Rising like a mirage from a dusty red desert, Alice Springs is the spirited capital of Australia’s vast bone-dry outback. The staggeringly remote settlement sits near the country’s geographic center, about halfway between Adelaide and Darwin, NT.
Vibrant indigenous art centers, intriguing museums, and worthwhile wildlife parks enhance the allure of this iconic outback town. But it’s the surrounding sun-scorched landscapes that capture the imagination. From sacred Uluru to regal Kings Canyon and the dramatic MacDonnell Ranges, the Red Center is awash with mind-blowing natural treasures.
The magic of the outback and a strategic central location make Alice a thriving RV destination for long-distance travelers and short-term vacationers alike. As a result, you’ll find excellent RV infrastructure around the region, including dump stations, water refills, and scenic campsites.
Not all vehicles may be available. Use the search tool to check availability for your travel dates.
Renting a camper in Alice Springs is the most convenient and cost-effective way to explore the Red Centre.
Here’s why you should hire a motorhome for your upcoming outback adventure:
Affordable: While hotel rooms cost a fortune in outback Australia, a camper lets you roll your transport and accommodation expenses into one.
Convenient: A camper lets you easily access all your essentials. You can also minimise drive times by pulling up at a nearby campsite instead of returning to your hotel.
Flexibility: A motorhome lets you explore the Red Centre on your own terms. No need to construct rigid itineraries—you’re free to bounce around the outback on a whim.
A closer connection with nature: Stop overnight in scenic campsites and drift off to sleep while gazing at the stars. A kitted-out camper brings you closer to nature than a hotel ever could.
Amenities: From fresh food to clean clothes (and maybe even a hot shower), all the amenities you need are right there in the vehicle with you.
When embarking on a motorhome holiday, remember these essentials when driving in the Northern Territory:
Like King’s Canyon, there’s only one official campsite to stay near the world-famous Uluru. Although on the pricey side, this well-stocked outback spot ticks all the boxes: great facilities and rugged Red Centre vibes. Penny pinchers could stay overnight at the Sandy View Roadside Rest Area instead (it’s free).
Price: from $55 per site per night
Amenities: toilets, showers, potable water, powered sites, bins, bbq, camp kitchen, laundry
An outback classic, Curtain Springs is a popular pit stop for road-worn travellers riding en route to Uluru. With these free camps, it’s kosher to buy a meal or a pint at the on-site roadhouse. Hot showers and powered sites entail a fee of $4 and $55, respectively.
Amenities: toilets, showers, water refills, powered sites, fire pits, bbq, laundry, fuel
As the only place to camp near Kings Canyon, this Discovery Parks branch does a roaring trade. The corporate owners are doing an impressive job of upgrading its formerly outdated facilities—there’s now a refreshing swimming pool. Look for a shady site with views of the Petermann Ranges.
Price: from $30 per site per night
Amenities: toilets, showers, potable water, powered sites, bins, bbq, camp kitchen, laundry, fuel, dump point, ensuite sites
The Red Centre’s most gorgeous gorge has a campsite nearby. While you won’t get direct access to the jaw-dropping ravine, the Ormiston Gorge trailhead is only a few minutes drive away. This nifty spot has a small café and a serviceable Optus connection—a rarity out here.
Price: $12 per person per night
Main amenities: toilet, showers, potable water, bbq
Fancy a free camp with epic outback views? Pencil in a pit stop at Point Howard Lookout. Perched on a lofty hill, this unique spot offers uninterrupted vistas of the sprawling West MacDonnell Ranges. Further down the road, Neil Hargrave Lookout has similar scenery and is also free.
Main amenities: fire pits, bins
For an authentic, characterful homestead experience, it’s hard to go past Ross River Resort. The eccentric owners worked tirelessly to restore this historic spot and have adorned its interiors with quirky ornaments from the outback and beyond. It’d be a crime to overnight without popping into the pub for a frothy brew.
