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2. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Rock Out in the Big Red

Iconic Ayers Rock glows Martian red and juts 1,142 feet above the plain. But its real majesty lies in its holiness to the Aboriginal people, who believe the sandstone monolith was formed by their ancestors and that its features tell their cosmology. The Aboriginal guides of Anangu Tours lead a sunrise pilgrimage to the Rock—or Uluru, as it’s known to the indigenous Anangu (from $80; ananguwaai.com.au). Ayers Rock Resort, 12 miles from Uluru, has the only accommodations in the area, ranging from grassy tent sites ($10) to suites at its high-end Sails in the Desert Hotel (from $150; ayersrockresort.com.au). Climbing Uluru isn’t illegal (and plenty of people do), but the Anangu don’t because of the rock’s spiritual significance—and request that visitors follow suit. Instead, you can let loose by hiking through 36 rounded sandstone formations nearby called Kata Tjuta. An early a.m. start on the 4.6-mile Valley of the Winds Trail puts you among the monoliths in time for sunrise scrambling.

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