Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park
Rebecca Chandler—Parks Australia

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Northern Territory, Australia

At the center of Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park is the physical and cultural heart of Australia, a red sandstone monolith called Uluru (or Ayers Rock, its colonial name) that towers over the outback’s desert plains. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and sacred to the aboriginal Anangu, who’ve inhabited the land for tens of thousands of years. Despite these protections, the 1,142-ft.-tall rock has been marred for decades by poles and cables that allow visitors to climb the site. That changes in October, when the government will officially close Uluru to climbing, ensuring the monument sustains no further human damage. —Hannah Lott-Schwartz

TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.