Tjoritja West MacDonnell Ranges
Tjoritja West MacDonnell National Park stretches for 161km 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 waterholes. 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 223km 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’s 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.
Things to see & do in Tjoritja / West MacDonnell Ranges
- Caravan / Camper Trailer / Campervan Sites / Campsites
- Coach Parking
- Family Friendly
- Interpretive Centre
- Picnic Area
- Public Toilet
- Four Wheel Driving
- Scenic Drives
Disabled access available, contact operator for details.
How do I get to the West MacDonnell Ranges?
The West MacDonnell Ranges begin just outside of Alice Springs, and the major attractions range from 15 minutes to approximately 2 hours drive away. It’s easy to make a day trip that takes in a range of natural gorges, waterholes and lunch spots. Hire a car to drive yourself, or take a tour from Alice Springs.
When is the best time to visit the West MacDonnell Ranges?
The most popular time to visit is during the cooler months of April–September. The West Macs are open year-round, but take plenty of water in the summer months. If you’re camping in winter, be sure to bring some warm clothing for the evenings.
How far are the West MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs?
The start of Tjoritja/West MacDonnell National Park is only 15 minutes’ drive from Alice Springs. Most of the attractions are no more than 3 hours’ drive.
Can the West MacDonnell Ranges be done as a day trip?
The West Macs are a perfect day trip from Alice Springs. Try a drive to Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm and Ormiston Gorge, stopping at Glen Helen for lunch. Hermannsburg and the inner Mereenie Loop make another perfect short trip.
How do I get around the West MacDonnell Ranges?
The West MacDonnell Ranges are famous for their wide-open beauty and stunning landscapes. You’ll need your own car or to join a guided tour to get around. Some locations are only accessible via 4WD, so it's best to plan ahead. Another way to experience the West Macs is to hike a section of the 223km Larapinta Trail.
What are the major attractions at the West MacDonnell Ranges?
The West MacDonnell Ranges are home to the towering red cliffs of Simpsons Gap, the sharp crevasses of Standley Chasm and the natural oasis which is Ormiston Gorge. Popular swimming spots are the waterholes at Ellery Creek and Glen Helen.
What should I bring with me to the West MacDonnell Ranges?
Be sure to pack a hat, sunscreen, a first aid kit, comfortable walking shoes, and swimming gear to take a dip in the natural waterholes. Always be sure to carry plenty of drinking water with you. If hiking the Larapinta Trail, carry a satellite phone or personal locator beacon and ensure you let friends or park rangers know where you're going.
Do I need any passes or permits to visit the West MacDonnell Ranges?
No permits are required in the West MacDonnell Ranges. A small number of attractions have an entry fee.
Where should I go next from the West MacDonnell Ranges?
From the West MacDonnell Ranges, continue west to Watarrka National Park and Kings Canyon, south to Rainbow Valley or east back to Alice Springs. Further to the east lie the East MacDonnell Ranges, which are home to many interesting stops as well. To the south west lies Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.