Visiting Karijini National Park was one of my favorite adventures in Australia. The national park is one of my favorite places on earth and absolutely magical. The landscape with its picturesque gorges, natural swimming holes, and red rocks is amazing.
As a matter of fact, it is my favorite place in Australia followed by the cliffs of Sydney and Rottnest Island. Therefore I can only encourage you to add it to your Western Australia road trip itinerary. You won’t regret it! Karijini is a piece of heaven and a real hidden gem that many have never heard of.
Back in 2018, I spend three days in Karijini National Park, and I would have loved to stay longer. While there, I did most of class 4 and 5 gorge hikes and they were some of the greatest hikes I did in my life. The length of the individual hikes might be short, but the things you will see will take your breath away.
I really hope that you will love Karijini National Park as much as I do if you decide to visit it. And do not forget to bring swimwear and a towel. Swimming in the crystal clear rock pools after a hike is incredible.
How long to spend in Karijini National Park
It is best to spend at least 3 days in Karijini National Park if you want to do most of what the national park has to offer.
If you want to visit the national park after reading this Karijini Guide, you can find 3 days in Karijini itinerary at the bottom of this post.
If you are not sure how long to spend in Karijini National Park and might be interested in venturing even further of the beaten track, you should add at least another day to your itinerary. Doing so allows you to explore the more remote gorges or to simply relax at the beautiful campsites.
Karijini National Park Facts
Karijini National Park is set in the Hamersley Range in the Pilbara region. It is 75km E from Tom Price, about 4 hours from Port Hedland (325km), and 9 hours from Exmouth. With a size of 6.274 km², it is Western Australia’s second-largest national park.
You can find a map of Karijini here.
Karijini National Park Entrance Fee
The entrance fee for Karijini National Park is 12 AUD per day per car, so visiting Karijini National Park is rather affordable. If you plan to spend more than 4 days in Karijini or plan to explore other national parks in Western Australia, it is best to buy the Holiday Pass.
National Park Pass: 12 AUD per day per car (max. 12 people)
Holiday Pass: 60 AUD (valid for 4 weeks and all national parks in Western Australia)
Things to do before you explore Karijini
Plan out your trip there in advance and check if your vehicle can drive on all the roads as some of them are unsealed. Therefore, it might be better to exit the park and reenter it at a different location. So take the driving time into account. You do not want to miss out on things just because you run out of time.
There are no real shops within the park, so you should buy food and drinks before you head there. Hereby, it is best to do so in Tom Price or Port Hedland as these cities have the best prices for groceries. The fuel station east of Karijini has a small selection of groceries as does the Karijini Eco Retreat, but the prices there are steep.
Be sure to stop at the Karijini Visitor center when you enter the eastern side of the park. The staff there will be able to give you useful information and you can learn more about the history of this wonderful national park in Western Australia.
Karijini National Park Tours
If you do not feel like venturing into the gorges of Karijini on your own, you should reconsider joining a tour. These days, the only available Karijini National Park tours are organized by Lestok Tours.
Sadly West Oz Active Adventure Tours went out of business in January 2021. Aside from simple gorge tours, they used to offer tours to level 6 areas that are not accessible to the general public, photography tours, and a Weano Descent.
My road trip crew and I actually met one of the West Oz Active guides at the very start of our trip in Broome, so we got a free gorge tour when he and a friend had a day off. They accompanied us in the first gorge and told us what to look out for. It really boosted my confidence and helped me feel safe when we started exploring the other gorges without a guide.
Therefore, I can recommend joining one of their gorge tours if you have no prior experience or just want to brush up on your skills. Australian gorges do not have the safety features you will find in other countries, so exploring them on your own can be daunting.
I love canyoning and dream of doing the Weano Descent and a level 6 tour during my next visit to Karijini. However, I wouldn’t have enjoyed my time in the gorges if it had not been for that first guided gorge exploration.
