West MacDonnell Ranges

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesPalm Valley Campground
FinishAlice Springs
DifficultyDifficulty 1/5
Suitable For4WD AWD 2WD Caravan Camper Motorhome Bike 
Distance297.55 km
Minimum Days2
Average Speed49.93 km/hr
Travel Time5 hrs 57 mins
Page Updated: 14 Mar 2017


There is so much to see in the Alice Springs region that you really need to plan your route carefully. With a 4WD you get the opportunity to avoid backtracking and can reach all the major and lesser known sites over a comfortable 1 week period. If you are a particularly keen walker, photographer or artist you would certainly want to allow 2 weeks or more. Most sites have various tracks to explore ranging from easy walks of just a few hundred metres to overnight hikes. There are countless opportunities for soaking up the surroundings on foot but if you are in a rush, excellent bitumen roads links all the major attractions to within a day's drive of Alice Springs.

This route we describe here is 2WD accessible as it follows the bitumen Larapinta Drive out of Alice Springs passing John Flynns Grave, Simpsons Gap and Standley Chasm, then swings east on the Namatjira Drive to Ellery Creek Bighole, Serpentine Gorge, Ochre Pits, Ormiston Gorge, Glen Helen Gorge. A good dirt road continues the trek to Redbank Gorge, Gosse Bluff and Hermannsburg with a 4WD only diversion to Palm Valley.

2WD Accessible Sights (Walking tracks at all, camping at most)

The walking in the West McDonnells is excellent with quite a few choices depending on your level of fitness or temperature of the day. Walking close to some of the rocks can get incredibly hot in middle of the day, yet there are some gorges better visited at midday when the sunlight shines directly on the rocks and lights up the sheer walls with intense red colours (such as Standley Chasm).

How to Use this Trek Note

If you'd like to download this Trek there are two options:
  • Purchase our app ExplorOz Traveller. This Australian-made GPS & Navigation app will allow you to download all the ExplorOz Treks to your GPS enabled smartphone/tablet/iPad or laptop and enable active route guidance along the route as per the Directions shown on this page. The app enables offline navigation and mapping and will show where you are as you travel along the route. The app also allows you to edit/customise the route. Viewing the Trek in the Traveller app also includes all the words, images and POIs exactly as on the website (excludes Wildflowers). For more info see the ExplorOz Traveller webpage.

  • Alternatively, if you already have another raster mapping software program you can Download this route in GPX format using the button shown below the map on this page .


To purchase our maps for offline use, you will need to purchase the EOTopo 2021 map licence. To install the maps you will need the ExplorOz Traveller app.

TrekID: 40


MUST READ: You are strongly encouraged to read the following articles prepared by the knowledge experts at ExplorOz for your safety and preparation before undertaking any published ExplorOz Trek - Outback Safety, Outback Driving Tips, Outback Communications, and Vehicle Setup for the Outback.


Please refer to Road Reports published by the local shire and/or main roads for the area you intend to visit. Road/Track conditions can change significantly after weather events. Travellers must be responsible for their own research on current conditions and track suitability.



Fuel Usage

4cyl 42 litres4cyl 48 litres4cyl 60 litres
6cyl 46 litres6cyl 54 litres6cyl 52 litres
8cyl 46 litres8cyl 49 litres
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

Closest Climatic Station

Alice Springs Airport
Distance from Trek Mid Point 59.01km E
Mean Max. °C36.435.132.628.223.019.819.722.627.230.933.635.4
Mean Min. °C21.520.717.512.
Mean Rain mm38.643.832.316.318.913.615.09.28.521.429.136.9
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended


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Palm Valley Campground to Lower Mount Hermannsburg
Driving: 13.03 km
Avg Speed: 23.67 km/hr
EST Time: 33:01
Lower Mount Hermannsburg to Larapinta Drive & Boggy Hole Access
Driving: 5.67 km
Heading: 44°
Avg Speed: 32.28 km/hr
EST Time: 10:32
Larapinta Drive & Boggy Hole Access to Hermannsburg
Driving: 0.54 km
Heading: 303°
Avg Speed: 40.05 km/hr
EST Time: 00:48
Hermannsburg to Albert Namatjira's House
Driving: 5.23 km
Heading: 273°
Avg Speed: 30.48 km/hr
EST Time: 10:17
Albert Namatjira's House to Gosses Bluff Meteorite Impact Crater
Driving: 56.18 km
Heading: 287°
Avg Speed: 42.38 km/hr
EST Time: 01:19:32
Gosses Bluff Meteorite Impact Crater to Tylers Pass
Driving: 21.54 km
Heading: 17°
Avg Speed: 40.78 km/hr
EST Time: 31:41
Tylers Pass to Namatjira Dve, West MacDonnell NP Boundary
Driving: 24.14 km
Heading: 64°
Avg Speed: 60.18 km/hr
EST Time: 24:04
Namatjira Dve, West MacDonnell NP Boundary to Glen Helen Gorge
Driving: 20.51 km
Heading: 117°
Avg Speed: 50.16 km/hr
EST Time: 24:32
Glen Helen Gorge to Glen Helen
Driving: 0.92 km
Heading: 343°
Avg Speed: 15.86 km/hr
EST Time: 03:28
Glen Helen to Finke River, Namatjira Dve
Driving: 0.88 km
Heading: 344°
Avg Speed: 58.3 km/hr
EST Time: 00:54
Finke River, Namatjira Dve to Ormiston Gorge and Pound
Driving: 9.48 km
Heading: 44°
Avg Speed: 57.95 km/hr
EST Time: 09:48
Ormiston Gorge and Pound to Neil Hargrave Lookout
Driving: 30.48 km
Heading: 128°
Avg Speed: 55.09 km/hr
EST Time: 33:11
Neil Hargrave Lookout to Ellery Creek Big Hole
Driving: 18.37 km
Heading: 101°
Avg Speed: 61.27 km/hr
EST Time: 17:59
Ellery Creek Big Hole to Point Howard Lookout
Driving: 11.98 km
Heading: 105°
Avg Speed: 37.47 km/hr
EST Time: 19:11
Point Howard Lookout to Hugh River, Namatjira Dve
Driving: 21.63 km
Heading: 92°
Avg Speed: 77.37 km/hr
EST Time: 16:46
Hugh River, Namatjira Dve to Namatjira Dve & Larapinta Dve
Driving: 9.42 km
Heading: 97°
Avg Speed: 81.96 km/hr
EST Time: 06:53
Namatjira Dve & Larapinta Dve to Iwupataka (Jay Creek)
Driving: 5.9 km
Heading: 41°
Avg Speed: 78.88 km/hr
EST Time: 04:29
Iwupataka (Jay Creek) to Alice Springs
Driving: 41.65 km
Heading: 75°
Avg Speed: 54.67 km/hr
EST Time: 45:42
Distance is based on the travel mode shown (Driving, Straight, Cycling, Walking etc), Direction is straight line from start to end, Avg Speed & EST Time is calculated from GPS data.

What to See

Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm, Ellery Creek Bighole, Serpentine Gorge, Ochre Pits, Ormiston Gorge, Redbank Gorge, Glen Helen Gorge, Gosse Bluff (Tnorala), Palm Valley and much more.


Where to Stay

Services & Supplies


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