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West MacDonnell Ranges National Park...
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Ranked as one of the planet's top 20 treks, the Larapinta Trail is a 223 kilometre path that follows the rocky spine of the West MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs Telegraph Station to Mount Sonder.
Challenge yourself to hike the whole trail or tackle one of its 12 sections, all of which vary in difficulty and length. Each section can be reached by four-wheel drive, so you can join or leave the trail at any of the Tailheads.
The Trail encompasses some of the key attractions of the ranges including Simpsons Gap, and the permanent waterholes at Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge and Glen Helen. It weaves past some of the world's most ancient metamorphic and igneous rock and nearly 600 species of rare flora.
The Trail also links in with other walking tracks within the West MacDonnell National Park, allowing side trips to explore more of the Park.
Along the way you camp under the stars. Most camp sites have picnic tables and tent sites. All Trailheads have a water supply and some have free gas barbecues. Fully guided tours are available, otherwise set off on your own ensuring you're well equipped and have notified the relevant authorities.
Some campgrounds in the Tjoritja / West MacDonnell National Park have campsite fees, including:
Ellery Creek Big Hole - $5 per person
Ormiston Gorge - $10 per person
Redbank Gorge - $5 per person.
You should carry the correct amount as change is not available.
There is a charge to stay at Standley Chasm and Glen Helen Resort as these are privately owned and operated.
All other campsites are free and most are set aside for use by Larapinta Trail walkers.
Fun Fit Adventure have prepared a 4-part guide, based on their own personal experience, on the Larapinta trail . The guide covers everything including planning, suggested itinerary and gear to take. Check it out on their site at funfitadventure.com
About the region
Tjoritja West MacDonnell National Park stretches for 161 kilometres west of Alice Springs. Explore and appreciate the scenic beauty and history of the area on foot, swim in a waterhole, or pitch a tent for a longer stay.
Take a dip in the cold waters of one the park's permanent water holes. The larger water holes include Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge, Redbank Gorge and Glen Helen Gorge.
There are numerous marked walking tracks ranging from leisurely to adventurous. The 223 kilometre Larapinta Trail stretches through the park and offers extended and overnight bushwalks for fit, experienced and well prepared walkers.
The park encompasses an ancient landscape sculpted over time by climatic elements. It is also a refuge for rare and threatened plants as well as wildlife, including the uncommon bird species such as the Peregrine Falcon.
Features of the landscape are significant to the Arrernte people, including the Ochre Pits that have long been a quarry for important ochre pigments.
There are plenty of places to camp in the park, with varied access and facilities. Camping fees apply and overnight visitors should bring their own water supplies. Commercial facilities are available at Glen Helen Resort.
West MacDonnell National Park travelling to there | From Alice Springs car, campervan and motrhome access to the Park is via Larapinta Drive and Namatjira Drive. From Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon) the unsealed Red Centre Way (4wd access recommended) connects to West MacDonnell National Park. Simpsons Gap is also accessible via a 17 km sealed bicycle track which starts opposite Flynn’s Grave, 7 km from Alice Springs along Larapinta Drive.
West MacDonnell National Park access | is accessible nearly all year round. The cooler months (April to September) are the most pleasant. All roads can be impassible for short periods after heavy rain.