The Best Time to visit Karijini National Park
The best time to visit Karijini National Park is between April and October. The temperatures are lower and there is less rain. The days are warm, but the nights can get very cold due to the high location of the camping grounds. During the summer months, the temperatures often exceed 40 degrees celsius and it rains a lot. Therefore, it is best to avoid these months.
If you want to experience the wildflower season, the best time to visit Karijini is from June to September. After all, these months are the wildflower season of the Pilbara region, and the national park usually has some of the most beautiful flower fields full of purple mulla mullas and Karijini wattle.
Karijini National Park Accommodation
By now, there are three campsites within Karijini National Park. Additionally, there are several free ones nearby, which you can easily find with the Wiki Camps Australia app. Due to the stunning scenery, the national park has some of the best camping in Western Australia. This might just be my opinion, but I loved seeing the wildflowers and how close the camping spots are to the gorges. Therefore, I can only recommend camping within the national park and only opting for free camping the nights before you hike Mount Bruce (Punurrunha).
The booking process for the two parks and wildlife campgrounds was altered in 2019. Therefore it is necessary to book your stay in advance. You can do so up to 180 days in advance. The national park might be a hidden gem, but it is still popular amongst locals, so it is best to plan ahead.
Karijini National Park Camping
Dales Gorge Campground
If you do want to shower, you have to drive to the Visitors Center and use their showers for a small fee (4 AUD). Just check the opening times before you drive there, so you do not stand in front of closed doors.
Arrive early if you want to explore Karijini National Park during the school holidays. Otherwise, you might have to wait a bit until you can drive to your pre-booked camping spot at Dales Gorge Campground.
The campsites here have different sizes, so be sure to book one that suits your preference. Generators are only permitted at two of the six loops, so be sure to book a spot on the Bungarra and Cockatoo loop if you need one. The official map of the campground should help you select a site.
Dales Gorge Campground Map
Karijini Overflow Camping
The Karijini Overflow Campground is the newest campsite and located around 10 km away from Dales Campground. It is close to the visitors center and you can use the showers there for a small fee. This campsite is only open during the peak periods.
Cost: 11 AUD p.p./night
You can book a camping spot at Karijini Overflow Camping on the Park Stay WA website. Keep in mind, that you can only park one vehicle per booking, so be sure to book your stay accordingly if you are traveling with a bigger group.
I have not been to this campsite as it was established after my Western Australia road trip. However, the reviews of this campground are great, so you should opt for this one if you do not mind the short drive to Dales Gorge.
Keep in mind that is not possible to stay at the Karijini Overflow Camping campsite for more than two days. If you wish to spend more time in Karijini, you can easily book further nights at the other two campgrounds.
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Karijini Eco Retreat
Karijini Eco Retreat is a retreat that promotes sustainable tourism. It has a restaurant in the main building and a small shop where you can buy food.
You can camp there for $20 per person or stay in a deluxe tent, whereby prices vary between $189 and $349, so check the current price online before you arrive. All camping plots have access to hot showers that use rainwater.
Be mindful of the sleeping times as the management does not take kindly to groups it considers to be loud after hours. Do yourself a favor and do not play music even if the volume is turned down.
We experienced a bit of a situation at this retreat that involved a noise complaint, and to this day I am not entirely sure how to explain the situation.
There are hikes of varying levels in Karijini National Park and the ratings follow the Australian standard. Class 2 hikes are walks on hardened surfaces and possibly a small amount of steps. Meanwhile class 3 might have some unstable surfaces and conditions depend on the weather. Both of these levels are rather easy one require little to no physical effort aside from walking.
Karijini National Park Gorges and Things to Do
Please be careful while exploring the Karijini National Park gorges. While I was there with a group of amazing women, a tour guide told us how hard it is to rescue someone that injures themselves in the gorges. And I honestly do not want to be responsible for adding to their workload because someone that read this guide injured themselves. Please heed the warning signs.
I want to give you an overview of everything one can do at my favorite place in Australia, so this guide includes some things that I have yet to do. I will tackle them once I finally get the chance to return to Western Australia.
