Alice Springs Day Trips

There is plenty of sightseeing in Central Australia that can be experienced in bite-sized day trips and tours from Alice Springs. Using the town as your base, or visiting without camping gear, does not mean you will miss out on visiting the spectacular mountain-range landscape of the West and East MacDonnell Ranges. 

If you decide to hire a vehicle, ensure you take plenty of food and water, as conditions can change even over the course of a day. A four-wheel drive is required for access to some tracks, like John Hayes Rockhole. You may need to drive on some unsealed roads; read on below and talk to your car hire company about the most suitable vehicle for your itinerary.


West MacDonnell Ranges

A primarily sealed route on Larapinta and Namatjira drives, there are some gravel access along the way, such as Simpsons Gap and Standley Chasm. Depending on the number of stops and how much you do, the trip can last for a half day or full day. Take your swimmers for Ormiston Gorge and Ellery Creek Big Hole, sturdy walking shoes, and a camera. Tours are operated by Emu Run, AAT Kings and Outback Tour Services.

Glen Helen Gorge couple

Glen Helen Gorge

Hermannsburg and Palm Valley

Following Larapinta Drive, a trip out to Hermannsburg encompasses historical and cultural sites. About an hour and a half south-west from Alice Springs is Hermannsburg, and another 40 minutes beyond Hermannsburg is Palm Valley. Join a tour with AAT Kings, Emu Run or Outback Elite Tours experience. 

Finke Gorge NP view

Palm Valley

East MacDonnell Ranges

Head east along the Ross Highway and delve into rock formations, cultural and historical sites that are located along the East Macs. Emily and Jessie Gaps are less than 20 minutes from town, or start at the very east end at Ruby Gap, a three-hour drive. Trephina and N’Dhala Gorge are not-to-be missed, with cave drawings and swimming holes. Tours are operated by Emu Run, AAT Kings and Outback Tour Services.

Trephina Gorge 2

Trephina Gorge

Rainbow Valley

The spectacular cliffs that form this valley are best seen in the early morning or late afternoon sun. This is when you will understand how the area got its name. There is the option of joining a tour departing from Alice Springs, with operators such as Spirit Safaris, Outback Elite Tours or Sandrifter. Otherwise, set your alarm for an early start before tackling the one-hour drive,  Rainbow Valley is accessible by car (4WDs recommended), the first 75-kilomeres is the Stuart Highway and the last 22-kilometres is an unsealed dirt track. 

Rainbow Valley picnic

Rainbow Valley

Chambers Pillar

There is the option to loop a visit to Chambers Pillar in on the same day trip or tour to Rainbow Valley. If you’d prefer to visit the historical reserve on its own, then you’re looking at a three-hour journey following Maryvale Road. You’ll also see some of the Finke Desert Race track. The 50-metre-high pillar is unmissable, and there is a viewing platform at its base. Tour operators include Outback Elite Tours and Spirit Safaris.


Just two hours from Alice Springs is Gemtree Roadhouse and Caravan Park. Open to day trippers, the park is known for its tag-a-long fossicking tours. Don’t forget to pack a towel as you will get wet. Enjoy lunch overlooking Harts Range and artwork from the Outdoor Gallery on the drive back into town.

Gemtree Fossicking

Gemtree - fossicking

Day Tour Operators


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