Alice Springs Day Trips: Ultimate Guide to Desert Delights!

Alice Springs Day Trips
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Hey there, have you ever heard of Alice Springs? It’s a smack dab in the middle of Australia’s Red Centre. Not only is it an excellent place on its own, but it’s also perfect for checking out the awesome stuff nearby. You’ve got these famous places like Uluru and Kata Tjuta, and then there’s Kings Canyon and the West MacDonnell Ranges, with views that’ll blow your mind.

We promise you will be energised on the Alice Springs day trips. Whether you’re into hiking, spotting animals, or just chilling and taking in the crazy, beautiful views, these trips have covered you. Join us as we dig into the top day trips in Alice Springs and soak in all the stunning beauty of the Red Centre.

Before Starting, Let’s Know Its Worth Visiting Or Not

It’s worth it! Alice Springs is a stunning desert oasis in the heart of Australia, providing a perfect launchpad for exploring the Red Desert. The town offers a combination of incredible natural scenery and rich Indigenous Australian culture. The nearby MacDonnell Ranges provide opportunities for outdoor activities such as trekking and biking, and Taking a hot air balloon ride provides a truly unique perspective of the desert landscape.

Alice Springs is also known for its clear night skies, perfect for stargazing. The Alice Springs Desert Park offers an educational experience in the wildlife and plant life of the desert. Accommodation options range from comfortable hotels to quirky outback lodges and campsites, offering modern comfort and authentic desert charm. It’s important to be prepared for the desert environment with water, sunblock, and weather-conscious clothing. With proper planning, a trip to Alice Springs will surely be an unforgettable adventure.

11 Can’t-Miss Places Around Alice Springs!

Are you eager to discover the breathtaking scenery and rich cultural history of Alice Springs? Look no further! This blog will showcase ten must-visit spots for an unforgettable day trip. Whether you’re into stunning rock formations or want to explore Aboriginal art sites, Alice Springs has something special for everyone.

West Macdonnell Ranges

A quick one-hour drive west from Alice Springs. Imagine floating in a refreshing, natural plunge pool in the desert’s heart- a memory you’ll cherish from your outback adventure in Australia. And guess what? You can experience that in the stunning Tjoritja West MacDonnell National Park, often lovingly called the ‘West Macs.’ 

This paradise is conveniently situated just outside Alice Springs, offering over 161 kilometres (about 100 miles!) of pure, untouched natural beauty, including some fantastic natural water holes. So why plan a day of water-hole hopping from Alice Springs?

East Macdonnell Ranges

You’re in for a treat if you’re heading east along the Ross Highway. You’ll encounter remarkable rock formations and explore cultural and historical sites along the East Macs. It’s a short drive – less than 20 minutes from town – to reach Emily and Jessie Gaps. Or, if you’re up for a more extended adventure, you can start at the eastern edge of Ruby Gap, about a three-hour drive.

Remember to check out Trephina and N’Dhala Gorge; they’re absolute must-sees. These places boast incredible cave drawings and delightful swimming holes to cool off in. Plus, tours are available through Emu Run, AAT Kings, and Outback Tour Services, making your exploration even more accessible.

Alice Springs Desert Park

Alice Springs Desert Park

Just a 15-minute drive from the centre of Alice Springs, you can shatter the myth that a desert is a lifeless place at Desert Park on the city’s outskirts. This remarkable park combines a wildlife sanctuary and a botanic garden, carefully recreating various desert habitats, including sand, woodlands, and desert riv

ers, all teeming with life.

Here, you can get up close to kangaroos, witness birds of prey soaring freely in the sky, stroll through aviaries, spot snakes and creatures that usually only emerge after dark, and be enchanted by the delicate desert wildflowers. As you explore, you’ll also gain insights into how Aboriginal people source food and medicine from the desert and discover the ingenious ways these plants have adapted to the arid environment.

Hermannsburg And Palm Valley

Take a scenic drive along Larapinta Drive, and you’ll find yourself amid history and culture when you visit Hermannsburg. About an hour and a half to the southwest of Alice Springs, Hermannsburg offers a glimpse into historical and cultural sites. If you’re up for more adventure, venture an additional 40 minutes beyond Hermannsburg, and you’ll reach the enchanting Palm Valley.

For an enriching experience, consider joining a tour with AAT Kings, Emu Run, or Outback Elite Tours. They’ll guide you through these remarkable places, adding a new layer to your journey.

Emily Gap

Just a quick 15-minute drive to the southeast of Alice Springs city centre. The vicinity around Alice Springs is steeped in the Caterpillar Dreaming (Yeperenye) creation story, which narrates how the remarkable MacDonnell Ranges came into existence. It’s said that these ranges were shaped by colossal mounds of caterpillars engaged in an epic battle against their adversaries, the stink bugs. The gaps in the mountain ranges, including the one found at the southern entrance to Alice Springs, were formed when the heads of the caterpillars were bitten off.

Among the numerous sacred sites in the area, the most striking is the caterpillar rock art adorning the rock walls at Emily Gap in the East MacDonnell Ranges, which is located about 10 kilometres (approximately 6 miles) to the east of town along the Ross Highway. Whether you drive, cycle, or opt for a guided tour, this spot is worth a visit.

Rainbow Valley

For the most breathtaking view of Rainbow Valley, you’ll want to be there during the early morning or late afternoon when the sun works its magic on the spectacular cliffs. You’ll genuinely grasp how this place earned its colourful name at these times.

You can hop on a tour from Alice Springs to make your visit even more special. 

Spirit Safaris, Outback Elite Tours, and Sandrifter offer this option. But if you prefer to set your own pace, set that alarm clock early because it’s about a one-hour drive from Alice Springs. Rainbow Valley is reachable by car (though a 4WD is recommended). The first 75 kilometres are along the Stuart Highway, and the last 22 kilometres are on an unsealed dirt track. Get ready for an adventure!

