Your Guide to Glen Helen Gorge

Glen Helen Gorge is a stunning natural chasm located on the Finke River in the West MacDonnell Ranges. The geology of the gorge is thought to be 500 million years old, having been steadily carved out of the mountain range by the ancient river. 

Known to its traditional Arrernte owners as Yapalpe, the gorge has also been culturally significant for tens of thousands of years. As a permanent water source, it has long served as a meeting place for the people of the West and Central MacDonnell Ranges. 

Glen Helen floaty 129044 Mitchell Cox

Swimming in Glen Helen Gorge

Of all the gorges around Alice Springs and throughout Central Australia, Glen Helen Gorge is one of the best for swimming. The pristine waterhole sits at the base of sheer cliffs of quartzite that are a bright red in the sun and shift through darker hues in the evening. Floating on the calm water, you will also have a stunning view through the chasm and out towards the ranges. 

If you want to take a rest, you can also soak up the sun or sit in the shade on the soft sandy banks of the waterhole. If you watch carefully, you might catch a glimpse of rare native animals that have relied on the water for millennia. 

When swimming at the gorge, visitors should always enter the water by walking. Depths at the waterhole vary, so jumping in can be very dangerous. Parents should also watch their children closely. The water temperature can be freezing even during so test the water before going in.

Glen Helen Accommodation

Glen Helen Accommodation

Please note the accommodation and facilities at Discovery Parks - Glen Helen are currently closed 

All Glen Helen Gorge accommodation options are offered by a commercial provider, Discovery Parks - Glen Helen. Visitors have the option of staying at Glen Helen resort or the adjacent caravan park and campsites. Discovery Parks offers an array of rooms catering for everything from one person to a whole family. The facilities include:

  • Restaurant
  • Bar/bistro
  • Swimming pool
  • Retail shop
  • Outdoor terrace
  • Fuel
  • Mereenie Loop passes

Discovery Parks also offers many camping sites. Visitors to the campground have access to the facilities above, as well as the following:

  • Camp kitchens
  • BBQs
  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Water
  • Powered and unpowered sites 

Prices for motel rooms and campsites vary and enquiries should be directed to Discovery Parks. The facilities at the motel and campsites cover all essentials needed for a stay. Therefore, all you need to bring is your camping equipment, as well as suitable clothing and sun protection for your daytime adventures. 

Glen Helen Gorge couple

How to Get there

Alice Springs to Glen Helen Gorge is a 132km trip running along Namatjira Drive. The Glen Helen-Alice Springs journey is accessible to all vehicles, including caravans. 

It is also possible to hike to Glen Helen Gorge via the Larapinta Trail. Glen Helen Gorge is 4.5km from the Finke River Trailhead, which marks the start of section 10 of the trail.


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