West MacDonnell National Park NT

The West MacDonnell National Park, an easy drive west of Alice Springs. A long a narrow park, it links various red-cliff gorges running through the red and purple desert ridges and mountains. Imagine an Albert Namatjira painting and you are imagining the West MacDonnells. This was his land. The pale ghost gums against the deep red cliffs, the sandy creek beds and waterholes, and the yellow grassy flatlands are just as stunning as he depicted. Day trip from Alice Springs and scratch the surface of this wonderful landscape, or four-wheel drive off the paved road into rough camp sites on rocky ridges or in the red dirt amongst the eucalyptus trees to really take it in. Even better, spend a few weeks hiking the spectacular 223 kilometer Larapinta Trail over the backbone of the West MacDonnell Ranges. You might even make friends with some dingos.

A dirt road leads down into a valley, the hills covered with eucalyptus trees and red cliff ridges, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

A dirt road leads down into a valley, the hills covered with eucalyptus trees and red cliff ridges.

Tall grasses and a big eucalyptus tree line the sides of the dry sandy creek bed at Redbank Gorge, with the long shadows of late afternoon and a blue sky, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern TerritoryThe textured bark of pale eucalyptus trees, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

Tall grasses and a big eucalyptus tree line the sides of the dry sandy creek bed at Redbank Gorge, with the long shadows of late afternoon and a blue sky; The textured bark of pale eucalyptus trees.

Redbank Gorge in the cool shade of late afternoon, with it's dry sandy creek bed, surrounded by grasses, eucalyptus trees and high red cliffs, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

Redbank Gorge in the cool shade of late afternoon, with it’s dry sandy creek bed, surrounded by grasses, eucalyptus trees and high red cliffs.

A pale ghost gum with tufts of dried grass amongst the red rocks and cliffs of Redbank Gorge, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern TerritoryA dingo confidently walks down the center of Redbank Gorge across the sandy dry creek bed in the cool of late afternoon, the sun having vanished from the depths of the gorge, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

A pale ghost gum with tufts of dried grass amongst the red rocks and cliffs of Redbank Gorge; A dingo confidently walks down the center of Redbank Gorge across the sandy dry creek bed in the cool of late afternoon, the sun having vanished from the depths of the gorge.

Amongst the long pale grass a narrow foot-worn path winds around the trunks of large eucalyptus trees and heads deeper into Redbank Gorge, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

Amongst the long pale grass a narrow foot-worn path winds around the trunks of large eucalyptus trees and heads deeper into Redbank Gorge.

A very thin and tall pale ghost gum grows amongst the native grasses against the deep red cliffs of Redbank Gorge, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern TerritoryA curious dingo stands on the large sandy rocks along the edge of the dry creek bed, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

A very thin and tall pale ghost gum grows amongst the native grasses against the deep red cliffs of Redbank Gorge; A curious dingo stands on the large sandy rocks along the edge of the dry creek bed.

Long pale grasses with red rocks and eucalyptus trees around the edges of Redbank Gorge, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

Long pale grasses with red rocks and eucalyptus trees around the edges of Redbank Gorge.

Surrounded by eucalyptus trees, a man strolls along the sandy bed of the dry creek deep within Redbank Gorge, by mid afternoon the sun no longer reaches into the gorge and cool shade envelopes everything, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

Surrounded by eucalyptus trees, a man strolls along the sandy bed of the dry creek deep within Redbank Gorge, by mid afternoon the sun no longer reaches into the gorge and cool shade envelopes everything.

Different types of eucalyptus trees bend amongst the long pale grass beside the dry creek bed in Redbank Gorge, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

Different types of eucalyptus trees bend amongst the long pale grass beside the dry creek bed in Redbank Gorge.

A thin dead tree in front of tall jagged red cliffs with eucalyptus trees growing out of them and blue skies beyond on the back side of the Mt Sonder Lookout, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern TerritoryLooking across the landscape from the Mt Sonder Lookout over dry grasses, a rare flowing creek, and eucalyptus trees to the distant mountains, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

A thin dead tree in front of tall jagged red cliffs with eucalyptus trees growing out of them and blue skies beyond on the back side of the Mt Sonder Lookout; Looking across the landscape from the Mt Sonder Lookout over dry grasses, a rare flowing creek, and eucalyptus trees to the distant mountains.

Looking through the rough bark of a tree along the trail to Ormiston Gorge, to a hillside covered in pale grasses, thin trees and blue sky, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

Looking through the rough bark of a tree along the trail to Ormiston Gorge, to a hillside covered in pale grasses, thin trees and blue sky.

The sun shines on small trees amongst the tall yellow grass on the trail to Ormiston Gorge, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

The sun shines on small trees amongst the tall yellow grass on the trail to Ormiston Gorge.

Looking past trees to a hilltop with traces of the red ridges distinctive of this range and a river with red cliffs at the base near Ormiston Gorge, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

Looking past trees to a hilltop with traces of the red ridges distinctive of this range and a river with red cliffs at the base near Ormiston Gorge.

Looking past a thin tree growing on the side of the path to Ormiston Gorge to a landscape with rounded hills and a tree-lined river carving its way through, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern TerritoryInside Ormiston Gorge an alert dingo stands on the sandy beach and looks into a pool of water at the base of jagged cliffs, hoping to spy a fish to catch, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

Looking past a thin tree growing on the side of the path to Ormiston Gorge to a landscape with rounded hills and a tree-lined river carving its way through; Inside Ormiston Gorge an alert dingo stands on the sandy beach and looks into a pool of water at the base of jagged cliffs, hoping to spy a fish to catch.

A red flowering native plant grows near the bottom of Ormiston Gorge in front of red cliffs, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

A red flowering native plant grows near the bottom of Ormiston Gorge in front of red cliffs.