Price: from $32 per site per night
Amenities: toilets, showers, powered sites, bins, fire pits, bbq, laundry, dump point, fuel
The indigenous-led Iwupataka Land Trust operates this superb private flora and fauna reserve, which showcases the spectacular Standley Chasm. Aim to hike the rocky ravine around midday to see the wall’s glow in warm lipstick-red hues. The on-site campsite is a great place to retire for the night.
Price: from $18.50 per person per night
Amenities: toilets, showers, powered sites, bbq, camp kitchen, laundry
About 25 km outside Alice Springs, this easy-going caravan park straddles dramatic ochre-tinged cliffs. Leafy gums provide plenty of midday shade, and the amicable owners will make you feel right at home. Despite the imperfect shower curtains, it’s our top pick in the Alice Springs area.
Price: from $25 per site per night
Main amenities: toilets, showers, potable water, powered sites, bins, laundry, dump point
Over in the seldom-explored East MacDonnell Ranges, this gorgeous campsite sits directly next to the area’s most breathtaking attraction. An enticing network of scenic trails winds through the rugged gorge, which resides just 10 minute's walk from this charming bush camp.
Price: from $6 per person per night
Amenities: toilets, potable water, fire pits, bbq
Woodlands, is a charming little bush camp near the trailhead for the maroon-hued Redbank Gorge. While you won’t get much in the way of facilities, this remote spot boasts rugged outback scenery and gives you easy access to one of the West Mac’s best-hidden gems.
Price: from $12 per adult per night
Main amenities: toilets, fire pits, bbq
Despite its intense isolation, Alice Springs offers all the trappings of a miniature modern city, plus a slew of exciting attractions.
You don’t have to be an art enthusiast to appreciate the colourful creations of indigenous painters.
The government-run Araluen Cultural Precinct is Alice’s premiere arts space with galleries, a 500-seat theatre, and rotating exhibits. A vibrant ensemble of privately-run art centres, including the famous Yubu Napa Art Gallery, operates around town. The Todd Mall Markets is a top spot to purchase indigenous works straight from the creators.
To get up to speed on Red Centre geology, pop into the Museum of Central Australia. Alternatively, the Royal Flying Doctor Service Tourist Facility explains how this aeronautical ambulance operates in remote regions. If you’d rather gawk at life-sized models of enormous, long-extinct animals, check out Megafauna Central instead.
Straddling the Todd River lies the Olive Pink Botanic Garden, a charming parkland showcasing the region’s drought-resistant flora and birdlife. Pay a visit to the Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve to learn more about the town’s foundation. Next, drive up to the top of ANZAC Hill for a layout of the land.
Plane spotters will love the Central Australian Aviation Museum, while the National Road Transport Hall of Fame explains the challenges of moving freight in this far-flung locale.
There’s no need to conquer sweltering hot hikes to meet the outback’s hardy wildlife. The Alice Springs Desert Park houses an eclectic collection of nocturnal mammals and fierce birds of prey. Alternatively, check out the Alice Springs Reptile Centre for scaly, slithering critters.
Alice Springs serves as a convenient base to explore the ochre-red wonders of outback Australia.
Spanning 644km, the rugged MacDonnell Ranges slice through the centre of Alice Springs. The western end boasts the best roads and most iconic sites—albeit with thicker crowds.
Start your West Macs adventure with a wander down Standley Chasm, a striking ochre-hued gorge near a popular outback café. Heading west, Ellery Creek Big Hole is a top spot to cool off with a dip. Serpentine Gorge has a panoramic lookout accessible via a steep 30-minute walk. Next, stop by the Ochre Pits to see how the First Nations People once mined for art supplies.
Heading further west leads you to the iconic Ormiston Gorge. Treat yourself to a refreshing swim after the long, rugged hike through a dramatic ravine. Nearby, Glen Helen Gorge is another scenic spot to hike, swim, and soak up the views.
Energetic bushwalkers can conquer the summit at Mount Sonder—it looks especially spectacular at sunrise. Hit the lesser-visited Redbank Gorge to rock hop through a dry creek bed before reaching a deep red ravine with a pristine swimming hole.
