The MacDonnell Ranges are among the longest of the parallel ridge systems that corrugate the Centre’s landscape. Their east–west axis, passing through Alice Springs, is broken by myriad gaps carved through the ranges during better-watered epochs. It is these striking ruptures, along with the grandeur and colours of the rugged landscape – particularly west of Alice Springs – that make a few days spent in the MacDonnells so worthwhile. The expansive West MacDonnells are best appreciated with at least one overnight stay at any of the campsites mentioned here, while the often-overlooked East MacDonnells are a better bet if your time is limited. Both can be visited as part of a tour or with your own vehicle – a 4WD is recommended to get the most out of a visit, as some of the best spots are along corrugated dirt tracks. Take heed of off-road driving advice.

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