Authored by Brittney Disov
Only a short one hour drive from the strip of Las Vegas is a geological wonderland, the Valley of Fire State Park. The beauty of this park captivated my heart with it’s bright red Aztec sandstone formations, and beautiful limestone rock faces.
Covering some 40,000 acres, sandstone outcrops are the main attraction here, along with ancient petrified trees, and petroglyphs which date back 2,500 years. There is something very special about this place that evokes a sense of grounding and peacefulness; this is nature at it’s greatest.
The Valley of Fire is a traveler’s paradise that can accommodate campers, hikers, and drivers, and you’re more than welcome to bring your pup! There are 14 points of interest in the park, however the following were my highlights if you’re wondering where to start.
Nature Lovers Should Take This Day Trip From Las Vegas
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Valley of Fire State Park History
The red sandstone for which the park is known dates back to the Jurassic period. The outcrops are the remains from evolution as the sea descended and the land rose.
The name ‘Valley of Fire’ was dubbed by a traveler in the 1920’s who drove through the park during sunset and claimed the valley appeared to be “on fire”. The rest is history!
Photo credit: C Jarvis
Best Time to Visit Valley of Fire
Peak seasons for visiting Valley of Fire State Park are fall and spring. Winter is the quietest time to visit, and summer can be unbearable with the desert heat.
We totally lucked out with the weather, a sunny 70 degree day in mid January, I’ll take it! The next day temps dropped down to the 50’s. BUR!
While winter brings cooler temps, the other big perk of visiting at this time of year is not encountering many people. Very rarely did we run into other visitors, it felt like we had the entire park to ourselves!
Favorite Points of Interest
Arch Rock has been formed by rain and strong winds slowly dissolving away the sand grain. The arch you see is a result of that erosion and sadly will collapse one day unable to support itself.
Be sure to check out Atlatl Rock where you can get up close to the 4,000 year old petroglyphs (rock carvings).
We’ll never know exactly what these symbols mean but I think it’s safe to say these representations are reflections of culture and life from some of our earliest civilizations.
At Rainbow Vista you will see an array of multi colored rock that stretches for miles. The lookout here is an amazing photo opportunity that shouldn’t be missed!
We couldn’t have timed our arrival better as the sun was casting that beautiful golden light down on the rock.
Fire Cave, sometimes referred to as Windstone Arch, is a cave in a mini wind tunnel formed out of Sandstone rock. The below photographs are Arch Rock, followed by Fire Cave.
Photo credit: Casey Jarvis
Valley of Fire Hiking
While the park offers quite a number of hiking trails, unfortunately we only had time for one since the sun was beginning to set. We settled on the trail of white domes.
We spent the hour weaving through the narrow canyon with each turn spotting something new and exciting. I’ve never seen so many amazing pastel colored rocks in my life!
Inquire at the Visitor Center for suggestions on day hikes of varying length and terrain. The Visitor Center also provides exhibits on the geology, ecology, prehistory and history of the park and the nearby region.
Photo CC John Fowler
If you have the time I recommend you spend at least 4-5 hours to explore. The last thing you want to do is rush through it. The park charges a day use entrance fee of $10.00 per vehicle, and if you decide you love it so much that you want to stay, camping is $20.00 per night + $10.00 for sites with utility hook ups.
It’s important to drive only on approved routes of travel and park only in designated places along the roadside shoulders. Motor vehicles are not allowed on trails.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset unless camping in campgrounds or a group camping area. After sunset, activity is limited to those areas. Inquire at the visitors center if you’re interested in rock climbing, as this is limited to specific areas in the park.
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