To the south, on Larapinta Drive, Hermannsburg is an atmospheric aboriginal community with historic sites and art museums. Nearby, Finke Gorge National Park hosts the striking landscapes of Palm Valley (you’ll need a 4WD drive here).
Fit, well-prepared long-distance hikers can explore the West MacDonnell Ranges via the world-famous Larapinta Trail. The 230 km route showcases Central Australia’s unique arid landscapes and attracts adventurers from all over the world.
The East MacDonnell Ranges host a smaller yet entirely worthwhile selection of sites.
First up is Emily and Jessie Gaps, an impressive nature park with indigenous rock art and a short hiking trail. Next, Corroboree Rock is a geological oddity and a traditional indigenous meeting place. The big-ticket East Macs attraction is Trephina Gorge, where you’ll find fabulous campsites, rugged 4WD routes, and scenic hiking trails.
History buffs could venture further east towards the dilapidated old gold mines at Arltunga. Nearby, the Ross River Resort offers scenic campsites by a characterful historic homestead.
More often than not, you’ll need a capable 4WD to tackle the rugged and worn-out Meerine Loop (Larapinta Drive) towards Kings Canyon. If the road is open to 2WDs, check whether your hire company is happy with you heading that way and pre-purchase the compulsory $5 permit.
Most travellers double back to Alice, then head south down the Stuart Highway and turn onto the Lasseter Hwy at Ghan. The 3.5-hour outback drive will be well worth it upon arriving at Kings Canyon, a striking red rock ravine with 300-metre-high sandstone walls.
Explore the canyon via the 6km Rim Walk, which meanders through the paradisical Garden of Eden and weathered Lost City domes. The initial ascent is tough—especially in the outback heat—but the spectacular 360-degree panoramas make it entirely worthwhile.
No trip to the Red Centre would be complete without marvelling at the majestic Uluru(Ayer’s Rock). As the world’s largest single-rock monolith, this recognisable sandstone slab is the poster child of the Australian outback. And upon gazing at its golden, sunlit glow, it’s easy to see why Uluru is so sacred to indigenous Australians.
Hiking over the top is no longer permitted. Instead, stroll the 10km Base Walk (or jump on a Segway tour) to see the monolith from multiple angles. Numerous lookouts lie peppered around the region, including sunrise and sunset viewing areas.
A quick drive west leads you to Kata Tjuta (or The Olgas), a string of steep domes with wildflowers and narrow shady ravines. The 7.4 km Valley of the Winds trail snakes through the spectacular sandstone terrain—it’s one of the Red Centre’s most scenic short walks.
Wondering where to go on your Red Centre campervan adventure?
We’re covering the region’s ten most unmissable outback attractions.
Ellery Creek Big Hole is the most picture-perfect swimming spot in the entire MacDonell Ranges. Many millennia of massive floods have carved out the spellbinding geological site, which remains an important meeting place for the Aranda people. Don’t want to leave? Camping is available on-site.
Also known as the Olgas, some travellers find these dramatic dome-shaped formations more impressive than Uluru. The biblical Valley of the Winds trail snakes through the 36 ochre-hued rocks, passing vibrant fields of wildflowers and narrow canyons en route.
This cragged, deep red canyon has spectacular scenery fit for a king. As one of the Red Centre’s most remarkable sites, the spellbinding detour is well worth the drive. Tackle the Rim Walk to admire its lush sheltered gardens and course, wind-eroded domes on an otherworldly 6km hike.
The challenging yet rewarding ascent up Mount Sonder is a must for any keen bushwalker. From the Redbank Gorge Day Use Area, a 16km return trail winds up the Northern Territory’s fourth highest mountain, from where sweeping West MacDonnell landscapes await. Trudge up before sunrise for the best views.
The most gorgeous gorge of the West McDonnell Ranges wows visitors with its rugged outback scenes. The moderately strenuous 8.5km Ormiston Pound loop soaks up the staggering terrain. You can also enjoy a taster on the more accessible Ghost Gum route or the wheelchair-friendly Waterhole Walk. Sweaty? Cool off with an ice-cold dip.
