A Complete Uluru Itinerary | Red Centre Way Uluru to Alice Springs
Are you headed to the Outback of Australia and wondering how to put together the perfect Uluru itinerary along the Red Centre Way from Uluru to Alice Springs? Well, this guide will go over everything you need to know on how to put together the best possible itinerary as well as go over things such as attractions, activities, rental cars, hikes, accommodation and much more.
1) A Red Centre Way Uluru Itinerary
Below is an overview of what an Uluru itinerary can look like. I wanted to list it out first since the rest of this guide will refer back to this itinerary in particular all throughout. Of course, you can add or remove particular activities/attractions but overall it is a great starting point to build your trip off of.
Altogether it will be 3 nights in Yulara, 1 night at Kings Canyon, and 2 nights in Alice Springs. I should also note that you can also do this in the other direction – starting in Alice Springs and ending in Yulara.
Day 1: Arrive Ayers Rock Airport / Transfer to Yulara / Pick Up Car / Uluru Sunset
Day 2: Uluru Sunrise / Uluru Base Walk
Day 3: Kata Tjuta Sunrise / Valley of the Winds Walk / Kata Tjuta Sunset
Day 4: Drive to Kings Canyon / Kings Canyon Rim Walk
Day 5: Drive to Alice Springs / Kangaroo Sanctuary Tour
Day 6: West MacDonnell Ranges Day Trip
Day 7: Depart Alice Springs
» Note: If doing a Red Centre Way itinerary on your own is not something you would like to do, I would recommend browsing through some multi day guided tours around the Outback. This can help remove any additional trip planning on your end and you can just join in and enjoy. Below are some great options to choose from depending on how long you would like to spend exploring:
2) Red Centre Way Map
To make it simple, the Red Centre Way is an area of Northern Australia that spans from Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park up to Alice Springs. It includes highlights such as Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, and the West MacDonnell Ranges. There is just a ton to do all along the Red Centre Way and this itinerary will walk you through it all.
Below is a great map (courtesy of Christallkeks / Wikimedia Commons) that goes over where each of the main attractions along the Red Centre Way are located and it also shows all the main roads that you can drive on in the area. I will be referring to the map throughout the article so be sure to get a good understanding of it for your trip to the Red Centre Way.
3) Uluru Weather
One major decision you will need to make is when to actually visit the Red Centre Way. Whenever I think about when to visit an area I like to know what the temperatures will be like and how much rain to expect during different times of year.
Although the Australian winter is the high season (~May-September), temperatures are much more suitable to enjoy the area. In the summertime, temperatures can reach 100F / 40C, making some activities tough to take part of.
You will also want to consider the rainy vs. dry season. Again, during that winter time period you will see rain at its lowest. This means more comfortable days, less clouds, and better visibility.
Below are some weather charts that will give you a better idea of the month to month temperatures and rainfall around Uluru.
» Need some Australia inspiration? Check out these Australia travel quotes to inspire your travels
4) Red Centre Way Accommodation
The three areas that are mentioned in this itinerary as overnights are Yulara, Kings Canyon and Alice Springs. Below are some options for each one of these places when deciding on where to stay:
The entire town of Yulara is built around one large loop, where you will find several accommodation options, a small town center with restaurants, shops, and a supermarket, and other things like a gas station, emergency services, etc. I will talk a bit more about all that soon.
Below are a few of the places you can choose from although there are several more part of the larger Ayers Rock Resort:
Looking for a budget option? The Outback Pioneer Lodge has some shared room options.
Since Kings Canyon is located pretty far away from any other major attractions, you will only find two potential accommodation options – the Kings Canyon Resort and the Kings Creek Station. The former will have several accommodation options along with restaurants and a market while the later is more so a campground with some other accommodation offerings as well.
Out of the three locations, Alice Springs will definitely have the most to offer from a variety perspective. Below though are just a few highly rated options at some different price points that you can choose from:
Luxury | DoubleTree by Hilton Alice Springs
Mid Tier | Crowne Plaza Alice Springs
Budget | Alice’s Secret Travellers Inn
5) Red Centre Way Roads
On the map above you can see red and black colored roads as well as solid lines and dotted lines.
The red roads are the official Red Centre Way roads. The black roads are the nearest main roads that are not technically part of the Red Centre Way.
You will also see the solid and dotted lines there. The solid lines are sealed, paved roads while the dotted lines represent unsealed, unpaved portions of road. This is important to point out as not every car is made to drive on these unsealed roads and not every car company even allows their cars to drive on them. Don’t worry though, because at the end of the day, there is always a workaround on the sealed roads to get you to your next destination.
