The West MacDonnell Ranges and the East MacDonnell Ranges known as the MacDonnells Ranges have major tourist icon places of interest within approximatley 100 kilometres  of Alice Springs on sealed roads then narrowing down to recognised 4WD offroad dirt unsealed tracks from then on. Western MacDonnell Ranges tourist places to visit are Standley Chasm, Simpsons Gap, Orche Pits, Glen Hellen Gorge, Orminston Gorge,Ellery Creek Big Hole, Mt Sonder, Mereenie Loop and on the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges tourist places to visit are Trephina Gap, Corroboree, N'Dhalla Aboriginal Rock Art, Ross River Resort in Northern Territory Australia
The West MacDonnell Ranges and the East MacDonnell Ranges are known as the MacDonnells Ranges with the centre point commonly known as Heritage Gap at the commencement of Alice Springs in Northern Territory Australia
Home to the MacDonnells Ranges tourist information guide sites One day sightseeing, extended tours, premium coach touring, overnight to extend camping safaris to Uluru Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta - The Olgas, Kings Canyon, Mereenie Loop, West MacDonnells Ranges and East MacDonnells Ranges in Australia's Red Centre Way in Northern Territory Australia. Hire and rental such as a 2-3-4 berth camper van, 4WD Camper, luxury RV motorhome and selfdrive from Alice Springs to Uluru Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta - The Olgas, Kings Canyon, Mereenie Loop, West MacDonnells Ranges and East MacDonnells Ranges in Australia's Red Centre Way in Northern Territory Australia.  
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The Larpinta Trail in the West MacDonnell Ranges
in Central Australia, Northern Territory
A tourist selfdrive tourist guide and travel information

Larapinta Trail

Situated in the heart of Central Australia, the Larapinta Trail extends over 223 kilometres along the backbone of the West MacDonnell Ranges. This exciting long distance walking track is divided into 12 sections, each a 1-2 day walk. The Trail encompasses some of the key attractions of the Ranges including Simpsons Gap, Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge and Glen Helen. The Trail also links in with other walking tracks within the West MacDonnell National Park, allowing side trips to explore more of what the Park has to offer.

The Larapinta Trail begins at the old Alice Springs Telegraph Station and meanders through many gaps and sheltered gorges, climbs steeply over the rugged ranges, and has numerous stunning views and opportunities to photograph or admire the spectacular landscape. The Trail takes in a variety of desert habitats before rewarding walkers with 360° vistas from Mt Sonder – the highest point and end of the Trail.

Larapinta 223

Wildflowers on Mount Sonder Lookout courtesy of NT TourismLarapinta 223 refers to walkers trekking the whole 223 km of the Trail from Alice Springs Telegraph Station to the summit of Mt Sonder. The full traverse of the Larapinta Trail is a remote and more difficult experience. This represents a suggested itinerary of 20 days allowing for rest stops and side walks. If you are planning to walk the whole Trail, consider your physical ability, allow for rest days, the inclusion of side walks and the need for re-supply of food. You are encouraged to contact Parks and Wildlife to discuss your plans.

Start of the Larapinta Trail courtesy of NT TourismEach section is accessible to vehicles (some by high clearance 4WD only), so you can join or leave the Trail at any of the Trailheads.

You can tailor your walking experience by choosing sections of interest to you and length of time you have to spend on the Trail.

The Trail itself is made up of a range of grades catering for hikers of varying abilities (see walking track grades for the Larapinta Trail). All walkers on the Trail need to have a good level of fitness and must be well prepared and equipped.


Black Footed Rock Wallaby courtesy of NT TourismCamping out under a sea of stars in the outback is a highlight of the Trail experience. Although they vary, most camp sites offer picnic tables and hardened tent sites – all Trailheads have a water supply and some have free gas barbecues (see the Facilities section for more detail).

