Without a doubt a couple of the must do activities when visiting Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park is to enjoy an Uluru sunrise and Uluru sunset.
This guide will go over the official sunrise and sunset spots of Uluru, give tips on how to best enjoy a sunrise & sunset, and also show some time-lapse videos of each location. When it comes to an overview of sunrises and sunsets in Uluru, this post will have it all for you.
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1) Uluru Sunrise & Sunset Facts & Tips
» There is one official Uluru sunrise spot and one official Uluru sunset spot. Both of these locations are set within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
» To enter the National Park, you must purchase tickets, either beforehand or at the entrance itself. I would recommend purchasing ahead of your visit to save some time. You can purchase tickets through the official Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park website.
» The National Park’s hours are set to give you just enough time to enjoy sunrise and sunset. That means the park opens around 1-1.5 hours before sunrise and closes 1-1.5 hours after sunset depending on time of year.
» In the early hours of the morning, there will be a line of cars waiting at the park’s gates. I would advise arriving even up to 30+ minutes before opening so you can be at the front of the line and have adequate time to experience the full sunrise.
» At both the official sunrise and sunset spots, you will have the sun at your back. That means for sunrise, you will get to see the first rays of light hit the rock, and for sunset you will see the last rays of light brighten up the rock.
» You can also do the reverse – visit the official sunset spot for sunrise or visit the official sunrise spot for sunset. When doing so you will see the sun coming up behind the rock and going down behind the rock, making Uluru a silhouette out in the distance.
⇔ I did all four combinations so I will give you my recommendations for the best viewing experience
» Be sure to bring a fly net for your time around the area. While the mornings can be a bit cooler without flies, the daytime and sunsets can have plenty of flies all around.
⇔ Fly Net Recommendation | Benvo Head Net
⇔ Fly Net Hat Recommendation | USHAKE Net Hat
» A sunrise and sunset tip for all occasions – it is not necessarily just the moment the sun rises or sets that you should be aiming for.
During the ~30 minutes before/after the sun rises and sets is usually the best time to see the sky change color and capture the best photographs.
2) How to Get to Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park
If you are not familiar with the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park area, below are some helpful notes to point out to better explain the area around the National Park:
♦ Uluru / Ayers Rock is the name of the massive ancient rock formation
♦ Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park is the name of the national park where Uluru/Ayers Rock is located
♦ Yulara is the name of the closest town to the National Park (10 minute drive to the park entrance)
♦ Ayers Rock Airport is the closest airport to Yulara (10 minute drive into town)
So, in order to enjoy those Uluru sunsets and sunrises, you will want to base yourself in the town of Yulara.
From there you can make your way into the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park and to the official viewing area parking lots.
To get to Yulara though, below are some of the options to choose from:
1) Fly into Ayers Rock Airport, take the free shuttle bus to Yulara, and rent a car from Yulara
2) Fly into Ayers Rock Airport, take the free shuttle bus to Yulara, and take the hop on hop off bus into the National Park
4) Join a multi day tour from Alice Springs or Yulara that can take you to many of the main sites over the course of a few days
⇒ Thinking about renting your own car? Head on over to the Central Tourism Australia to secure your car rental. It may include unlimited mileage and free one way transfers for Alice Springs depending on car rental length.
Be sure to check out the Uluru Car Rental Guide I have on the site to learn more!
⇒If the car rental guide doesn’t work for you, feel free to check out Rentalcars.com. You can filter by car type, price, and more to find the perfect car for your trip.
⇒ To learn about the internal bus service you can check out the Uluru Hop On Hop Off website.
3) Where to Stay in Yulara
The most realistic place to stay when visiting Uluru-Kata Tjuta would be the town of Yulara.
The entire town 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.
Below are a few of the places you can choose from:
Looking for a budget option? The Outback Pioneer Lodge has some shared room options.
4) Sunrise and Sunset Map
Below I have pinpointed the official Uluru sunrise and sunset spots in the National Park along with the town of Yulara and the entrance to the park.
» The drive from Yulara to park entrance is 10 minutes and then another 20 minutes to the sunrise spot (30 minute drive altogether)
» The drive from the sunset spot to the park entrance is 10 minutes plus another 10 minutes back to Yulara (20 minute drive altogether)
You will want to take that into account when deciding what time to leave in the morning and come back at day’s end.
5) Sunrise & Sunset Times
Below is a helpful chart I put together that shows the sunrise and sunset times for Uluru by month. I set it up so you can compare the times against the opening hours of the park.
Depending on the time of year and the time of month, you will have anywhere around 1-1.5 hours between sunrise/sunset and the opening/closing of the park itself.
Be sure to check the exact times though for your trip dates to better prepare.
For example if visiting in June, sunrise is always around 7:25AM – 7:30AM. The opening of the park is at 6:30AM, meaning you will just have an hour to spare altogether if you enter the park immediately at opening.
If visiting at the end of February though when sunrise is around 6:40AM, you will have some more time to spare (1:40) since the park opens at 5:00AM in February.
