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Are the roads sealed/paved between Alice Springs, Kings Cyn?

Englewood, Ohio
Level Contributor
1,817 posts
80 reviews
39 helpful votes
Are the roads sealed/paved between Alice Springs, Kings Cyn?

I am interested in doing a self drive between Alice Springs to Kings Canyon, then on to Uluru, and back to Alice Springs. Are these good roads to travel on, are they sealed/paved?

I read on the Voyages website:

"Please note: the Mareenie Loop Road is an unsealed road for 197km of 337km, a 4WD is required. Alternatively travel via the Stuart Highway"

I tried finding this "Mareenie Loop Road," and have not yet located it. So I am wondering, I plan to rent a intermediate size car, no 4x4, can I get by with this rental. I don't need a 4x4 do I?

Can anyone help with driving information, road conditions, drive times, etc.? Any information is appreciated.

Thank you.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
9,398 posts
126 reviews
164 helpful votes
1. Re: Are the roads sealed/paved between Alice Springs, Kings Cyn?

It depends which route you go. The Mereenie Loop is as described. There is also a sealed route which is quicker. There's a few sights along the Mereenie Loop, and it is popular. Haven't gone that way myself though. There's others who have though. Bump.

Level Contributor
2,925 posts
167 reviews
187 helpful votes
2. Re: Are the roads sealed/paved between Alice Springs, Kings Cyn?

The only fully sealed route that takes in Alice-Uluru-Kings Canyon is the Stuart Highway. This means that you are going back the same way you came ie it's not a loop. So from Alice to Uluru via Stuart Highway is roughly 4-5 hours driving time + time for a stop. Uluru to KC another roughly 4 hours driving time, then return the way you came from Alice (4-5 hours). You will average 90-100 klms/hour.

The only way to avoid backtracking is to take the Mereenie Loop Road, which does require 4wd. It is not a difficult road by any means but, depending on when last graded, it can be very corrugated, making for a bone rattling ride in parts. It is a classic outback road - wide and made of very fine red dust. You do experience much more of a sense of the outback on the Mereenie road. Most of the Mereenie is sealed, but you are not allowed to take a rented conventional (ie non 4wd) car on it. The sealed road is quite busy and somehow some of the charm of the magnificent isolation is lost when you are surrounded with lots of people and cars. Such is the price of fame I guess!

If you hire a 4wd, you are driving a large, diesel Landcruiser or similar, which is not as comfortable to ride in or drive as a standard car on the bitumen but acceptable enough.There is nothing difficult about driving them, and in all likelihood, you would not even need to be engaging 4wd, so it's pretty straightforward. They are more expensive to hire, and if you do, hire a car fridge at the same time. You are then free to carry your gourmet goodies to out of the way picnic spots, without the hassle of ice and eskies etc.

What you will see on the sealed road is what the vast majority of travellers to the Centre see and is perfectly fine, although it is a bit of a pain backtracking to Alice (and there's not a lot to see between Alice and Uluru). The Mereenie route is worth doing if you want to be a (tiny) bit adventurous, and get away from the crowds.

On the way, on the Mereenie route, you could have a look at Hermannsburg or Glen Helen gorge. We stayed at Kings Creek Station, a cattle and camel property, and would thoroughly recommend it, esp. the evening 'show', which explains a bit about living/working in the outback and the history of the family and the area.

I'm sure you'll have a great time, whatever you decide.



Arlington, Virginia
Destination Expert
for Arlington, Washington DC
Level Contributor
20,337 posts
150 reviews
295 helpful votes
3. Re: Are the roads sealed/paved between Alice Springs, Kings Cyn?

We have done the drive from Uluru to Kings Canyon (overnight stay at the resort) and then Kings Canyon to Alice Springs. We drove on the paved road in a regular sedan. The road is good and you should have no problems, but it is a long drive.

My 2003 copy of Frommer's Australia has a good map showing the route and the distances--you might want to take a look at a more recent copy at your library or bookstore. It also has a description of how to drive this route on the sealed road which might be helpful: "The regular route (from Alice to King's Canyon) is the 480 km (349 mile) trip from Alice Springs south via the Stuart Highway, then west onto the Lasseter Highway, then north and west on the Luritja Road. All three roads are paved. From Kings Canyon to Uluru, take the Lurtija Road back to the Lasseter Highway for 168 km (104 miles) and then take the Lasseter Highway west for 125 km (78 miles)."

Of course, when you return to Alice Springs from Uluru, you can avoid the Luritja Road completely, making the trip a bit shorter.

I hope this info is helpful.

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Business Travel, New South Wales
Level Contributor
33,188 posts
2,568 reviews
34,413 helpful votes
4. Re: Are the roads sealed/paved between Alice Springs, Kings Cyn?

Mereenie route to me is the best route to take if you want to see a little more of the outback and some gorgeous scenery. It requires a 4WD.

For more details about this route click on the thread below which I wrote last month when having the pleasure exploring this awesome region.


5. Re: Are the roads sealed/paved between Alice Springs, Kings Cyn?

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