Whatever your motivation for walking the Trail...the spectacular sunrises and sunsets, the inspiration, the challenge or the window it provides to the varied and fragile ecology…the beauty and grandeur of the Larapinta Trail will leave a lasting impression long after your visit to Central Australia.


courtesy of NT TourismThe facilities found at each Trailhead and designated camping area vary from location to location, the table below gives a quick overview of what facilities are at each location.

Please refer to the Water Supplies section for the location of water.

New shelters are provided at Jay Creek and Finke River Trailheads. Each shelter has a free gas cooker, toilet, Ranger maintained water tank and sleeping platform.

One Day Walks: There are endless ways to walk the Larapinta Trail. You can opt for one of the suggestions below or choose a combination that suits you best.

SECTION 1 - One Day Walk
(Alice Springs Telegraph Station to Simpsons Gap) is a long walk and if attempting it in 1 day you should start or finish at the Geoff Moss Bridge.

This will cut about 5km off your trip making the day 18.9km long (7.5hrs).

This is the best section to give you an idea of the Trail’s terrain as the walking conditions vary markedly and it is a medium grade section relatively close to town.

Euro Ridge provides excellent views of Alice Springs and the MacDonnell Ranges.

If you want to do a return walk to save organising transport, you could walk from Geoff Moss Bridge to Wallaby Gap and back again - 17.2km (7hrs).

Views over Alice Springs from Euro Ridge.
Walking towards Hat Hill Saddle.
Arriving at Simpsons Gap to watch Black-footed Rock-wallabies at dusk.

Simpsons Gap Courtesy of the PJB collection

Simpsons Gap Courtesy of the PJB collection

SECTION 7 - One Day Walk
(Ellery Creek to Serpentine Gorge) is one of the most overlooked sections as a day walk option, which makes it appealing for people who want to enjoy some uninterrupted walking.

This section is a relatively short one (13.8km / 5.5hrs) however it is graded hard and like many other sections of the Trail is very exposed to the elements. If starting the walk from Serpentine Gorge it is well worth doing a side trip up to Serpentine Gorge lookout.

Fascinating examples of Central Australian geology.
Dipping your toes in the cold water at Ellery Creek Big Hole.

Ellery Creek Big Hole courtesy of NT Tourism

SECTION 8 - One Day Walk
(Serpentine Gorge to Serpentine Chalet Dam) is a challenging one day walk as it includes a steep climb to the top of Counts Point, which offers stunning panoramic views.

The walk is graded as hard, starting at Serpentine Gorge and finishing at Serpentine Chalet Dam (or visa versa) and would require a drop off and pick up. Another idea is to park a car at either end. Section 8 is well worth the effort if you enjoy a steep climb and descent and want to be rewarded with one of the best views along the Larapinta Trail. Access into Serpentine Chalet Dam is by high clearance 4WD only, however you can walk out along the access track past the ruins to the 2WD area. Another option is to extend your walk by 6.3km to the Ochre Pits via the Arrernte walk. The Ochre Pits is accessible by 2WD.

Enjoying a well deserved break at Counts Point.
The views over the Alice Valley along the ridgeline. Views of Mt Sonder in the distance.

Serpentine Chalet - looking down at the dam [©Parks and Wildlife Service NT

SECTION 10 - One Day Walk
(Ormiston Gorge to Finke River) is one of the shortest and most popular sections of the Larapinta Trail.

The terrain caters for those of average fitness used to walking long distances.

It meanders between Ormiston Gorge and Glen Helen Resort for just over 10km (4 -5hrs).

You can leave your car at Ormiston Gorge carpark and get a transfer back with Glen Helen Resort (best to book ahead).

The Resort is a great place to end your walk as it sells snacks and refreshments. The scenery is varied and includes a hilltop lookout as well as walking through the dry Finke River.

Walking in one of the oldest rivers in the world.
Having a cool drink or ice-cream at Glen Helen Resort after a good days walk.

Ormiston Gorge courtesy of NT Tourism

SECTION 12 - One Day Walk
(Redbank Gorge to Mt Sonder return) is the only section which starts and finishes at the same place.

