RIM walk in Kings Canyon

RIM Walk in Kings Canyon (2024)

One of the most incredible trails I have hiked in Australia is in the Kings Canyon, part of Watarraka National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia. The rugged mountains and trails will make you love the country, especially the Outback. In this post, I will narrate my story and give you the information so you can do the RIM hike in Kings Canyon.

PIN for later reference – RIM Walk in Kings Canyon

PIN for later reference - RIM Walk in Kings Canyon
PIN for later reference – RIM Walk in Kings Canyon

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Three Days Before the Tour

Is it worth the amount I am spending?” I asked two of my colleagues.

One of my colleagues answered, “I did not visit Kings Canyon when I visited Ayers Rock“. I wondered why but chose to ignore it.

Another colleague had said, “You should visit Kings Canyon, and it is very beautiful. And I drove from Ayers Rock“.

With conflicting thoughts, I decided to spend my last savings on the experience. Finally, I booked my day tour to Kings Canyon with AAT Kings via Viator, blaming whoever said it is worth spending on experiences rather than materialistic things!

Did you know that another fantastic and multiday hiking trail you can do in the Northern Territory is the Larapinta Trail? This is surely on my bucket list and one day I will hike the trail.

Previous night of the tour

AAT Kings had emailed me the detailed itinerary for the tour. The pick-up time from my hotel (Outback Pioneer, a fantastic place to stay at, by the way) was at 4:50 AM. I set up two alarms, one for 4:00 AM and the other for 4:10 AM, precisely calculating every minute between 4:10 AM and 4:50 AM. I am all organised and am the best, thinking to myself, I went to bed.

On the Day of the Tour

I switched off my first alarm (4:00 AM), happily thinking about the extra 10 minutes I had for my sleep. I woke up 2 minutes later and checked my phone, only to find out that it was 4:46 AM and that my bus was parked outside waiting for me to be picked up. Oh my God! I panicked. How did this happen? I broke any girl’s record (and I think I should be awarded for this!!) and got ready in flat 8 minutes. Okay, I agree, it’s an exaggeration! I got ready in 12 flat minutes (Wooohooo!).

The bus driver gave me a stressed-out look (Come on, dude! It’s just 4:58 AM) as I ran towards the bus. Clumsily getting into the bus and surpassing all the eyes staring at me angrily (some were picked up at 4:00 AM), I settled on a two-seater with my tripod and huge heavy backpack. After about 2 minutes, we finally started our drive to Kings Canyon.

About Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon is part of the Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia. It comprises massive 100-meter sandstone walls and lush palm trees. The drive is approximately 3 hours from Ayers Rock. And the only way to get to the Kings Canyon is by driving.

  • Note: One can take 2WD vehicles even though 4WD is recommended.

The name of Kings Canyon originates from Kings Creek. It was named by the explorer Ernest Giles after his friend Fielder King. The land is the traditional home for the Luritja people of Central Australia.

Did you know that Kings Canyon is called the rival of Yosemite?

Hikes in Kings Canyon

Just before reaching the base of Kings Canyon, our driver gave us a heads-up of what to expect during the day. He briefed us about the two famous walks:

  • One is the short 2-kilometre return walk at the base of the Canyon and
  • Another is the most challenging 6-kilometre return RIM walk, with 500+ rocky steps and a path at the top around the canyon.

The best time to do the hikes in the Northern Territory is during the autumn and winter (April to August), as the weather is pleasant and not too hot.

Note: Do not attempt this hike during the hot months between September and March.

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RIM Walk (6 kilometres return)

Thirty-two of us decided to do the RIM walk and signed our health declaration forms. I left my tripod on the bus (a good idea) and carried my backpack with two mini water bottles and snacks, including the M&Ms and trail mix.

Ensure that you carry sufficient drinking water for the hike.

The walk started at approximately 9 AM. At the base, I agree, it did look very scary, but I had to do it, no chance I would have backed out. The first 200 steps, I think, were the hardest, and I maintained my slow pace and also took a lot of pictures along the way.

We did have an option to return to the bus anytime between the first 200 steps. All 32 of us were determined to complete the RIM walk and decided to climb the rest of the 300 steps. Some rocks were more challenging to climb than others.

We all made it to the top step by step, one rock at a time. Once we reached the top of the Canyon, we forgot how strenuous the climb was and started enjoying the spectacular views of the gorge below.

The other walk you can do in the Northern Territory is the Valley of the Winds. This walk is as beautiful as the RIM walk in the Kings Canyon.

Kings Canyon

The red rock structures with patches of green palm trees were something to die for. The sandstone walls were a delight for the photographers as they were bright and had pretty colours. I have close to 300 pictures of just the sandstone wall alone.

Logistics of the hike

  • Distance of the hike: 6 kilometres.
  • Hours required: 4 hours.
  • Grade: Moderate to Difficult (Starts with Steep steps).
  • Steps: 500+ steps.
  • Type of walk: Return (clockwise direction).
  • Stay on the track (stairs and boardwalks). Do not deviate from the track, as it can be dangerous.
  • Do not attempt this walk if the temperature forecast for the day is hot.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Take sufficient water.

Tour operator and details

  • Tour provider: AAT Kings via Viator.
  • Tour Name: Kings Canyon & Outback Panoramas.
  • Cost: Approximately AUD 250.
  • My experience with the tour provider: The driver of AAT Kings was excellent. Their tours are well organised and are on time. So I recommend going with this tour agency for sure.

Is Hiking the RIM Walk Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

I would not attempt hiking the RIM walk alone. Not because it is not safe, but because it is so isolated from the nearest city. It is always a good idea to go with a buddy or a travel agency that takes care of the safety during the hikes.

Are you new to hiking or trekking? Read Beginner’s guide to hiking and trekking.

Closing Notes

In approximately 4 hours, just before lunch, we had completed the RIM walk. At the end of the walk, I had a smile and the satisfaction of climbing up one of the prominent landmarks of Australia. And yes, I am thankful to my French colleague who convinced me to do this day tour, as Kings Canyon is worth the day trip.

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    PIN for later reference – RIM Walk in Kings Canyon

    PIN for later reference - RIM Walk in Kings Canyon
    PIN for later reference – RIM Walk in Kings Canyon