Mount Bruce (Punurrunha)
With a height of 1235 meters, Mount Bruce is the second-highest mountain in Western Australia. There are various hikes on Mount Bruce and I recommend starting all of them just after sunrise as it gets too hot during the day. All three Mount Bruce hikes start at the car park and both the Honey Hakea Track and Summit Hike pass Marandoo View.
Marandoo View: 500m, 30 minutes (Class 3)
Honey Hakea Track: 4.6 km, 3 hours return (Class 3)
Summit Hike: 9 km, 6h return (Class 4) – amazing view over mountain range
Hamersley Gorge is located in the Northwest of the national park. It is the most remote gorge and quite far away from the other gorges of Karijini National Park. It is a 400 meters long trail that takes around 1 hour. It ends at the picturesque Hamersley Waterfall at the Spa Pool and is likely the most popular photo motive of the national park.
A 4WD is recommended for the drive to the car park, but if you drive slowly, a 2WD is sufficient.
Handrail Pool: 1 km, 1.5 h
If you swim through the pool, you can continue the hike to its nearby ending point. Be aware of the fact that the water here is colder than in the other natural pools of Karijini National Park. So please do not just jump in. Allow your body to get used to the water temperature – especially if the air temperature reaches 40 degrees celsius.
Swimming in this natural pool in Weano Gorge was one of my favorite moments in Karijini. I can only recommend floating in the water and looking up towards the towering red walls of the gorge that seem to frame the sky.
The Hancock Gorge hike also starts at Weano car park. It is divided into two parts. The first part is class 3, while the rest of the gorge hike is class 5. You will have no choice but to walk through water, so only bring gear that you don’t mind getting wet or a waterproof bag.
Hancock Gorge – Part 1: 135 meters, 10 minutes return
The easy part of the hike ends at a ladder. If you climb down, you will proceed to part 2.
Hancock Gorge – Part 2: 200 meters, 45 minutes return
Karijini National Park Gorges Class 6 Connection
The area beyond Kermit’s Pool has a class 6 rating. Those that want to enter it have to obtain permission from the rangers of Karijini National Park.
Several years ago, the area used to be accessible and it was possible to do a loop through Hancock Gorge and Weano Gorge via the Junction Pool. However, this part of the gorge is way too dangerous for normal hikers and many injuries have occurred in this passage.
It might seem tempting to attempt it anyway, but I under no circumstances recommend it. Please think of those that have to rescue you if you injure yourself and do not do it.
You can reach Joffre Gorge via a path from Karijini Eco Retreat or by walking there from the day parking lot of the gorge. The two paths approach Joffre gorge from different sides, so the length of the hikes can vary.
The first part of the track towards Joffre Falls is rather easy even if it is class 4. At least, if you do not mind climbing down some bigger boulders that form a path into the gorge.
Climbing down the cliff is worth the amazing view that awaits you, but only do it if you are wearing sturdy shoes and are confident that you will be able to do it. I personally would rank the short climb the hardest thing I did in Karijini National Park. I loved it, but it was hard to make myself do it as the exact path is not obvious before you actually climb down the individual passages.
If you do not feel like climbing down, you can just walk to the lookout to see the falls and the amphitheater from above. Do not force yourself to do it if you are not confident enough in your skills. Only four out of the ten of us did the final descent to the pool downstream of Joffre waterfall.
Knox Lookout: 300 meters, 15 minutes return
Gorge Hike: 2 km, 3 h return trail (class 4)
Gorge Rim Hike: 2 km, 1.5 h
Dales Gorge: 2 km, 3 h return
Circular Pool: 800 meters, 2 hours return (class 4)
Circular Pool is the natural pool in Dales Gorge that is visited by the largest amount of people. But if you go there in the hour before sunset, you might be lucky enough to be the only one there.
Fern Pool (Jubura)
Fern Pool is only a 300m walk away from Fortescue Falls. And while this section of Dales Gorge is rated as class 4, it is fairly easy and absolutely worth it. Especially as Jubura is the only permanent waterfall in the park.