Chambers Pillar

You can make your visit to Chambers Pillar part of the same-day trip or tour to Rainbow Valley. But if you’d like to explore this historical reserve independently, prepare for a three-hour journey along Maryvale Road. During this drive, you’ll also glimpse the Finke Desert Race track.

The show’s star is the 50-metre-high Chambers Pillar, which is impossible to overlook, and there’s even a viewing platform at its base for an up-close experience. Operators like Outback Elite Tours and Spirit Safaris can enrich your visit if you want a guided tour. Take the chance to witness this iconic pillar in the heart of the outback.

Kangaroo Sanctuary

Just a short 20-minute drive from Alice Springs. You’re in for a heartwarming treat at the Kangaroo Sanctuary, run by Chris Barnes, famously known as “Brolga” from the popular TV series Kangaroo Dundee. Here, you’ll meet some of the cutest orphaned joeys, and it’s nearly impossible not to fall in love with them instantly.

The sanctuary is conveniently located just a 20-minute drive from Alice Springs and offers tours on Tuesday through Friday in the late afternoons. These tours, including bus transfers from Alice Springs, last around 2.5 hours. You’ll have the chance to get up close and personal with the beautiful red kangaroos that are a hallmark of the Red Centre. Depending on his filming schedule, you may have the incredible opportunity to meet Kangaroo Dundee. It’s a must-visit for all animal lovers!


The Gemtree Roadhouse and Caravan Park are two hours from Alice Springs. This place welcomes day trippers and is famous for its tag-a-long fossicking tours. Make sure to bring along a towel because you’ll likely get a little wet during the adventure.

As you explore, relish a picturesque lunch spot with views of Harts Range and the opportunity to admire artwork from the Outdoor Gallery on your journey back into town. It’s a unique and enjoyable experience for those seeking adventure and natural beauty.

Finke Gorge National Park

Approximately a two-hour drive to the west of Alice Springs. Another incredible national park just a stone’s throw away from Alice Springs is the Finke Gorge. This extraordinary landscape is home to one of the world’s oldest rivers, a river that has been flowing for over 350 million years. It possesses a rare and ancient natural beauty that is truly remarkable.

Explore Palm Valley on foot or by 4WD, where you’ll encounter a wide array of distinctive flora and fauna, including the vibrant red cabbage palms exclusive to this area. It’s a journey back in time to a world of unparalleled natural wonders.

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Desert Art Trail

Immerse yourself in the captivating world of Aboriginal art by embarking on the Desert Art Trail, starting right here in Alice Springs. Your artistic journey begins at the Araluen Arts Centre, housing numerous galleries showcasing Central Australian Aboriginal art, including an extensive collection of works by the renowned Albert Namatjira.

Take advantage of the Tjanpi Desert Weavers, a collective of over 400 women artists from 26 remote communities, crafting beautiful baskets adorned with seeds and feathers and whimsical fibre sculptures of dogs and desert animals. The Tangentyere Artists are another stop, creating quirky sculptures, lovely fabrics, blankets, and jewellery crafted from recycled materials like metal, wood, and discarded objects.

In Todd Mall, the pedestrianised shopping hub of Alice Springs, you’ll find Papunya Tula Artists and Mbantua Gallery, excellent places to acquire exquisite painted canvases to bring home as unique souvenirs.


How Many Days Do You Need At Alice Springs?

Ideally, You’d want around six days to fully explore Alice Springs and Uluru, dedicating roughly three days to each location. There’s an abundance of activities and sights to see in both areas. However, if you’re on a tighter schedule, you could manage with just two days, although it might feel rushed.

Why Is Alice Springs Famous?

Alice Springs is renowned for being a vibrant and lively outback hub. Its fame stems from its residents’ warm and welcoming nature, the thriving art scene that combines contemporary and traditional forms, and the captivating natural wonders that envelop it. These include the breathtaking Larapinta Trail and the majestic MacDonnell Ranges.

When Is The Ideal Time To Travel To Alice Springs?

For those who prefer milder weather, the prime months to visit Alice Springs are April to September. You’ll find a pleasant equilibrium between summer’s scorching heat and winter’s cold in spring and autumn. The moderate temperatures in these seasons allow for more extended outdoor enjoyment.

Is Alice Springs Hot Or Cold?

Alice Springs experiences a climate of extremes, characterised by hot summers and cold winters. During the summer months, average temperatures typically range from 20 to 35°C (60 to 95°F) and can occasionally spike to around 40°C (104°F).

Is It Cheap To Live In Alice Springs?

Compared to larger cities like Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, living in Alice Springs is more budget-friendly, especially in terms of housing costs. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Alice Springs is just under $1,250; in Sydney, the same apartment would cost you nearly $1,900 monthly.

Final Thought

In conclusion, Alice Springs, situated at the heart of Australia’s Red Centre, beckons with many day trips that promise breathtaking experiences. From the natural wonders of the West and East Macdonnell Ranges to the cultural treasures of Hermannsburg and the mesmerising landscapes of Rainbow Valley and Chambers Pillar, this place has something to offer every type of traveller. 

The Kangaroo Sanctuary offers a heartwarming encounter with iconic Australian wildlife, while the Gemtree Roadhouse and Finke Gorge National Park provide adventures in an unspoiled natural setting. Lastly, the Desert Art Trail invites you to immerse yourself in the rich world of Aboriginal art.

Alice Springs Day Trips is a destination that seamlessly combines stunning landscapes, cultural heritage, and unique wildlife encounters, making it an unforgettable journey for all who visit.

Hi, I'm Md Abid Hasan. The owner & content editor of is a travel blog that covers road trips, day trips, and destinations guide.

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