The Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve is a scenic natural reserve consisting of various formation of sandstones and rock in the Northern Territory of Australia, located 100 km South of Alice Springs. The reserve is a popular daytrip from Alice Springs.
Rainbow Valley consists of various multicolor reddish sandy cliffs and rock formations.
The only access is by road. 75 km South of Alice Springs, a turnoff East to a sandy 4WD track runs 22 km to the Reserve. The track is not recommended for conventionnal vehicles.
Just before dawn, the reflection of the sun on the cliffs makes for the perfect photograph. A large claypan waterhole just in front of the cliffs is sometimes filled with water after the rain, and if you combine the reflection of the sun and the reflection over the water, you get the perfect postcard.
You can walk your way around on a short trail beside the rock formation to a spot called Mushroom Rock. There are also Ranger talks in the winter (from May to October) on Fridays evening.
In addition there is a tour that runs from Alice Springs to Rainbow Valley where you meet and spead the day with a Traditional Owner of the area. This tour accesses the area behind the Rainbow Valley formation where you can see some fantastic petroglyphs and left overs from the days when the local indigenous people used the area as a living area.
You can camp for free in the reserve, but bring your own food, as there are no facilities.
The usual drill with desertic destinations in Australia, though this one is not too remote:
- Take some water, a lot of it. Take a hat, and put sunscreen.
- If you get stranded, stay close to the car (the destination is popular enough, chances are you will get help quickly).
The only way to get out is to drive back to the Stuart Highway from where you came. There are other tracks in the area, but they are all private.