Welcome to Uluru
Smack in the middle of the Australian Outback is a truly massive hunk of rock—and one of the country’s most iconic landmarks: Uluru. Also known by its Western name, Ayers Rock, the sandstone monolith is the top draw of UNESCO World Heritage–listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, in the vast, desert expanse of the Red Centre. A 4-hour drive from the nearest Outback town, Alice Springs, Ulurs magnetizes travelers eager to see the ancient edifice (it’s thought to have started forming 550 million years ago) and its daily light shows: The rock appears to change color—from charcoal to purple to crimson to ochre—with every sunrise and sunset. Uluru tours enable you to experience the natural phenomenon on foot, camel back, helicopter, or scenic plane flight; or stick around after dark for an evening barbeque under the starry Outback sky. While visitors are asked not to climb “the Rock,” which is sacred to the local Anangu people, you can walk its base with an indigenous guide to get the inside scoop on its cave paintings, watering holes, wildlife, and Aboriginal folklore—or head out into the desert plains for more Aussie adventure. Multiday camping trips are great for desert enthusiasts looking to swim, hike, and cruise the Outback landscape via 4WD. Plus, you get to avoid Uluru's limited accommodation options and explore nearby attractions, such as Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and Kings Canyon, with ease.