Located in the spectacular West MacDonnell Range, Glen Helen Gorge is at the end of the sealed section of road known as Namatjira Drive, named after the famous Indigenous artist Albert Namatjira.
The gorge is some 500 million years ago, formed from quartzite, part of the ranges running roughly east-west for 644 km, that were formed when the Alice Springs Orogeny saw the folding and fracturing of the bed rock, raising it above sea level.
As this uplift was occurring, the mighty Finke River slowly eroded a path through the mountain range. To the local Aborigines, Glen Helen is known as Yapalpe and the Finke River is Larapinta (said to mean ‘serpent’). It was a favourite meeting place for the Indigenous people from the West and Central MacDonnell Ranges.
Glen Helen Gorge protects a significant waterhole of the region, and along the Finke River. It is home to native flora and waterbirds that are usually associated with coastal areas, and several species of native desert fish.
Glen Helen Gorge is a well enjoyed stop for those who have done the Larapinta Trail, a 223 km long distance bush walk that follows the backbone of the West MacDonnell Ranges, starting west of Alice Springs and encompassing many of the Western Macs featured attractions, all the way to Mount Sonder.
Glen Helen is the name given not only to the Gorge, and the 368 ha Nature Park, surrounding the Gorge, but also to the Glen Helen Resort and Homestead. Facilities here include motel style accommodation, powered sites or ‘rough it’ under the stars in well maintained campgrounds. It is a popular place to base yourself when visiting Ormiston Gorge, Mount Sonder, and Redbank Gorge.