Once there, you can enter the water using a ladder and swim to the waterfall. It is a very serene location and sitting in the little cave under the waterfall is incredibly peaceful. The pool is very important to the local Indigenous people, so please be quiet and respectful while swimming there.
I can only encourage you to visit Fern Pool as the sun is setting. The fading sunlight alters the colors of the area and it only makes this area of Karijini National Park more special.
Kalamina Gorge is the shallowest gorge of Karijini. It is a class 4 hike but considered to be a perfect introduction hike. As you venture through the gorge you walk along a stream and ponds. The trail ends at Rock Arch Pool, is 3 km long, and takes 3 h. However, you will need a 4WD to access this gorge.
Oxer Lookout & Junction Pool Lookout
These two lookouts are located close to each other and there is a narrow trail connecting these two. They are close to the Weano Recreational Area and getting there is an 800 meters long return walk that takes 30 minutes.
I personally did not visit Wittenoom as our car could not handle the road there, but it was recommended to us by locals. Wittenoom, close to Karijini National Park, is an abandoned town with only two remaining citizens. However, visiting this place is not without danger.
It is up to you if you want to visit it, but be aware of the possible health hazard due to asbestos mining between 1937 and 1966. There are many warning signs that advise you not to do it, but it is possible.
In its natural state, the blue asbestos is harmless and only its dust is lethal. Therefore some say that going there is fine as long as you are not planning on throwing dirt in the air or eating something that has fallen to the ground. However, inhaling a single asbestos fiber can be deadly.
In the end, I cannot tell you what you should do. Please do your own research before you decide to visit Wittenoom. If you decide to go, do not camp there and leave the area once you have explored the ghost town. Furthermore, it might be a good idea to wear a mask while exploring the town.
The condition of the road there varies. So if you decide to go to Wittenoom, I recommend inquiring about its condition at the fuel station close to the national park. In general, it is best not to drive there with a normal rental. A 4WD will easily handle the road there.
I admittedly was not sure if I should include Wittenoom in this Karijini National Park guide. But in the end, I figured that locals might recommend it to you too. Therefore, I prefer it if you have some general knowledge of the danger. Do your research and make an informed decision.
Yampire Gorge (closed)
If you own an old travel guide, it might still list Yampire Gorge and its’ trails. Please be aware that this gorge is closed to the public due to the high amount of asbestos. Do not try to enter this area. It is even more dangerous than exploring Wittenoom.
What to Bring to Karijini National Park
Phone Reception in Karijini National Park
3 Days in Karijini National Park Itinerary
Day 1: Dales Gorge Area
Day 2 in Karijini National Park: Hancock Gorge, Weano Gorge, Joffrey Gorge, Knox Gorge, Kalamina Gorge
Start out your day with Hancock Gorge and Weano Gorge. They are both incredibly stunning and a must if you feel fit enough. I absolutely loved both of them.
Afterward, you should head towards Karijini Eco Retreat which is situated close to Joffrey Gorge and do one of the hikes there.
Accommodation: Karijini Eco Retreat
Day 3: Mount Bruce, Hamersley Gorge
Mount Bruce is located outside of the limits of the national park, so it is best to do it as you leave the national park. It is recommended to woke up early if you want to do the summit hike.
If you want to do more after the Mount Bruce hike, you can head to Hamersley Gorge which is approximately 57 km away.
Accommodation: Tom Price Tourist Park
Planning a trip soon? Check out these useful websites and resources that I use to plan my own adventures
Will you visit Karijini National Park?
While there are many incredible places in Australia, Karijini National Park is one of my top five recommendations for everyone that visits the country. It is such a unique place and if you love exploring gorges and natural pools you are bound to love it.
It is more than worth the detour to get there and should be a part of every Western Australia itinerary. After all, it is a real hidden gem of Australia and unparalleled in its natural beauty.
If you are making planning a Western Australia road trip, these Australia guides might also interest you:
See the Monkey Mia Dolphins
Exploring Western Australia Through Photos
Lancelin Sand Dunes – Sandboarding Adventures
Kalbarri National Park
Perth to Broome Road Trip
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