A hillside covered with eucalyptus trees and spinifex grasses on top of the high red cliffs of Ormiston Gorge, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern TerritoryA rocky dirt path through the grasses and yellow-leaved shrubs running along the side of Ormiston Gorge, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

A hillside covered with eucalyptus trees and spinifex grasses on top of the high red cliffs of Ormiston Gorge; A rocky dirt path through the grasses and yellow-leaved shrubs running along the side of Ormiston Gorge.

Looking down on Ormiston Gorge carved out of the landscape with its high red cliffs, sandy beaches, waterholes and the long shadows of eucalyptus trees, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

Looking down on Ormiston Gorge carved out of the landscape with its high red cliffs, sandy beaches, waterholes and the long shadows of eucalyptus trees.

Shade from the high cliffs of Ormiston Gorge casts shade over the rocky red dirt path and pure white ghost gum, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern TerritoryLooking down on one of Ormiston Gorge's sandy beaches to a waterhole and the long shadows of eucalyptus trees, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

Shade from the high cliffs of Ormiston Gorge casts shade over the rocky red dirt path and pure white ghost gum; Looking down on one of Ormiston Gorge’s sandy beaches to a waterhole and the long shadows of eucalyptus trees.

A tourist couple hike along the path running the length of Ormiston Gorge amongst tall grasses and spinifex, the tall red cliffs looking like a deep gash in the landscape, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

A tourist couple hike along the path running the length of Ormiston Gorge amongst tall grasses and spinifex, the tall red cliffs looking like a deep gash in the landscape.

A eucalyptus tree on a pale yellow grassy hill with a deep blue sky behind, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern TerritoryRock shelves angled towards each other at the bottom of the Ormiston Gorge cliffs, with thin pale ghost gums, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

A eucalyptus tree on a pale yellow grassy hill with a deep blue sky behind; Rock shelves angled towards each other at the bottom of the Ormiston Gorge cliffs, with thin pale ghost gums.

A large square boulder sits near the bottom of Ormiston Gorge amongst the spinifex and ghost gums with very high red cliffs behind, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

A large square boulder sits near the bottom of Ormiston Gorge amongst the spinifex and ghost gums with very high red cliffs behind.

Eucalyptus trees grow out of sand and rocks in the cool shade at the base of Ormiston Gorge, the high red cliffs behind in the distance, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern TerritoryAn alert and slightly wet dingo stands on angled dark brown rocks at the base of the Ormiston Gorge cliffs, looking into a waterhole hoping to find fish to eat, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

Eucalyptus trees grow out of sand and rocks in the cool shade at the base of Ormiston Gorge, the high red cliffs behind in the distance; An alert and slightly wet dingo stands on angled dark brown rocks at the base of the Ormiston Gorge cliffs, looking into a waterhole hoping to find fish to eat.

Large boulders and rock shelves with thin pale ghost gums and high red cliffs at the bottom of Ormiston Gorge, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

Large boulders and rock shelves with thin pale ghost gums and high red cliffs at the bottom of Ormiston Gorge.

A wet dingo emerges from the long grass and walks across the sandy creek bed to a reflective pool of brown water inside Ormiston Gorge, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

A wet dingo emerges from the long grass and walks across the sandy creek bed to a reflective pool of brown water inside Ormiston Gorge.

A thin pale ghost gum grows out of a cliff in the shade at the sandy bottom of Ormiston Gorge, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

A thin pale ghost gum grows out of a cliff in the shade at the sandy bottom of Ormiston Gorge.

A thin and dingo walks along the sandy beach at the edge of a waterhole inside Ormiston Gorge, the eucalyptus-filled bushland behind it, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

A thin and dingo walks along the sandy beach at the edge of a waterhole inside Ormiston Gorge, the eucalyptus-filled bushland behind it.

Deep and narrow red cliff gorges at Glen Helen surrounded by tall pale grass and eucalyptus trees, deep shade in the crevasse between the red rock, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern TerritoryScattered orange rocks and a scrubby tree at the top of a cliff near Serpentine Gorge, looking down over a bush landscape with purple and red hills, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

Deep and narrow red cliff gorges at Glen Helen surrounded by tall pale grass and eucalyptus trees, deep shade in the crevasse between the red rock; Scattered orange rocks and a scrubby tree at the top of a cliff near Serpentine Gorge, looking down over a bush landscape with purple and red hills.

A small pebbly waterhole inside Serpentine Gorge in the cool shade, filled with different types of eucalyptus trees growing from the water as the cliffs behind glow red with the last reflected light of the day, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

A small pebbly waterhole inside Serpentine Gorge in the cool shade, filled with different types of eucalyptus trees growing from the water as the cliffs behind glow red with the last reflected light of the day.

A ghost gum looks silver beside a waterhole at Serpentine Gorge in the cool late afternoon light as the cliffs behind still hold traces of glowing red, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern TerritoryThe last golden sunlight of the day holds onto the tips of a eucalyptus tree near the bottom of a darkened Serpentine Gorge, with its dry river and red cliffs, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

A ghost gum looks silver beside a waterhole at Serpentine Gorge in the cool late afternoon light as the cliffs behind still hold traces of glowing red; The last golden sunlight of the day holds onto the tips of a eucalyptus tree near the bottom of a darkened Serpentine Gorge, with its dry river and red cliffs.

From the top of Serpentine Gorge looking across a landscape of grasses and bushland towards hills with the distinctive red and purple rocky ridge lines of this desert range, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory

From the top of Serpentine Gorge looking across a landscape of grasses and bushland towards hills with the distinctive red and purple rocky ridge lines of this desert range.

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