Kings Canyon to Alice via Mereenie Loop

by Neil

Hello, just thought I'd share our trip report on the Mereenie Loop Road from Kings Canyon to Alice Springs for other travellers.

Firstly there are conflicting reports on whether you need a permit or not... We opted to buy a permit ($5.50) from Kings Canyon Resort Caltex Station.

The road itself, don't be fooled. It is harsh, very rough and corrugated. A reasonable level of driver skill is required. 4x4 experience would be very helpful. The road surface shifts from hard rocky surface to smooth sand, then corrugated sand or rocks. Some areas of bulldust.

My advise, keep a reasonable speed, not too slow, not too fast. Tyre pressure down to 26-28 psi (very important to avoid punctures) as it assists traction and makes the ride a little better. For all of you that attempt it in a hire vehicle. Check the spare tyre is ok. Otherwise, enjoy the spectacular scenery. It is some of the most diverse in the world.

My tip... don't stay at the Glen Helen resort... far from a resort. The toilets were dirty, no paper, staff not so friendly. Drive a few more km's down the road and stay at Ormiston Gorge or even better Ellery Creek Big Hole camp grounds. Much cheaper (natioanl park fees) and a better natural view with basic but adequate facilities.

Enjoy the NT!!

Comments for Kings Canyon to Alice via Mereenie Loop

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Kings Canyon, Alice and Mereenie Loop
by: Birgit

Ditto on Ormiston Gorge or Ellery Creek Big Hole being preferable :-).

Thanks a lot for sharing your trip report with my readers, Neil!

merrenie loop road
by: Anonymous

How much takes you to travel from Alice Springs to Kings Canyon? Is it more than 6 hours?

Thanks on advance and thank you to share all that information.

Alice Springs - Kings Canyon
by: Birgit

Depends on the route, the car, and the driver :-).
Please see the Kings Canyon page.

I quote:
The distance is 474 km along the Stuart Highway, Lasseter Highway and Luritja Road, all fully sealed.

If you have a 4WD you can access Watarrka National Park via the Mereenie Loop Road. (...) The distance from Kings Canyon to Alice Springs going that way is 357 km.

Six hours should do it.

Many Thanks!
by: Anonymous

The driver is a standard 4wd driver one ;-).

Thanks a lot indeed, your comment was so useful.

I'll write in here my experience once I finished it. Thanks again, we will try to do the Mereenie Loop Road from Alice to King's Canyon in six hours in our 4wd. We have like eight hours to get to King's Canyon but we would like to stop a little in some places.

Thanks mate!

Glen Helen
by: Anonymous

Would have to agree with you about Glen Helen resort. We camped and the showers/toilets were extremely unclean. Unfortunately Omiston Gorge was packed by 4pm so you have to get there reasonably early to get a site.

Speaking to the owner of the Kings Cannon resort at a recent Camping/caravan show in SA advised that the place has changed ownership and the facilities are in much better condition now.

Give it a go in the dry.
by: Rob Broadley

We too travelled from Kings Canyon to the West MacDonelle Ranges via the Mereenie Loop in mid July 2011 in a Toyota Kluger All Wheel Drive (no trailer or caravan). There had been rain a few days earlier but for us all of the track was dry.

A Kings Canyon Service Station employee told us it had been graded in the last couple of months and he had heard travellers saying it was pretty good.

The first 40km were probably the worst for corrugations. There was thick fine sand (bull dust) if you ventured off the corrugated hard based tracks.

For the most part, we managed at least 80km/h. In some long, straight, well graded sections we confortably acheived 110km/h.

The greatest hazard we experienced was last of visibility due to dust from other vehicles while overtaking (even with the wind blowing across the track). Please, if you're towing, do other drivers a courtesy and pull over occasionally and let other vehicles pass safely. This is a much preferred option than forcing them to pass you at speed and flicking up a stone into your windshield, or radiator. We followed four vans for 50km doing less than 80km/h when we could have been doing over 100km/h.

In the dry, and with the road having been 'recently' graded, we found the road much more passable than what others had led us to beleive. Certainly, in the dry, any soft roader could handle the road. There was only one 2km section where I considered that I might have needed to lower the tyre pressure to cope with sand that had blown back across the track.

It was obvious from the trye tracks that otehrsw had tried to avoid the corrugations by driving on the soft sand on the outer edge of the road. In my opinion, this is extremely dangerous - stay on the well worn and corrugated track and maintain control of your vehicle. There were certainly a number of wrecks rusting on the side of the road.

We were very glad we took the Mereenie Loop and saw the West Macdonnel Ranges on our way from Kings Canyon to Alice Springs. I can't comment, however, on what the road would be like in the wet.

