RVs, a tent camping section and accommodation.
The Kings Canyon Caravan Park/Discovery Park has a general store, restaurant and bar, and most importantly, a large pool.
We haven’t stayed at the Kings Canyon Station and can’t say a lot about it, but there are Camels there!