To give an overview of what an Uluru to Alice Springs itinerary could like look going on all sealed roads vs. using unsealed roads (which would save some driving time):
A) Uluru to Alice Springs Sealed Roads
1) Yulara to Kings Canyon Resort (Lasseter Highway to Luritja Road / 300 KM (186 Miles) / 3.5 Hours)
2) Kings Canyon to Alice Springs (Luritja Road to Lasseter Highway to Stuart Highway / 475 KM (295 Miles) / 5 Hours)
3) West MacDonnell Ranges Day Trip (Namatjira Drive / 265 KM (165 Miles) / 3 Hours Round Trip + stops)
B) Uluru to Alice Springs Unsealed Roads
If you decide to head on the Mereenie Loop unsealed road, you can change up your itinerary a bit to save some driving time. Instead of staying night 5 in Alice Springs, you can stay at the Glen Helen Lodge instead.
1) Yulara to Kings Canyon Resort (Lasseter Highway to Luritja Road / 300 KM (186 Miles) / 3.5 Hours)
2) Kings Canyon to Glen Helen (Mereenie Loop Road* / 235 KM (146 Miles) / 3.5 Hours) – UNSEALED
3) Glen Helen to Alice Springs (Namatjira Drive / 133 KM (83 Miles) / 1.5 Hours + stops)
*If you decide to go via option 2 on the unsealed Mereenie Loop from Kings Canyon to Glen Helen, you must get a Mereenie Loop permit. These cost just $5 and can be purchased at Kings Canyon Resort or Glen Helen Lodge. And remember – double check with your car rental company ahead of time.
6) Uluru Car Hire
Now that you have a bit better understanding of the layout of the region, you can see why having a car rental is a great option to see it all at your own pace. Renting a car can be expensive in the Outback, especially when you consider things like one way drop fees and limited kilometers on many rentals.
To get around these issues though, you can easily save some money by booking directly with the Voyages Ayers Rock Resort. If you book directly through them (and using the itinerary above), you are most likely going to be saving some money and having a more stress free car rental experience.
By booking with Voyages you will receive free unlimited kilometers on all car hires and will most likely have free one way rentals as well.
» If you would like to learn more about renting a car in Uluru, check out the Uluru Car Hire Guide that goes into it all.
By following the itinerary, you will want to pick up in Yulara downtown or Ayers Rock Airport and drop off at Alice Springs Airport. Note that picking up in Ayers Rock Airport instead of Yulara downtown may have higher costs for some companies.
7) Yulara Helpful Information
Before diving into a day by day itinerary, I wanted to lay out some helpful information about Yulara and Kings Canyon so you can better prepare yourself for your time there. While many people may just say they are going to “Uluru”, there is a bit more to lay out about the area. Below are some key places to note when visiting:
Ayers Rock Airport (AYQ)
The main airport closest to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is Ayers Rock Airport (AYQ). You can find flights from several different cities around Australia that fly directly into AYQ such as Sydney, Cairns and Perth. The airport is also located just 10 minutes away from Yulara, the main town of the area that I will talk about more next.
Yulara is the main town (the only town) to stay in when visiting Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The whole town is basically one large loop filled with several different hotels all around it. You will also find a small “downtown” area with some restaurants, a supermarket, gift shops, gas station and an information center.
Voyages Ayers Rock Resort
This may seem a bit confusing, but the Voyages Ayers Rock Resort actually makes up most of Yulara. The Resort runs several different hotels, a spa, and the restaurants and shops located in the town center. So, if you hear of the Ayers Rock Resort, just note that it basically the same thing as Yulara.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
A 10-minute drive from Yulara is the entryway to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Within the national park you will find the two main attractions of the area – Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Not only will you find these two magnificent rock formations, but you also will find the sunrise and sunset viewing areas for both of them. The map below outlines all the major places to visit when enjoying your time in the park:
To enter the national park though, you can only do so within certain hours of the day (just before sunrise and just after sunset). You will also need to purchase tickets to enter. I would recommend purchasing tickets ahead of time to Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park. These tickets can then be printed out or added to your Apple Wallet on your phone. Once you arrive at the national park entrance you can simply scan your paper or phone and be on your way. If you do not purchase ahead of time, you will need to purchase tickets in a separate car line at the entrance.