Glen Helen via Mereenie loop road
by: Anonymous

What’s in a name? We at Glen Helen Resort have just recently re-registered the business name Glen Helen Homestead Lodge, to more accurately reflect the level of service and amenity that we are able to provide. The name Resort, unfortunately conjures up ( unrealistic) images for some people. Our business prides itself in friendly service and in providing the very best facilities that we are able to in a leasehold business. Our staff are predominantly overseas backpackers who live and work with us for 1-6 months generally. Most of them love the ambience of the place, the family atmosphere and the opportunity for local adventures. We, and they are usually very sad to say goodbye.
On the subject of reviews, we get good ones and bad ones. Unfortunately the bad ones are generally from people who don’t take the time or the trouble to talk to us about any part of their experience that they were not happy with.
The great majority of our guests have a wonderful time in the West MacDonnell Ranges, enjoy the laid back atmosphere and charm of an old homestead, accept that it is difficult to operate even a 3 star resort in outback conditions and most of all they appreciate the efforts that our staff make to ensure that they are comfortable and happy when they visit. Not everyone will be blown away by the experience, but the people who do take the time to talk to us are generally very appreciative of the efforts of our staff, especially our backpackers.
Last night we held a very successful and happy, New Years celebration, with quality live music, BBQ dinner and fireworks. All indications are that all enjoyed the safe, relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
I encourage all readers to judge a property on its merits. By all means beware of any property that consistently fails to perform, but beware of those reviews that seem hell bent on pulling down any business that may not have quite met their expectations.
On the subject of road conditions, the Mereenie Loop Road between the Areyonga turn-off and Kings Canyon Resort is mostly unsealed and the surface is extremely variable depending on local rainfall and time since grading last occurred. Four wheel drive vehicles are recommended due to the severity of the conditions, and speed (60-100 km/hr) and tyre pressures are both important factors. Allow 3-4 hrs between Kings Canyon and Glen Helen. Larapinta Drive is unsealed from the Areyonga turnoff to Hermannsburg and Namatjira Drive is now fully sealed all the way from its Western intersection with Larapinta Drive and Alice Springs. Namatjira Drive provides access to some of the most scenic areas in the whole of Central Australia.
Drive safe and enjoy.
Colin O’Brien
Manager, Glen Helen Homestead Lodge (Resort) 1 January 2014

How about by bike?
by: Max

Hi ... am thinking about the Kings Canyon - Alice along the Larapinta road ... by bicycle. With trailer. Can carry 25-30 litres of water.
But ... it's a hard slog pushing a fully loaded bike for any distance, let along 10s or even more kms of sandy road.
Does anyone know if anyone has successfully done this?
Am expecting to be in the area around late Aug, early Sep 2015.
Cheers ... M

Glen Helen
by: Burcu

Just 3 days ago (5 Nov 2015) stayed at Glen Helen with a hired campervan. Toilets and showers very clean, and the staff were very friendly. Also getting up in the morning just near the gorge view was really breathtaking.

Suitable for a camper trailer?
by: Luca

Hi there,
I'm planning to take the kids and wife for a trip in April and I was wondering if the Merenie Rd. is suitable for a camper trailer.
I will drive a 2010 Patrol + a semi off road camper trailer.
Advices plese?

Meerenie Loop quality
by: Max

Hi Luca,
I was last on the Meerenie in December, on a bicycle and currently work at Glen Helen Homestead Lodge.
If your camper-trailer is designed and capable of driving on gravel roads the Meerenie won't be a problem.
There are long stretches of corrugations and short soft sections. Otherwise it's a good gravel road.
Hope that helps.


by: Steve

My wife and me will drive in August 2016 from Kings Canyon to Alice Springs trough Mereenie Loop Road.
We'll drive a Toyota Land Cruiser 4x4.
We are Italians and we use our SUV just in the Alps, we don't have experience on sand road.
Do you think that could be risky follow MLR in August 2016.
Which are the road condition till now?

Alice to Kings Creek Station via Mereenie Loop
by: S

We are two cars, Toyota Kluger AWD towing 2WD camper trailer and a Holden Captiva AWD not towing. We are planning on heading along the Mereenie Loop Sept/Oct 2016. Of course we will check beforehand but can anyone tell me how long from Alice to Kings Creek Station? And also can we do most (if not all) of the stops along the Larapinta Drive (West McDonnell Ranges? We are definitely stopping at the Standley Chasm and also Ormiston Gorge, but if time permits before stopping at KCS for the night we will stop at all. Any advice would be appreciated.

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