A rocky 1.5-hour return walk leads to this deep red stunner by the base of Mount Sonder in the West MacDonnell Ranges. Treat yourself to a refreshing swim in the near-permanent waterhole as a reward for your legwork. Low-cost accommodation comes courtesy of the Woodland Campground.
Another West Macs classic, Serpentine is a spindly, snake-like gorge where red gums shade a semi-permanent swimming hole. A moderate yet rocky 3km return walk is all it takes to reach its famous narrow gap.
There’s no swimming hole at the privately-owned Standley Chasm, but this spectacular spot is well worth a look. A well-maintained 30-minute return trail leads to a dramatic 80-metre chasm carved out of rock. Go it alone or immerse yourself in indigenous culture during an aboriginal-led walking or bushtucker tour.
As the highlight of the East MacDonnell Ranges, Trephina Gorge enchants visitors with its refreshing waterholes and scenic canyon hikes. 4WD explorers should take a side trip to John Hayes Rock Hole—or get there via the adventurous Trephina Ridgetop Walk.
Even the most jaded traveller will feel enchanted by the magic of Uluru. So much more than “just a big rock,” this iconic monolith exudes an indescribable spiritual presence. Wander around the Base Walk to admire Uluru from multiple angles, then head towards the Sunset Lookout for an unforgettable photo op.
Alice Springs—the heart of Australia’s Red Centre. Over the next seven days, we'll take you on a journey through this beautiful region, showcasing some of the best experiences and activities available in this vibrant desert town.MORE: 7-Day Alice Springs Itinerary
To get the most out of your trip across the country, we’ve put together a 9-day itinerary that absorbs a mix of world-famous landmarks and secret hidden gems. This campervan journey from the Northern Territory to South Australia is a must for any wannabe explorer.MORE: Alice Springs to Adelaide Itinerary
Snake along the Stuart Highway as you traverse between the NT’s two main towns. See Katherine, Kings Canyon and even Uluru before reaching the quirky town of Alice Springs in the heart of Australia’s Red Centre.MORE: Alice Springs to Darwin Itinerary
Aussie travellers need a valid, full Class C (car) license to rent a camper in Alice Springs—no Ls, Ps, or probationary licenses allowed. Foreigners will need an International Drivers Permit (IDP) or an English translation of a comparable license. You’ll need to be 21 or older, regardless of nationality, to rent a camper in Alice Springs. Drivers under 25 must pay a young driver surcharge. Most rental companies don’t want you taking their vehicles on rugged, unsealed roads. Always confirm the policy before venturing off the tarmac.
Yes, it’s standard for most RV rental companies to allow an additional driver. This driver and any others must be named on the rental agreement and there may be a nominal fee.
Additional drivers must also hold an appropriate driver’s license and must meet driver age requirements.
Yes, many options are available. Some popular choices include Ayers Rock Campground (close to Uluru), Alice Springs Tourist Park, and the BIG4 MacDonnell Range.
Most campervan rental companies in Australia require the driver to be 21 years of age or older to rent from their full range of vehicles.
Some companies will rent to drivers between 18-21, but only certain models may be available. A couple of companies have higher age requirements - 23 (Leisure Rent) and 24 (Captain Billy’s). Enter the driver’s age into our search tool and we will filter available vehicles to match.
For young drivers, additional insurance may be required and special conditions may apply.
When renting a vehicle, it is standard to be charged a bond (security deposit), also known as ‘excess’, which is the amount the renter is liable to cover in the event of an accident or damage to the vehicle. The bond amount fluctuates based on the insurance package selected at the time of rental and is charged and debited on the renters’ credit or debit card.
Terms and conditions vary by rental company, however, most companies do not charge a fee if the cancellation is made 3 months prior to pick up (including Maui, Britz, Apollo, Cheapa Campa, Star RV, Hippie, & Mighty). The closer the date to picking up the vehicle, the higher the cancellation fee will generally be.
Deposit amounts may not be refundable.
With the COVID-19 outbreak affecting many travelers plans in 2020, many suppliers have updated their cancellation policies.
To cancel a booking contact our friendly support team via the Support Page.