Kings Canyon Rim Walk

Kings Canyon’s Most Spectacular Walk

Of all the possible Kings Canyon hiking you could do, the Kings Canyon Rim Walk is the most famous and most spectacular.

Kings Canyon Rim Walk, Kings Canyon, Watarrka

The Rim Walk is six kilometres in length, and suitable for relatively fit walkers who are able to take on an initial climb up about a thousand (1000) steps to the top of the Canyon.

The Kings Canyon Rim Walk can be completed in about three to four hours depending on how often you stop to admire the extraordinary scenery.

Even though I’ve done this walk hundreds of times, it’s still one of my very favourites.

What to Expect

As you begin to climb upwards you get a sense of what a very special experience you are about to have. That first look into the Canyon inspires you to keep going even though you’re not at the top yet.

The first part of the walk is an ascent of 1000 steps, with several places to stop and rest (and pinch yourself at the amazing scenery along the way)!

There is no denying that many people will find the climb very tough.

However, if you take it slow and easy, you’ll find that the rest of the walk is a pretty easy going once you’ve got to the top!

It’s not long before you go through Priscilla’s Crack made famous by the 1994 movie Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Once through here, you come to the first lookout and an awesome view across the north wall to the south wall of the canyon.

You may have heard of the Lost City; here at the canyon it is best described as a series of sandstone domes which somewhat resembles the structure you might have found in an ancient city.

No matter what you think or imagine you’ll find the views magical. I guarantee they will leave you spellbound.

From the Lost City you continue to wander through the domes and can choose to follow the path out to Cotterill’s Lookout, so named after one of the first tour operators to the area, or continue on the Garden of Eden via one of the most striking staircases you’ll see in the outback.

This is a really interesting side track which wends its way along the steep sandstone banks of Kings Creek to a permanent waterhole from which the overflow spills out into the floor of the canyon.

On your return from the waterhole you’ll climb up out of the Garden of Eden using almost a mirror image of the staircase used on your way down and continue on your way around the mouth of the canyon until you get to the south wall.

If you walk down past the cliff safety sign and parallel to the edge you’ll come to a spot that is great for taking a photo back along the cliff edge to the waterfall.

Once you leave the south wall you are past half way and heading back towards the car park, but wait!

There are still plenty of sights to see along the way.

You’ll be surprised at how many plants are growing out of what seems like stone, and if you read our signs you will find a wealth of information to help you understand just how this can happen.

It’s pretty well all downhill from here but you’ll still see some great scenery until at the end of a ridge line you will start the final descent towards the carpark.

What to Bring

The Kings Canyon Rim Walk is suitable for fit walkers with good footwear

Kings Canyon Rim Walk, Garden of Eden, Watarrka

Here’s our list of must-take items for all Watarrka walks:

  • Water: two litres minimum/ four litres on hot days
  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Hiking shoes, runners or light hiking boots (leave big, heavy hiking boots at home!)
  • Camera. Do NOT forget your camera!

When to Walk?

The Kings Canyon Rim Walk is a walk that most people should only consider doing between May-September.

The walk is mostly atop the escarpment, very exposed and there is little shade.

However, if you choose to hike from October-April (summer time in Australia), remember it’s very, very hot: 38-42 degrees Celsius. That’s over 100F.

Rangers frequently have to rescue people from the Rim Walk during summer because of heat exhaustion. Be warned!!

That said, you can hike the Kings Canyon Rim Walk in the summer (it doesn’t get closed like the Uluru climb), but you need to be sensible.

We recommend you do the following if you’re hiking in summer:

  • Take at least 4 litres of water per person
  • Go early in the morning (about 5.30-6.00am)
  • Aim to be down from the Canyon Rim by 10am
  • Don’t do it if you are NOT A REGULAR EXERCISER!

Kings Canyon Rim Walk, Kings Canyon, Watarrka

The Kings Canyon Rim Walk really is one of the great walks of the outback and something you won’t forget in a hurry.

There’s nothing like a bit of competition and so we are always stirring the park staff at Uluru and saying that Kings Canyon is far better. Once you’ve visited tell us what you think. I know I’m biased but I reckon the Canyon blows the Rock out of the water!!!

More Information:

Kings Canyon Hiking

Outback Hiking – general guide

Kings Canyon Home Page


  • Dorien says:

    Hi Amanda!
    I hope I’m not repeating a question that has already been asked, but I can’t see any comments on my phone – or maybe there are none.
    Your blog helps us make the best decisions about where to go on our trip out here, thanks for that!
    I also wanted to ask you if you have any recommendations as to when to do the walk for the best views and light in the morning, how long before the official sunrise time should we start?
    We are still young and quite fit but do like to take it easy and take a moment to look at the view here and there.
    We’ll probably do the walk this Tuesday or Wednesday, looking forward to it!!
    Kind regards

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Dorien, thanks for your question. Whilst the rim walk does light up in the sunrise it will not detract from your experience if you miss it on these cold mornings. If however you want to see the golden hour then I’d suggest starting your walk a half hour before sunrise. This will give you time to get up on top to see the light bathe parts of the Canyon. Hope this helps, cheers Gary

    • Dorien says:

      Hi Gary!
      Alright, we will think about it, thank you for your answer!!
      Kind regards

  • Marcelo says:

    Hi Amanda! First of all, contratulations for your website, it is amazing and with great info!!