Note: for the itinerary mentioned you should purchase a 3 day ticket to the park (sunset on day 1, Uluru on day 2, Kata Tjuta on day 3). The tickets can be valid for up to 5 days at no additional cost.
National Park Ticket Prices
Adult (16+): $25 AUD
Child (5-15): $12.50
Child (0-4): Free
Family (2 Adults + 2 or more Children): $65 AUD
National Park Hours
The Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park hours depend on time of year. It opens early enough to make it to those sunrise points, and closes late enough to enjoy sunset within the park. Below is the latest as of 2020:
8) Kings Canyon Helpful Information
After a visit to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park area, you can spend some time enjoying what Kings Canyon has to offer. Below are some quick notes about the area and what to expect:
» The main attraction here is Kings Canyon itself – a massive rock formation in the middle of the Outback with some stunning views all around. It is home to the Kings Canyon Rim Walk – a 4 hour hike up and around the canyon walls.
» Besides Kings Canyon you will not find much else in the area. Another potential stop could be the Kathleen Springs Walk, an easy 1.5 hour round trip walk.
» Since Kings Canyon is located pretty far away from any other major attractions, you will only find two potential accommodation options – the Kings Canyon Resort (8 minutes away from the Rim Walk) and the Kings Creek Station (25 minutes away).
» The Kings Canyon Resort has a few different restaurant options as well as a gas station and convenience store across the road.
» As mentioned earlier, there are two potential routes from Kings Canyon to Alice Springs. One on sealed roads and one on unsealed roads (Mereenie Loop). If headed on the Mereenie Loop be sure to get the permit at Kings Canyon (and make sure that your car rental company allows it!).
9) Uluru to Alice Springs Red Centre Way Route
Now that you have a bit better overview of the logistics of the Uluru to Alice Springs route and how to go about planning the itinerary, lets dive into a more detailed view of each day.
As mentioned, we are going to start this trip off in Yulara and end in Alice Springs. You can opt to do this in the opposite direction as well if that fits better into your overall itinerary.
Day 1 – Arrive in Yulara
Highlights: Enjoy Yulara & Uluru Sunset
On your first day in the Outback you will want to fly into Ayers Rock Airport (AYQ), the closest airport to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. You can opt to rent a car directly from the airport OR you can take the free shuttle bus service to Yulara (where all hotels are located), and pick up your car in town.
Once you have your car rental, you can spend the rest of the afternoon getting settled into your hotel, buying groceries, and enjoying a walk around Yulara.
Later in the afternoon, make your way to the Uluru Sunset Area. Be sure to get there with plenty time to spare though! Uluru begins to turn bright red as the sun starts to get lower and lower so you don’t want to miss out on the best part of sunset.
» Learn more in the Uluru Sunset & Sunrise Guide up on the site
Day 2 – Uluru
Highlights: Uluru Sunrise & Uluru Base Walk
Day 2 will begin bright and early as you awake for an Uluru sunrise. Once again you will make your way to the National Park entrance, show your tickets and head to the sunrise viewing area (note that this is different than the sunset viewing area).
The sunrise viewing area is set further back from Uluru itself, where you can begin to see the sun light up the rock and also see Kata Tjuta all the way out in the distance.
After a sunrise, you can drive to the Uluru car park. Here is where you can begin the famous Uluru Base Walk. This 10KM / 6 Mile trail will take you all around the rock of Uluru as you get to experience it from all different angles. At some points you will be right up close to it and at other points you will be able to enjoy the entire rock from a distance.
Overall, it is a fantastic walk to take part of and since it is all flat, nearly anyone can walk it for themselves. And if you don’t want to walk it you can also bike ride the trail or even take a Segway tour!
» The Uluru Base Walk Guide will go over everything you need to know about the trail
If you are not up for the entire loop, I would at least recommend taking part of the Mala Walk (same parking lot where you would start the base walk from), and after that I would drive to the Kuniya parking lot. There you can part of the Kuniya Walk. Both of these walks are part of the larger Uluru Base Walk.
After finishing up at Uluru you can head back to Yulara to grab some lunch and relax for the rest of the day.
Day 3 – Kata Tjuta
Highlights: Kata Tjuta Sunrise / Valley of the Winds Walk / Kata Tjuta Sunset
Now that you have explored all that Uluru has to offer, it is time to do the same at Kata Tjuta. Once again you can wake up nice and early and head on over to the Kata Tjuta Sunrise Area. This was one of my favorite sunrises that I have experienced as you see Kata Tjuta from up close slowly lighting up with Uluru way out in the background.
