Standley Chasm – A complete guide. Everything you need to know about visiting Standley Chasm in the West MacDonnell Ranges.
About Standley Chasm
Standley Chasm, a beautiful gorge traditionally known as Angkerle Atwatye, is one of Central Australia’s many natural beauties. Its name means “Gap of Water” and was once a tributary of the Finke River. The reserve holds significant cultural importance to the indigenous Western Arrernte people as it is sacred to women’s dreaming. Located in the West MacDonnell Ranges, Standley Chasm is 100% privately owned and operated by the local Arrernte community.
Location and getting there
Standley Chasm is located in the West MacDonnell National Park, off the Larapinta Drive around 50kms west of Alice Springs. Opening hours are between 8am-5pm, with gates to the reserve closing outside of these times. Last entrance to the chasm is at 4.30pm. You will need to join a tour or have your own vehicle to access Standley Chasm as there is no public transport.
Visiting the Chasm
The main attraction here is of course the chasm itself. Access to the gorge is via a very well maintained 1.2km path which starts at the kiosk. The walk is easy and also wheelchair accessible (grade 1 path), taking about 15mins each way. The path leads you through a stunning gully alongside a dry creek bed which is surrounded by native gumtrees.
The beauty here becomes more apparent as you near the gorge which stands 80m tall. At only 3m wide at its narrowest point, Standley Chasm is a truely impressive sight. The gorge glows a rich red hue when the sun is directly overhead at noon, making this is a great time for photographs. However, this is generally the busiest time of day to visit. Avoid the crowds by getting there as the gates opens at 8am, before the locals and day trippers arrive! We had the place to ourselves at this time in the morning.
There is a $12 entrance fee to visit Standley Chasm. Tickets are available at the kiosk and a code to unlock the turnstyle is printed on your ticket. You can also book tickets online.
Hikes and walks at Standley Chasm
Most people visit Standley Chasm on a day trip and only spend an hour or so there. But there’s some beautiful short hikes worth doing if you have a little extra time.
Short lookout hike
Just behind the kiosk, is a short steep path leading to a lookout with views over the ranges and campsite. The staff at the kiosk gave us directions to the trail head. This is actually the start/finish of section 4 of the Larapinta Trail depending on which way you’re hiking. After a short walk, we reached a sign pointing us to the lookout, detouring off the Larapinta Trail. The views were nice and we spent a little time up here before returning to the kiosk.
Longer lookout over Standley Chasm
After visiting the first lookout, we followed the path from the kiosk back down to the chasm. There’s a trailhead and sign for the Larapinta Trail (Section 3) on the left about 1km down the path. We took this steep, rocky trail for around half an hour before eventually reaching a peak. From the peak there were spectacular vistas over Standley Chasm in front of us and the West Macs behind us. We spent ages up there taking photos and soaking in the vistas. We were glad we wore our jackets and beanies as the the wind was relentless and despite the sun shining, it was pretty cold. You’ll need a reasonable level of fitness to make it up the steep rocky trail, along with a good supply of water and a pair of sturdy shoes!
From the peak, you could continue on Section 3 of the Larapinta Trail, before turning off it and looping back down through the chasm, or return the way you came. We were advised that it is now quite dangerous to try and descend into the chasm and not something that is recommended. As it was already noon, we returned the way we came and revisited the chasm. We got super lucky on our return as there were no other people around, allowing us to enjoy the beautiful colours of the chasm glow under the midday sun! In total, this hike took us about 2 hours, including lots of time at the peak for photos.
Camping & facilities at Standley Chasm
Standley Chasm’s well set up for day trippers, hikers and overnight travellers. There is a small grassy area near the ablution block where hikers and campers can pitch their tents. Reservations are’t required, however the area is small and popular with hikers on the Larapinta Trail. There is also a carpark and space for caravans and campervans.
Camping fees: $18.50 for a non powered site and $23.50 for a powered site. This also includes entrance to the chasm, which is valid for the duration of your stay.
- A cafe serving coffee, tea, breakfast and lunch between 8-4pm
- Small grassy camping area
- Powered campsites
- Clean toilets and 2 hot water showers
- Small camp kitchen with sink, kettle and fridge
- Washing machine
- Gift shop
- Phone and internet reception
**Alcohol‘s prohibited at Standley Chasm.
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