    I’d like to ask for your opinion. I’ll be in Australia during next summer (January), and I was planning do visit the Outback like this:

    1 day at Alice Springs (arriving 10am from Cairns)
    Spend the night and then next day drive to Uluru (stay there for 2 nights)

    I’m just in doubt wheter I should visit Kings Canyon or not.
    I’d have to include a travel day for this, and take a day out from Cairns or Melbourne (which would make a difference for me – first time in Australia).
    Anyway, I’d be willing to do so, since Kings Canyon seems spetacular, but your post frightened me a little bit! Neither me or my wife are regular exercisers, and we are not used to such high temperatures.

    What would you recommend? Is it worth an extra effort, or maybe the risk is higher than the reward?

    Thank you so much!

    Best regards,


    • Amanda says:

      Hi Marcelo, firstly January is VERY hot and as you’re probably from the northern hemisphere winter, it will take you more than three days to acclimatise to our 40 Celsius and above summer heat. Whilst I do not consider the Kings Canyon Rim Walk hard at all, other people find it very hard – especially the 300 or so steps you need to climb at the beginning people call ‘Heartbreak Hill’. If you do decide to do the walk, you need to start very early in the cool of dawn, carry several litres of water each and take frequent rests.

      Kings Canyon is spectacular- we lived there when Gary was the head ranger, and many, many people will tell you they think it’s more spectacular than Uluru. When people write to me with questions like yours, I usually advise them to spend more time in one place and get a deeper experience there rather than rushing about and trying to see everything in three days.

      However, the question you must ask yourself is this: If this is a once in a lifetime trip will you regret not seeing Kings Canyon, even though it’s a three and a half hour drive from Uluru?

      Only you can decide!

      Hope this helps,


  • Amy says:

    I’ve done both Uluru and Kings Canyon before and would definitely agree with you that Kings Canyon was better. There’s just so much to see there as you’re walking. I think I’d even go as far as to say it’s my favourite walk I’ve ever been on.

  • Jacqui says:

    Hi, I was just wondering if there’s anything kid friendly ages 6 & 3 to do at Kings Canyon.
    The rim walk is obviously too hard for them to do.

    Thanks for any advice!

    • Gary says:

      Hi Jac, believe it or not we have seen kids walking this as young as three. The hardest part is going up the hill? Once up it is mostly undulating except for a couple of staircases. However if you’d prefer not to there is a creek walk at the bottom of the canyon that is easy and is only a kilometre or so.

  • Caitlin says:

    Hi, just wondering if the Kings Canyon Rim walk is suitable for someone who is scared of heights? Are there any barriers or hand rails between the parts of the walking track that might be closer to the edge? Thanks for your advice!

    • Gary says:

      Hi there, gosh that’s a hard one. I’m guessing that people’s experiences will vary as to how the vertigo affects them. The climb up and down has steep slopes on one side. Once you get up on top it is relatively flat and it is only near the edges where the fear may kick in. There are no rails. Midway around is a couple of staircases and a bridge, again not too high but all have hand rails. I would say though that if you can get up the climb you will probably be ok providing you stay away from the edges.

      Sorry I can’t really be of any more assistance. Perhaps Google the Rim Walk climb and the Garden of Eden stairs and see what comes up.

  • Andy Parker says:

    I am wondering how long it takes to get to the top – this may be a dumb question but I am wondering if it is possible instead of doing the whole rim walk, to get to the top, take in the views and return back. If so how tough would that walk be – we are going next November. I am in my 50’s but very sporty (I swim three kilometres every time I work out for instance) and I walk and run, but my other half is tall, thin and not at all good if the ground is uneven. I would like her to see this from the rim and then maybe me to go on a bit further. Any thoughts on my plans and on how long it would take to climb to the top for views and return back ; if doing it, we would start at dawn to avoid heat issues.

    • Gary says:

      Hi Andy, November is not the ideal time to visit due to the possible hot weather but if that is what you are planning then you will most likely have to get up early! If the temp is going to be over 36deg you must begin your walk by 9am. It is possible to walk up the descent to the rim and then return along the same route. It is a little quicker but pretty well uphill most of the way.

      You are looking at about 3 to 4 hours for the whole walk or about half that if you choose the descent option. It is uneven ground much of the way no matter which option you choose although many older people still walk it.

      Hope this helps, cheers Gary

  • Teresa says:

    Hi! Thank you for all the information, very helpfull. One question we have, can we do the Kings canyon rim walk if we suffer from vertigo?

    • Gary says:

      Hi Teresa, I guess it depends on the level of aversion to heights. I have recently talked to a couple of visitors who had vertigo and they were able to carry out the walk and simply kept away from the edges. One other though had got to the top of the walk and froze and we had to escort the poor woman down. I would say in your case you can only try. It is possible though to keep away from the edges but I’ll leave it up to you to decide. Cheers Gary

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