Travel just 18 kilometres west of Alice Springs and you’ll discover the towering red rock cliffs of Simpsons Gap. Located in the Tjoritja / West MacDonnell National Park, Simpsons Gap is a place of rare beauty with an abundance of wildlife to look out for. Rock wallabies can be spotted along the walking tracks and large areas of mulga are dotted with ancient plants native to the area.
Simpsons Gap is known as Rungutjirpa to the Arrernte Aboriginal people and is the mythological home of giant goanna ancestors. This makes the area an important spiritual site. The canyon’s rich colours of ochre and red, and picturesque waterhole will leave you wanting more. So with its proximity to Alice Springs, Simpsons Gap is a great place to start your West MacDonnell Ranges adventure.
On arrival, you’ll find the Visitor Information Centre just past the entrance gate. Displays here provide a good introduction to help you plan your visit. Self-guiding pamphlets are available. You’ll need to follow the road a further 6km from the info centre to reach the car park. It’s then a 15-minute walk to the Gap. There are plenty of facilities onsite including barbeques, picnic areas, shelters and toilets.
You can choose from several Simpsons Gap walks offering views of the gorge and a chance to spot rare flora and fauna. All walks are well-marked. Walking at dawn or dusk will give you the greatest chance of spotting the black-footed rock wallaby.
The short 15-minute Ghost Gum walk focuses on native plants of the area. Whilst the longer Cassia Hill walk (1.7km/1 hour) delivers elevated views of Simpsons Gap. For walking enthusiasts, there’s the Woodland Trail (17km) to Bond Gap, and the infamous long-distance Larapinta Trail also passes through this way. Note that camping at Simpsons Gap is only available to those walking the Larapinta Trail.
If you’d like to join a Simpsons Gap tour, Fun Over Fifty includes visits on all of our packages staying in Alice Springs. From Simpsons Gap, we continue into the West MacDonnell Ranges to visit Ormiston Gorge and Ellery Creek Big Hole.
Simpsons Gap is accessible all year round however you’ll find the cooler months from April to September are the most pleasant.
As with all travel in outback Australia, you should be prepared with sunscreen, water, and a hat, and plan to visit during the cooler hours of the day.
You can reach Simpsons Gap by sealed road along Larapinta Drive, west of Alice Springs. There is also a cycling path covering the 17-kilometre journey.
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