Headlined by the Gordon River and the almost mythological Franklin River, this national park is as wild in nature as it is in name.
With its mountains, deep gorges and a blanket of cool-temperate rainforest, it forms part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. A single road – the Lyell Highway – cuts through the park, but a host of walking tracks head near and far to explore its remote and rugged terrain, much of it shaped by ancient glaciers.
Standing at the park’s heart is Frenchmans Cap, one of Tasmania’s most imposing mountains, with the Franklin River curling around its base. In the early 1980s this river was famously protected after a successful campaign to prevent the Gordon River from being dammed, and in turn flooding the Franklin.
As the park’s name suggests, the Franklin and Gordon rivers are the park’s lifeblood. Take a gentle cruise on the Gordon, or a wild rafting adventure along 100km of the Franklin.
The park encompasses a swathe of peaks, including the King William Range and, most notably, the commanding quartzite summit of Frenchmans Cap.
Franklin Nature Trail
This partly boardwalked trail (25min, 1km) departs from a picnic area on the Lyell Highway and provides the quickest and easiest look at the Franklin River.
These stunning fanned falls pour into rainforest at the end of a 700m boardwalk. Allow 20 minutes for the return walk. One of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks.
Discover the upstairs view of the park, including the Franklin River and Frenchmans Cap, on this trail (40min return, 2.2km). One of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks.
One of Tasmania’s most challenging hikes ends with a scramble onto the summit of this mighty mountain. Allow four to five days.
Cross the Gordon River and set out across buttongrass plains towards this gorgeous alpine lake tucked into the slopes of the remote Denison Range. Allow two to three days.
Cruise the Gordon River
Rainforest reflections are a highlight on boat trips along the Gordon River from Strahan. The cruises also venture to the narrow and fierce ocean entrance known to convicts as Hells Gates, and visit the notorious penal colony on Sarah Island.
Kayak the Gordon River
Take a seven-day guided paddle across Macquarie Harbour and into the still embrace of the Gordon River, with nights spent camping on its banks.
Raft the Franklin River
Saved from being dammed in the 1980s, this remote and remarkable river now offers one of the world’s great wilderness rafting expeditions. Trips run from seven to 11 days.
No Dams 4WD tour
Drive into history on a 4WD tour of sites connected to the Franklin River blockade of the early 1980s, which helped prevent the river from being dammed. The tour heads deep into the national park to reach Mount McCall, where the second of the dams was proposed to be built.
Need to know
There is accommodation near the park at Lake St Clair, Strathgordon, Maydena, Strahan and Queenstown.
Conditions can change fast in wilderness areas, so come prepared for all weather (check out What to Pack).
Registration and entry
Overnight walks to Frenchmans Cap and Lake Rhona require registration with the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. A parks pass is required for entry to Tasmania’s national parks.
Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park is a 2hr 30min drive (175km) north-west of Hobart, and a 2hr drive (165km) from Launceston.