Things to do, Alice Springs & Surrounds, Northern Territory, Australia

National parks, Alice Springs & surrounds

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West MacDonnell Ranges, West MacDonnell National Park, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia

As a destination that's synonymous with breathtaking nature, ancient landscapes and wildlife encounters, a trip to one of Central Australia's magnificent national parks is an absolute must. Most can be visited as daytrips from Alice Springs, but with lovely campsites it's highly recommended to pitch a tent to appreciate the incredible stars that evoke all the romance of the Dreamtime.

West MacDonnell Ranges National Park

The West MacDonnell Ranges National Park spans several hundred kilometers of wilderness that takes in plenty of wildlife and natural wonders along the way. Simpsons Gap is a highlight for many with its waterhole, towering cliffs and diverse flora and fauna, including mulga shrub and black-footed wallaby. Another popular sight is the Ochre Pits. Sacred to the indigenous Western Arrernte people the magnificent multi-coloured powdery rock has been used for thousands of years as a decorative material. Other attractions are the waterhole at Glen Helen – believed to be home to a rainbow serpent, and the stunning views from Tylers Pass. The park can be tackled along the world-famous Larapinta Trail, which runs for 223km and was voted by National Geographic as one of the world's top 20 treks.

Finke Gorge National Park

Spread over 46,000 square kilometres of desert landscapes, rocky gorges and attractive waterholes, the Finke Gorge National Park is popular both for its beauty and close proximity to Alice. It's most famous for the oasis-like Palm Valley, which is full of towering red cabbage palm trees, a species found nowhere else in the world and lends an appealing prehistoric feel. The Finke River is also found in the park and is estimated to be the oldest river in the world, dating back 350 million years. The park is also popular for its bushwalking and 4WD tracks.

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