This Australian National Park Is The Perfect Destination For One Of A Kind Sunset Views

There is a stunning national park in central Australia that has one of the most incredible sunrise and sunset views in the world. It's been the home of the Anangu people for tens of thousands of years and has seen a major change in the recent past. That place is Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The name Uluru comes from the Pitjantjatjara language, and cannot be translated into English. You may have heard it called Ayers Rock before, which came from a Western explorer called William Gosse. He named it for the Chief Secretary of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers. However, in 1993, the name was changed back to the one it's held through the millennia.

This beautiful place is worth a trip, and there are plenty of things to do there — like walks, tours, educational programs, birdwatching, and rock art to check out (as well as watching the sunrise/sunset, of course). There are some things to keep in mind, however, even if you've visited before. Let's take a look at the park, its history, and what you need to know before you go. 

The history behind the beautiful place

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park comprises both the famous rock formation (Uluru) and the rock domes to the west, called Kata Tjuta. The formations began their creation around 500 million years ago, and about 300 million years ago, the water covering the area receded, with erosion leaving behind these rock structures. Uluru is made of arkose, while Kata Tjuta is created from a combination of granite and basalt boulders and pebbles, as well as mud and sand. Uluru stands 1141 feet above the ground, though it goes deep into the ground as well. It's 2.2 miles long, 1.2 miles wide, and 5.8 miles around. The closest major town is Alice Springs, which is over 200 miles away. 

The place is sacred to the Anangu people (comprising the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara peoples), who have lived there for thousands of years. The rock art in the area is viewable by tourists (on a free, guided tour). Though it's difficult to date, experts believe humans have lived there for about 30,000 years. 

You can no longer climb Uluru, as it is a protected spot. Tourists started climbing in the 1930s, but in 1985, the park was given back to the Anangu in a move called the Handback. In the 1990s, signs asking people not to climb were put up, and many listened. In 2017 the decision was made to close the climb, and on October 26, 2019, it shut for good. Don't do it. There are penalties — but respect for the local culture is even more important. 

What to do at Uluru

There is a lot to do in this park, with the sunrise and sunset lighting up the place in glorious colors. Five areas are set aside for official viewing and pictures. That said, you can find other areas, which is allowed. 

There are plenty of official walking paths that you can take in the area to give you stunning views of the park's plant life — though do keep in mind that you'll need a park pass for your trip out. There are also tour companies that will take you out on walks, with some even using Segways. Some of the tours involve bike rides, Maruku Arts dot painting lessons, nature tours, outings to show you the stars and constellations, and ranger-guided tours. Those will teach you about the history and geology of the park, as well as the culture that surrounds its history. 

There is a cultural center where you can find two Aboriginal-owned art galleries. It features the Tjukurpa Tunnel, which teaches about the local creation stories and music and lets you feel like you're traveling back through time. There is also a cafe that sells souvenirs. If you're a birder, this is a great place to check out brown and peregrine falcons, zebra finches, Australian kestrels, fairy martins, emus, crimson chats, Major Mitchell's cockatoos, rainbow bee-eaters, Australian ringneck parrots, and so many more. While visiting, pay attention to posted signs, as some areas of the rock are spiritually significant and cannot be touched.