Glen Helen Gorge and Ormiston Gorge are the two big shots of the West MacDonnell Range and they're found just 10 miles from each other. If you're keen on bending the knees, the Larapinta Trail also connects the two with an overnight camp option.
Both of these sites have camp facilities and Glen Helen classes itself as one of those ironic outback ‘resorts' (I am sure many a city traveller would be utterly confused by this). It has basic accommodation and camping options and an old bar and restaurant.
Ormiston Gorge, on the other hand, has your usual national-park-style car camping with flushing toilets, showers and a kiosk.
As you approach Ormiston Gorge, a bright ghost gum stands eerily alone high on the mountainside. It nears as you weave in closer and closer and then the trees thin and you front up to the gorge.
Each step towards the gorge, you can feel yourself get smaller and smaller.
Photo Gallery of Glen Helen & Ormiston Gorge
Click to on Photo for Next Glen Helen & Ormiston Gorge Images
This gorge stands tall with dignity as it lays before you a permanent waterhole with sandy beaches.
It constantly lures you to discover around the next bend. Here you can build sand castles and watch Ash, be carried away to feelings of the ocean while being bizarrely surrounded by red walls.
That ghost gum that drew you into the gorge also happens to be the aptly named site of the Ghost Gum Lookout which will give you fabulous insight into the sheer magnitude of Ormiston.
From the lookout you can choose to walk back down the stairs in which you came or choose to continue on to complete the loop walk which will take you deeper down into the gorge and returning along the water.
After exploring Ormiston Gorge, if you can bear to handle more, head over to Glen Helen. A favourite for locals here is to jump on a lilo or noodle and float between the gap in the range which looms like a giant red gate open just wide enough for the oldest river in the world to waft through. Relax outside the bar with an icy drink and gaze across the Finke River at the imposing red wall, soaking up all its perfect imperfections.
If you need further perspective on the area and you have some money in your pocket, then do jump into the helicopter here at Glen Helen.
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