We recommend a mix of guided tours and independent activities to make the most of your visit here. Boat cruises are the main organised activity, but canoeing and hiking are also possible.
The park has around 120km of marked walking tracks, ranging from 2km stretches to 66km multinight hikes. Overnight hikers must register at the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre. There's a $50 refundable deposit for any overnight walk and a camping fee of $3.30/1.65 per adult/child per night. The visitor centre also has maps and info on the full range of walks.
Nothing beats exploring the gorges in your own boat and lots of travellers canoe at least as far as the first or second gorge. Bear in mind the intensity of the sun and heat and the fact that you may have to carry your canoe over the rock bars and rapids that separate the gorges. Pick up the Canoeing Guide at the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre.
From April to November, Nitmiluk Tours hires out single/double canoes for a half-day ($81/139 plus $50 deposit, departing 8am and 12.30pm), including the use of a splash-proof drum for cameras and other gear (it's not fully waterproof), a map and a life jacket. The half-day hire only allows you to paddle up the first gorge; with the full day (single/double canoe $102.50/178) you can get up as far as the third gorge depending on your level of fitness − start early. You can also be a little more adventurous and take the canoes out overnight (single/double canoe $167/224) − there are camp sites at the fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth gorges. Bookings are essential as overnight permits, obtained from the Parks & Wildlife desk in the visitor centre, are limited, and there is a $60 deposit. Don't take this trip lightly. The canoe shed is at the boat jetty by the main car park, about 500m beyond the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre. Gecko Canoeing & Trekking specialises in multiday expeditions.
If you want to use your own canoe you need to pay a registration fee of $5.50 per person, plus a refundable $50 deposit.
An easy way to travel far into the gorges is on a cruise run by Nitmiluk Tours, leaving from the boat jetty. Bookings can be tight in the peak season on some cruises; make your reservation at least a day in advance. The two-hour, Two Gorge Cruise (adult/child $92/46) goes to the second gorge and visits a rock-art gallery (including an 800m walk), usually with time for a swim along the way. Departures are at 9am, 11am and 2pm from April to October, and at 9am and 2pm from November to March.
The four-hour Three Gorge Cruise (adult/child $134/67) does the same as the two-gorge cruise but continues on to the third gorge. This cruise leaves at 9am daily from April to September, with additional departures during peak periods.
There's also a more leisurely two-hour Dawn Cruise (adult/child $98/49), leaving at 7am May to October and including a breakfast snack, and a 3½-hour Sunset Dinner Cruise (adult/child $179/122.50), sailing at 4.30pm nightly from May to October, with a candlelit three-course dinner and champagne.
There's wheelchair access to the top of the first gorge only.
Nitmiluk Tours runs an excellent 2½-hour Ancient Garlarr One Gorge Safari (adult/child $150/120) to the first gorge with a team of Indigenous guides who will take you through a range of men's and women's traditional stories, as well as rock art, crafts and local plants, with time for a swim as well.