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Our Australian road trip opened my eyes to the strength and resilience of my daughters, and one such experience that proved this was when we did the Kings Canyon Rim Walk in Watarrka National Park.
The Australian Outback is a vast and desolate place, with canyons, gorges, creeks and incredible rock formations. It’s an adventurers playground, but not one people usually think about taking their kids to.
I’m sure if we were living a normal life; we’d not have the opportunity, or be open to testing our kid’s limits of capability.
The helicopter parenting instead takes over, and we impose the limits onto our children based on our fears and conditions.
“You’re too young for that. You’re not strong enough to do it. You might fall and hurt yourself.”
But, out here on the road, in the Red Centre of Australia, you’re plonked into adventures that force you to redefine what’s possible. If you’re thinking of doing the Kings Canyon Rim Walk with your kids, here’s how you do it…
About The Kings Canyon Rim Walk
- Distance: 5.5 kilometre walk
- Time: 3-4 hours.
- Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
- Grade: 4
- Terrain: Natural surface with some stone paths
- Start/Finish: Kings Canyon carpark
- Wheelchair friendly? No
- Permit required? Yes, you can purchase a 3-day permit from the Alice Springs Visitor Centre
The Kings Canyon Rim Walk is one of the most incredible hikes in the Australian Outback, and takes you through the iconic gorge of Kings Canyon, deep into the “Garden of Eden”, up to Priscilla’s Crack (a famous split between the rocks that overlook the canyon), and to viewpoints that give you panoramic views of the canyon.
It’s not an easy walk – there’s a steep climb up a stone staircase of around 500 steep steps to watch out for, which fortunately is at the start of the hike, and then you have the choice of descending into the gorge or staying at the top of the canyon.
The hike is not only scenic, but important to the local people. The canyon’s traditional owners, the Purnululu people, consider this site sacred. Especially the watering hole which the trail crosses over.
Please be respectful when visiting and do not allow your kids to splash around in the waterhole or damage any rocks.
Look with your eyes, not your hands.
From Uluru, Kings Canyon is a three-hour drive north along the Lasseter Highway and Luritja Road.
From Alice Springs, it’s a 3.5 hour drive (331.8 km) west along Stuart Highway, Larapinta Drive and State Route 6.
Kings Canyon is along the Red Centre Way loop road which starts and ends in Alice Springs and links the Red Centre’s main landmarks, including Uluru, West MacDonnell Ranges, and Kata Tjuta National Park.
If you don’t have your own vehicle, you can hire a car in Alice Springs through our preferred search comparison site DiscoverCars.com. Check rates and availability here.
The following transfers and tours are also available. Click on the links to book in advance:
Our Experience Hiking The Kings Canyon Rim Walk
“Let’s just try it and see how we go. We can always turn back.”
That’s what we said on the morning we set out early to do the Kings Canyon rim walk, in the Watarrka National Park.
Other people told us the girls couldn’t do it, but we knew we could try first and then discover the real answer instead of just assuming.
Craig and I were prepared to carry the girls at some stage. It was a 5.5 kilometre loop walk, without counting the extra side trails we took to Cotterill’s Lookout and the Garden of Eden.
We’d done a lot of small walks and hikes with the girls so we were fairly confident we could do it. Only a few days earlier we had walked 10 kilometres around the base of Uluru. Granted I had to carry Savannah a lot of the way.
I had a feeling King’s Canyon would be different. As we suggested in this post on how to hike with kids, you need to keep them entertained. Rocks and steep climbs do it every time.
From the minute we started, they took control of their legs. It was just on sun up, so it was cool, and there were no flies.
They made it to the top of the only steep part of the walk, took a rest and admired the views over the sheer 100-metre high sandstone walls and the sun rising above the deep gorge.
It was lovely to walk amongst the dome shapes and see the colours change as the sun continued its journey up.
Then the remainder of the time they sang, played games and scrambled over the rocks.
There are plenty of places to stop for a break and to take in the views of the gorge below. Just be careful of going too close to the edge – stay well back!
It was a beautiful walk, and I was so happy to enjoy it carrying only a small backpack.
Rumour has it the Garden of Eden is not to be missed. It’s a little diversion off the main track along the Kings Creek walk past 400-year-old cycads to a large spring-fed waterhole in between the high cliff walls of the north rim.
With its high cliff walls, it was a picturesque, green refuge from the hot sun and the perfect place for a snack break of banana chips and vegemite sandwiches.
No swimming is encouraged due to it being an Aboriginal sacred spot for men’s business.
Three-year-old Savannah started to waver after this and the whines of being tired started to appear.
We’d encourage her to walk just that little bit further until she found her limit. She appreciated the views out over the ‘Lost City’ – a mini-Purnululu of striped sandstone domes – on our shoulders instead.
Soon enough, we’d come across some more rocks to scramble over, and she’d demand to get off our shoulders.
After visiting the Garden of Eden, the trail loops back around and you will soon reach a one way gate and follow the trail for the South Wall Return walk.
Doing the rim walk of Kings Canyon was another of those memorable moments with our girls. They tend to come the most when were out walking in nature.
I remember them, not just because of the breathtaking scenery and the adventurous walk but for the strength of spirit I see in my girls.
They inspire me to dig a little deeper and find my strength. And to skip a little more with the joy that comes with something as simple as scrambling over a rock.
Kings Canyon Resort
After the walk, we highly suggest grabbing a couple of cold drinks and sitting at the outside sunset bar at the King’s Canyon Resort to watch the sun set over the mountain ranges.
It was stunning, especially with the full moon rising. Perfect end to a perfect day!
Tips for Doing The Kings Canyon Rim Walk
Before you go, here are a few words of advice for those planning to do the Kings Canyon Rim Walk, with kids or without…
- Know when to go. The hotter months are December to February, and the park even closes at 9am during these months because it’s too hot for hikers. April to October is a better time to visit.
- Go as early as possible. Start walking at sunrise and aim to be back before breakfast time.
- Check the temperature forecast first, just to be on the safe side.
- The hike is well marked, but not always obvious. Download the app MapsMe (it’s free) and download the offline GPS so you can easily find your route.
- Charge your camera!
- Drink plenty of water
- Wear sunscreen, even though it’s early in the day
If you don’t want to explore Kings Canyon on your own, you have several tour options. Check below.
Darwin to Uluru Tour: Top End & Central Australia Explorer
If you’re not traveling independently, you will love this Darwin to Uluru tour with Cosmos Tours (part of the Globus family of brands, who we highly recommend)
Landscapes like no other and an abundance of cultural heritage, this is just some of what you can expect to uncover on this 11-day tour through Central Australia.
Starting in Darwin, you’ll travel south through the Northern Territory, ending in Uluru (Ayers Rock), with overnights in Darwin, Kakadu, Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs, Kings Canyon and Uluru.
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Final Thoughts on The Kings Canyon Rim Walk
The walk tired me; I can only imagine how their little bodies felt.
How strong and capable they’ll be when they grow up. I love that these days are helping them understand the healing effects of nature and the goodness it gives to mind, body and spirit.
I’m incredibly proud of them and so grateful we get to share this journey together.