#4. Alice Springs to Uluru itinerary when driving
Here are some destinations you can visit on your way to Uluru – some are right along your path and others require a short detour.
Hot Air Ballooning in Alice Springs, Northern Territory
Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the West MacDonnell Ranges from a hot air balloon. You’ll slowly drift over the desert with the rising sun, taking in the full spectrum of colour as the rugged plains come alive with kangaroos, dingoes, wallabies and other native wildlife. Hot air balloon companies include Outback Ballooning, RedBalloon, and Spinifex Ballooning.
Owen Springs Reserve, Northern Territory
Distance from Alice Springs to Owen Springs Reserve: 74 km (56 minutes)
Camping, birdwatching and swimming in waterholes – what’s not to love about this paradise that’s far removed from civilisation? Owens Springs Reserve used to be a cattle ranch, but opened to visitors in 2003 after the Northern Territory government purchased the land.
If you’re planning to drive through the reserve, you need a high-clearance 4WD (engaged in 4WD mode) as parts of the track are challenging and a normal car could get trapped.
Be mindful there are no facilities on the land, you should bring plenty of drinking water and snacks.
Watarrka National Park, Northern Territory
Distance from Owens Springs Reserve to Watarrka National Park: 244 km (2 hours 30 minutes)
Watarrka National Park is one of the outback’s best kept secrets, located between Alice Springs and Uluru. Stretch your legs by walking among the towering sandstone gorges that provide sanctuary to native wildlife big and small – including 60 rare plant species! There are permanent water holes to appreciate too.
Two-wheel drive vehicles can enter the park via sealed roads on the Stuart and Lasseter highways. However, a 4WD is recommended for other routes.
There are plenty of facilities, such as picnic areas, drinking water, wheelchair access and public toilets.
If you’re looking for somewhere to rest your head for the night, be aware that camping isn’t permitted in the National Park (if you arrange this yourself). But you can’t go wrong by staying at Kings Creek Station, which has approved camping, bush tent and luxury tent options. Give their famous camel burgers a try too!
There’s also camping, caravanning, glamping, and lodging at Kings Canyon Resort – where you’ll get to watch a movie under the luminous desert stars.
Mount Conner Lookout, Northern Territory
Distance from Watarrka National Park to Mount Conner: 204 km (2 hours and 18 minutes)
Meet Mount Conner, Uluru’s smaller (but no less impressive) cousin. It’s as ancient as Uluru, and connected to the same rock formation beneath the ground. But that’s where the similarities end. Mount Conner looks like a horseshoe, with a flat (not round) top.
Visitors approaching from the Lasseter Highway often think they’ve reached their final destination – until the differences become obvious. Consider Mount Conner a taste of the wonder to come, as you view the monolith from a distance and continue on your way.
Uluru, Northern Territory
Distance from Mount Conner to Uluru: 147 km (1 hour and 50 minutes)
You’ll never forget the first moment you see Uluru on the horizon, and that sense of reverence grows as you draw closer.
Before exploring the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in all its glory, you probably want to put your feet up and enjoy some good tucker.
There are a range of accommodation and dining options, and naturally, those closer to the rock tend to be more expensive.
Ayers Rock Resort is a popular choice for many, considering it’s only 20 minutes away from Uluru. Choose from a selection of lodging experiences, depending on your preferences and budget. The food is good everywhere!