It is the last section of the Trail and follows the ascent of Mt Sonder. There are fantastic views all the way, ending at a cairn on the summit. The beauty of this section is you can walk as much or as little as you like.

The climb is slow and steady and although it’s exhausting you’ll be rewarded with great views especially on a clear day.

It starts and finishes from the Redbank Gorge carpark which involves driving for 5km on unsealed road from Namatjira Drive. 4WD is not essential, but it is corrugated and a high clearance vehicle is recommended.

Seeing the bright pink flowers of Mountain Hakea during September & October.
Arriving at the top of Mt Sonder - the 4th highest mountain in the Territory.
Getting a glimpse of Tnorala (Gosse Bluff) from the top of Mt Sonder on a clear day.

redbank Gorge courtesy of NT Tourism

2 days - Overnight
(Section 3)

This is a great option if you want to do a challenging ‘there and back’ walk rather than arranging transport at both ends.

Park your car at Standley Chasm (privately owned and operated, an entry fee applies). It is a good idea to let the kiosk staff know that you are parking overnight and returning the next day. Walk to Millers Flat and take the high route to Tangentyere Junction.

Walk back to Millers Flat along the low route and camp overnight. You may wish to set up camp at Millers Flat and take a day pack for the rest of your walk.

Take your time to walk back to Standley Chasm the following day.

Seeing Standley Chasm before the crowds of midday tourists arrive. Breathing in the fresh air along the high route after a challenging climb.

Standley Chasm courtesy of NT Tourism

2 – 3 days - Overnight
(Sections 7 & 8)

Start at Ellery Creek Big Hole and walk west to Serpentine Gorge. Set up camp and if you have the energy, take the walk up to Serpentine Gorge lookout.

The next day start early and walk the steep ascent to the ridgeline and along to Counts Point.

Allow plenty of time along the ridge and at the lookout to admire the views over the Alice Valley. Camp overnight at Serpentine Chalet Dam.

The road past Serpentine Chalet Ruins towards the Trailhead is 4WD access so a good alternative is to walk part way along Section 9, drop your pack to have a look at Inarlanga Pass and then finish at the Ochre Pits (2WD access).

Alternatively, finish at the 2WD access point on the Serpentine Chalet access road.

Having a long lunch at Counts Point. Embracing some of the tourism history around Serpentine Chalet Dam and Ruins.

 Ellery Creek Big Hole (Courtesy JPB)

Ochre Pits (Courtesy JPB)

2 - 4 days - Overnight
(Sections 10 & 11 or Sections 10, 11 & 12)

These Sections make for a great weekend walk and if you have a long weekend try adding Section 12 as well.

This part of the Trail is very flexible and you can walk them straight through or couple them with side trips around Ormiston Gorge or to Glen Helen.

If you’re fit and only have 2 days, walk from Ormiston Gorge to Hilltop Lookout on Section 11 for an overnight camp. Continue onto Redbank Gorge the following day.

If you’ve got more time on your hands consider camping at Finke River, Rocky Bar Gap and then Redbank Gorge with an early morning walk up Mt Sonder on day 4.

Walking in the shadows of Mt Sonder.
Watching birds make the most of each habitat that you pass through - from the mallee to the spinifex to the River Red Gum lined watercourses and the ranges.

Ormiston Gorge courtesy of NT Tourism

4 - 5 days - Overnight
(Sections 3, 2 & 1)

Start at Standley Chasm (privately owned and operated, an entry fee applies) and walk Sections 3, 2 and 1 to Alice Springs Telegraph Station over 4 or 5 days.

You can then walk from the Telegraph Station into the centre of Alice Springs along the Riverside Walk or take a 10 minute taxi ride into town.

Walking past ancient Cycads around the shelter of Standley Chasm.
Taking the high route to Tangentyere Junction for spectacular views (only for those who really want to get the heart racing!)
Getting your first view of Alice Springs on the way back into town.

