Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve
To catch a sunset or sunrise at Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve is one of the great outback experiences – the coloured bands of sandstone in the free-standing cliffs radiate light that spills over the desert ﬂoor which, after rain, can be covered in wildﬂowers. Weathering and erosion have shaped the valley, and sandstone blocks have been sculpted into angular rock faces and squared towers. The coloured rock bands in the sandstone cliffs were created when the environment was wetter than today – iron was dissolved and drawn to the surface to form a dark surface layer, leaving leached white layers below.
The reserve is rich in Aboriginal culture, with ancient petroglyphs and rock art. Stone implements, and various artefacts dating back to the early pioneering days, are scattered about, particularly among the rocky ridges and rock shelters. Claypans around the cliffs often retain water after rain and these are great times to take photographs because of the vibrant reﬂections. There is a marked walking trail (4-km circuit) from the camping ground to Mushroom Rock.
Rainbow Valley is a very pleasant destination during the cooler months (April to September), with blue skies, brisk, clear nights and reasonable daytime temperatures. At other times of the year the claypans and entry road may be ﬂooded and temperatures soar. When walking, visitors should carry plenty of water and wear appropriate clothing and head gear. Generators are not allowed and visitors are advised to collect ﬁrewood before entering the reserve.
Camp only in designated area; basic facilities
Location and access
97 km south-west of Alice Springs via Stuart Hwy then unsealed road with sandy patches; 4WD recommended
- PWCNT Alice Springs (08) 8951 8250
- PWCNT Alice Springs Telegraph Station (08) 8952 1013
Alice Springs (08) 8952 5800
- Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve, Eco-friendly activity