6) Sunrise & Sunset Tours
If you do not have a car when visiting the Yulara area, your best bet to enjoy sunrise and sunset is to either use the hop on / hop off bus mentioned earlier in the guide, or join one or more of the highly rated Uluru sunrise / sunset tours that are offered in the area.
Below I have highlighted a couple options for each sunrise and sunset that you can sign up for ahead of time to secure your spot.
Uluru Sunrise Tour: Guided Uluru Walking Tour at Sunrise with Light Breakfast | Uluru Base Segway Tour at Sunrise
7) Uluru Sunrise
Below I go into more detail on what you should expect to experience as part of an Uluru sunrise. I talk about both a sunrise at the official sunrise spot as well as a sunrise at the official sunset spot.
Uluru Sunrise at Official Sunrise Spot
At the official Uluru sunrise spot of Talinguru Nyakunytjaku, you will get to experience the first rays of light hit Uluru.
Now, don’t expect the entire rock to light up immediately. Rather, you will see the top of Uluru slowly be hit with light, and then the sun will slowly begin to make its way down the rock.
The Uluru sunrise spot is home to a short circular walking trail. This means, you can either decide to watch sunrise from the trail or from the main multi-level platform located in the middle of the circular path.
For sunrise I decided to head on the trail to a spot where some other people were gathering (pinned on the map above).
While the area was nice, open and quiet, it was a bit more difficult to see Kata Tjuta, which is even further out in the distance.
On the other hand, the angle from the viewing platform has a better vantage point since it is elevated. However, it will be the more crowded choice since that is what most people opt for.
You can take a look below of the view I had from the trail (first image) and the view from the platform (second image).
BEST PHOTOGRAPH SPOT: if going to the viewing platform, my recommendation would be to go the higher level of the platform, in the front right-hand corner. From here is a great angle and you won’t be blocked by anyone
Uluru Sunrise at Official Sunset Spot
If you really want to enjoy a sunrise on your own without the crowds, head on over to the official Uluru sunset spot.
Instead of seeing the first rays of light hit Uluru, you will see the rock as a silhouette as the sun rises up in the distance behind it.
It is not the popular way to see sunrise but if you prefer the angle or have some extra days to spare, I would recommend a sunrise here as well.
The official sunset spot is just one long parking lot with a fence right in front of it. Since the parking lot is ground level, you will see that there are many bushes and trees that can get in the way here depending on where you are standing.
While the area is quite long, I found the beginning of the parking lot to have the better angles.
BEST PHOTOGRAPH SPOT: there are small signs along the fence with some history about the land. One of those signs is named Palya. Heading just past this sign will give you some of the best open viewpoints of Uluru without any taller bushes getting in the way.
8) Uluru Sunset
While a sunrise at Uluru is one experience to have, you also need to make sure to enjoy an Uluru sunset as well. Seeing the last bits of light glow up the rock and its bright red color was one of the best sunsets I have seen.
Similarly to above, I will talk about sunset at the official sunset spot as well as seeing sunset at the official sunrise spot.
Uluru Sunset at Official Sunset Spot
This was arguably my favorite out of the four sunrises/sunsets over Uluru. A sunset at the official sunset spot, gives you the chance to see the last rays of light hit the rock of Uluru.
Just before the sun sets, when the sun is at one of its lowest points, the entire rock turns this bright red color for a couple minutes.
It is a beautiful moment to witness so be sure to pay attention when the time comes. Before you know it, the sun will set and Uluru will lose that red color.
The first image below shows Uluru at its brightest, and the following picture is just after the sun fully sets.
BEST PHOTOGRAPH SPOT (same as above): there are small signs along the fence with some history about the land. One of those signs is named Palya. Heading just past this sign will give you the best open view of Uluru without any taller bushes getting in the way.
Uluru Sunset at Official Sunrise Spot
The last sunset/sunrise opportunity I will speak about is a sunset at the official sunrise spot.
I really enjoyed this spot for sunset as the sun slowly made its way behind Uluru and gave off these bright yellow rays.
The skyline turned to orange and it was a fantastic view of both the Uluru and Kata Tjuta silhouettes.
Remember, here you can decide to go down on the trail or enjoy from the viewing platform. I just went with the viewing platform and was joined by just a handful of other people.
BEST PHOTOGRAPH SPOT (same as above): if going to the viewing platform, my recommendation would be to go the higher level of the platform, in the front right-hand corner. From here is a great angle and you won’t be blocked by anyone
9) Uluru Sunrise & Sunset Time-lapse Videos
While the pictures above can you a good idea of what to expect during the various sunrises and sunsets. I thought it may also be helpful to show you these time-lapse videos I took for each.
The below video has the time-lapse for the four different combinations (sunrise @ official sunrise spot), sunrise @ official sunset spot, sunset @ official sunset spot, sunset @ official sunrise spot.
» Feel free to check out a similar guide that goes over the sunrise and sunset at Kata Tjuta
I apologize for the camera moving around in some of the videos but hope you enjoy it!
I hope this guide has given you a better idea of what to expect at the sunrise and sunset spots at Uluru. If you do have any questions or comments, feel free to write them in below.
Also be sure to check out the other Australia itineraries and guides up on the site. Have fun out there and safe travels.