Standley Chasmcourtesy of NT Tourism

5 - 6 days - Overnight
(Sections 10, 9, 8 & 7)

Start at Glen Helen Resort and walk to Ormiston Gorge along Section 10. Spend some time exploring Ormiston Gorge and camp there overnight. The next day walk Section 9 over 2 days, and camp at Waterfall Gorge. There is no water supply along Section 9 so be prepared to carry 2 days worth of water. Walk Section 8 in 1 day to Serpentine Gorge and then walk Section 7 in 1 day to Ellery Creek Big Hole.

Taking the time to do the Ormiston Pound side trip without a pack.
Arriving at the top of Counts Point and encountering one of the best views on the Trail.
Taking in the unique geology around Serpentine Gorge and Ellery Creek.

Ellery Creek Big Hole (Courtesy JPB)

6 - 7 days - Overnight
(Sections 10, 11 & 12 or Sections 9, 10, 11 & 12)

Start at Redbank Gorge, walk Section 12 with a day pack and camp the night back at Redbank Gorge. The next day walk Section 11 and camp at either Rocky Bar Gap or Finke River (Section 11 will take 2 days if camping at Rocky Bar Gap or 1 big day if camping at Finke River depending on your level of fitness).

From Finke River walk Section 10 to Ormiston Gorge. Ormiston Gorge is great spot to stay for a couple of days to explore the Gorge and do some side walks. Alternatively you can carry on to walk Section 9 over 2 days, camping at Waterfall Gorge. There is no water supply along Section 9 so walkers must be prepared to carry 2 days worth of water. You have the option of coming out of Section 9 at the Ochre Pits which is accessible by 2WD and an easier place to be picked up than Serpentine Chalet Dam.

Watching the sunset behind Mt Sonder and getting some unbeatable photo opportunities.
Taking a side trip to Glen Helen for a warm dinner and a cold drink.
Camping in the Finke River under a sea of stars.

Ormiston Gorge courtesy of NT Tourism

Up for an Extra Challenge?

2 days - Overnight
(Section 9)

Section 9 is one of the longest sections on the Larapinta Trail and requires walkers to carry 2 days worth of water. There is no tank provided and no reliable surface water along the way. However if you are prepared to carry a heavy pack with a considerable amount of drinking water then this section provides spectacular views. When you arrive at Ormiston Gorge be sure to swap to a day pack and do the 3-4 hour Ormiston Pound Walk… you won’t be disappointed!

Serpentine Chalet Bush Camping Area
Namatjira Drive Alice Springs NT 0870 Australia
Phone: 088951 8250 Fax: 088951 8290
URL: Serpentine Chalet Bush Camping Area

Views of Mt Giles,
Alice Valley and Ormiston Pound from the Lookout.
Catching a glimpse of a Black-footed Rock-wallaby or a Euro as you get closer to Ormiston Gorge.

Serpentine Chalet - looking down at the dam [©Parks and Wildlife Service NT

Up for an Extra Challenge?

4 - 5 days - Overnight
(Sections 4, 5 & 6)

Start at Ellery Creek, walk Section 6 (2 days) and camp at Rocky Gully on the first night where there is a ranger maintained water tank. Next camp at Hugh Gorge. From Hugh Gorge walk Section 5 in 1 day to Birthday Waterhole.

Section 4 can be walked in 1 hard day or a more leisurely 2 days to Standley Chasm. Section 4 and 5 are remote and spectacular sections, but also the most physically demanding on the Trail so it is best to allow plenty of time.

Walking two of the most difficult, but scenically rewarding sections of the Trail.
Taking in the 360 degree views from the top of Brinkley Bluff (or for the worlds best sunrise try camping there!)
Walking from the exposed ridgelines of the Chewings Range to the sheltered gorges around Standley Chasm.

Ellery Creek Big Hole courtesy of NT Tourism

Standley Chasm courtesy of PJ B

Up for the Max Challenge?

