Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve
97 kilometres south of Alice Springs via Stuart Highway Alice Springs Australia
Marvel at the ancient landscape of the aptly named Rainbow Valley - sandstone bluffs and cliffs with exposed bands of coloured rock. These free standing cliffs form part of the James Range, and are a favourite subject of photographers who capture their varied shapes and colours at dawn or dusk when the rainbow-like rock bands are highlighted. There are unmarked trails for bushwalking around the bluff area and to other locations along the range The reserve is also rich in evidence of Aboriginal occupation with rock engravings or petroglyphs and paintings as well as grinding stones and stone tool chips, especially around the hills and ridges. The coloured rock bands in the sandstone cliffs were caused by water. The red iron of sandstone dissolved and was drawn to the surface during the dry season. This dark red capping is hard and weathers slowly, whereas the softer white sandstone below erodes quickly into loose sand. Weathering and erosion are also responsible for the valley shape, where sandstone blocks have been eroded into rock faces and squared towers.