Once sunrise is complete, make the quick drive to the Kata Tjuta Valley of the Winds parking lot. Here you can take part of the impressive Valley of the Winds Walk that will take you through the ins and outs of the Olga rock formations.
Now this walk is much tougher than the previous Uluru Base Walk. There are several inclines and declines throughout and on a hot day it can take a toll on you. With that said though, the Valley of the Winds Walk is a must do in my book with plenty of scenic views all throughout.
» Learn more about the walk in the Valley of the Winds Guide up on the site
If you are not up for the full walk you can also just head to the first lookout point and/or head to the Walpa Gorge – a much less strenuous walk that takes you between two giant Olga walls.
Odds are after the Valley of the Winds Walk, you will have some time to spare until sunset. You can either head back to Yulara for rest of the afternoon or you can stop by the Uluru Visitors Center, where you can relax and have some lunch before returning to the Kata Tjuta Sunset Area.
Day 4 – Kings Canyon
Highlights: The King Canyon Rim Walk
Overnight: Kings Canyon
After enjoying Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, you can now make the drive all the way to Kings Canyon. The drive will take the better part of 3.5 hours as you drive through the Outback.
I would recommend leaving as early as possible (after sunrise) so you can get to Kings Canyon by late morning. Once you arrive at Kings Canyon you can go straight to the Kings Canyon Rim Walk parking lot, where you can start the hike.
The Kings Canyon Rim Walk is an absolutely breathtaking hike that will take you up, around and down the canyon. You will get to experience vast landscape views alongside the variety of rock formations of Kings Canyon.
Besides for the one incline towards the beginning of the trail that will take you up to the rim, the remainder of the path is pretty easy altogether.
» The Kings Canyon Rim Walk Guide has you covered when it comes to learning more about the hike
If you are not up for the entire Rim Walk, your other option here is to just enjoy the Kings Creek Walk that will take you to a nice lookout point down below.
Day 5 – Drive to Alice Springs
Highlights: Kangaroo Sanctuary Tour
Overnight: Alice Springs
For this itinerary I am going to assume you will not head on the unsealed Mereenie Loop road. Instead you will make the 5 hour drive to Alice Springs via Luritja Road / Lasseter Highway / Stuart Highway.
For the most part this is just going to be a driving day. However, if this happens to be Tuesday to Friday for your itinerary, I would highly recommend taking part of the Kangaroo Sanctuary Tour that begins later in the afternoon.
Chris Barns runs an incredible facility that rehabs injured kangaroos from all around the country. During a tour of the sanctuary you will learn all about the rehab process and get to see plenty of baby and adult kangaroos all around.
It will be a memorable experience to take part of and is sure to be a highlight of your time in the Outback. You can sign up for the tour on the official Kangaroo Sanctuary website.
Day 6 – West MacDonnell Ranges Day Trip
Highlights: West MacDonnell Ranges
Overnight: Alice Springs
One of the best day trips you can do from Alice Springs is explore everything that the West MacDonnell Ranges have to offer. There are several attractions that you can stop by, some of which offer just a quick 10 minute walk from the parking lot, while others offer longer hiking options around the area.
During my time in the West MacDonnell Ranges, I stopped by the following 7 attractions:
1. Simpsons Gap
2. Standley Chasm
3. Ellery Creek Big Hole
4. Serpentine Gorge – » Learn more in the Serpertine Gorge Guide
5. Ochre Pits
6. Ormiston Gorge – » Learn more in the Ormiston Gorge Guide
7. Glen Helen Gorge
I won’t dive into each one in this itinerary. Instead, I would recommend checking out the West MacDonnell Ranges Itinerary up on the site that will go into much more detail about each place and what they offer.
At the end of the day though, you will simply turn back around and drive back to Alice Springs to finish up the day trip. If time allows maybe you can head up to Anzac Hill for one final Outback sunset.
Day 7 – Depart Alice Springs
On your last day of this Uluru to Alice Springs road trip, it is time to head out to your next destination. When you arrive at the airport, head on over to the car rental return area, where you can drop your car off before making your way onto your flight.
Overall, this Red Centre Way Uluru itinerary gives you a great overview of everything that the area has to offer. You will make your way to all the main highlights as you enjoy some of the best natural beauty in all of Australia.
I sure hope this has helped you out plan your trip to the Outback! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to add them in below. Also don’t forget to check out the other Australia itineraries and guides up on the site that can be combined into a 3 Week Australia Itinerary.
Have fun out there and safe travels!