Larapinta 223 (end to end): 20 days - Overnight
(Sections 1 – 12)

'Larapinta 223' refers to walkers trekking the entire 223 kilometres from the Alice Springs

Telegraph Station to the summit of Mt Sonder (Sections 1 to 12). It is suggested that you allow 20 days for this remote and difficult adventure, allowing for rest stops, side trips and to restock food supplies. There are no restrictions on which direction you walk. Either way you will encounter some challenging climbs and descents, spectacular views and scenery like nowhere else in the world. Many people choose to walk the Trail from west to east (Mt Sonder to Alice Springs) because they can get dropped off at Redbank Gorge and finish in town at their own pace. However if you are happy to finish your walk at a time set by your transfer back to Alice Springs then perhaps this is the option for you. All of our Trail notes are written from east to west and there is nothing quite like finishing off your walk with the goal of Mt Sonder creeping closer and closer. Don’t forget to organise several food drops along the way and if you are walking from east to west (Alice Springs to Mt Sonder), be sure to organise a pick up from Redbank Gorge before you depart (see the links and contacts page for companies who provide these services). Walking from east to west also allows you to make food drops on the way out to your starting point. This way you will know exactly where they are!

Please feel free to contact us at NT Parks for more information about attempting the entire Trail.

Please Note: All of the above recommendations are based on walking between April and October with 2 or more people.

For more information about the safety and logistics of walking the Larapinta Trail please read the information on our website carefully and purchase a copy of the Larapinta Trail Package for more detail including trail notes and detailed maps.

Preparation and planning is the key to a safe and enjoyable walk. We recommend that all walkers register with the Overnight Walker Registration Scheme.


Ormiston Gorge courtesy of NT TourismLarapinta Trail Current Conditions and Updates - see
Facilities along the Larapinta Trail
Grades of trekking and hiking along the Larapinta Trail
All Larapinta Trail walkers should
Australian Weather Observation for Alice Springs
Food Drops & Storage Facilities along the Larapinta Trail
Safety on the Larapinta Trail





Wildflowers on Mount Sonder Lookout courtesy of NT TourismThe Larapinta Trail Package a one-stop-shop of essential information for all walkers embarking on Larapinta Trail.

Water Supplies on the Larapinta Trail
Suggested Itineraries for trekking and hiking the Larapinta Trail
Camping Gear to buy in Alice Springs


Register with the Overnight Walker Registration Scheme for the Larapinta Trail

Don’t risk your life – plan your walk between April and October

Start of the Larapinta Trail courtesy of NT TourismMaps of the Larapinta Trail - see
Maps of the Larapinta Trail on Section 1 to 12

Map of the Western MacDonnell Ranges courtesy of NT Tourism

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Photographs Courtesy Of: NTTC - Northern Territory Tourism Commission.
Maps Courtesy Of: NTTC - Northern Territory Tourism Commission.
Photographs Courtesy Of: PJ B & M Hutchinson Private Collections
Information courtesy of Parks and Wildlife Service NT for the promotion of tourism for the Larapinta Trail.

Photographs Courtesy of NTTC - Northern Territory Tourism Commission
Information courtesy of Parks Northern Territory

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East MacDonnell National Park and West MacDonnell National Park
in the MacDonnell Ranges in Northern Territory, Central Australia
A tourist selfdrive tourist guide and travel information

East MacDonnell National Park and West MacDonnell National Park in Central Australia
• West MacDonnell Map • West MacDonnell National Park • East MacDonnell National-Park
• East MacDonnell Map

West MacDonnell National Park and surrounding areas
• Larapinta Trail • Glen Helen Gorge • Glen Helen Lodge accommodation • Ellery Creek Big Hole • Ochre Pits • Ormiston Gorge • Redbank Gorge Waterhole • Roma Gorge • Serpentine Chalet • Serpentine Gorge • Simpsons Gap • Standley Chasm • Honeymoon Gap • Palm Valley

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• Arltunga Historical Reserve and hotel or camping • Trephina Gorge • Emily Jessie Gap • Corroboree Rock • Ross River Resort • Ruby Gap • N'Dhala Gorge Nature Reserve • Gemtree • Chambers Pillar • Rainbow Valley

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