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Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

by | Destinations | 22 comments

Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada is my favourite State Park in the US. At this point I should admit that I have not visited every State Park in the US – there are over 10,000 of them! I reserve the right, therefore, to change my mind if ever I discover a State Park more spectacular than Valley of Fire.  However, I have explored a lot of state parks in the US and camped in many of them. There are some absolutely fabulous parks, but Valley of Fire is outstanding. The rocky landscape of terracota coloured Aztec sandstone alongside creamy coloured limestone makes for a breathtaking vista. I am amazed Valley of Fire has not been given the status of a National Park.

Hiking in Valley of Fire

Where is Valley of Fire State Park?

Valley of Fire is in Nevada. In fact, it is just a stone’s throw from Las Vegas. I have heard it referred to as “Las Vegas Fire Valley”! From the glitz of sin city it is less than an hour’s drive to one of nature’s most dazzling shows. Follow this link to a map showing the route.

Valley of Fire: Hiking

There is so much to see in the Valley of Fire and, of course, hiking takes the explorer into the heart of a landscape, a landscape which is both dramatic and beautiful. Trail maps are available from the Visitor Centre in the park and I have linked to the online version here. I have outlined here some of the best hikes in Valley of Fire:

The Fire Wave

This is top of my list of what to see in the Valley of Fire. The red and cream stripes and swirls of rock create the effect of a river of fire. It is spectacular! The hiking trail is fairly easy, about a mile and a half in length and well worth doing.

The Fire Wave in Valley of Fire

Fire Wave in Valley of Fire

In Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

The White Domes Loop

The White Domes Loop at the north end of the park is one of the best trails in Valley of Fire. This trail is perhaps a little more challenging than the Fire Wave trail in that it is quite a steep and rocky downhill at the start. The hike has lots of interest because of the variety of terrain: narrow slot canyons, a natural stone arch and lots of colourful rock formations. It is about one mile in length.

Hiking the White Domes Trail

Hiking Valley of Fire State Park

Mouse’s Tank

The hike to Mouse’s Tank, a natural water tank formed in the rock over thousands of years, is also a must. The rocks along the way form an intricate lattice work of nooks and crannies, with plenty of photo opps! At the end of the hike, it is a rocky clamber up to the tank. The whole hike is about 0.7 mile.

Hiking to Mouse's Tank in Valley of Fire

Peeking out of a hole on hike in Valley of Fire

Hiking in Valley of Fire

Rainbow Vista

Rainbow Vista is another very memorable hike in Valley of Fire. It is slightly more difficult underfoot than the Fire Wave, but the rock formations make this another stunning trail. This hike is about 1 mile in length.

Rainbow Vista trail in Valley of Fire

Sitting on rock on hike in Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire hike

Rainbow Vista hike in Valley of Fire

And whilst you are in Valley of Fire, don’t forget to look out for

Elephant Rock

This quirky rock formation is near the East Entrance to the park.

Elephant rock

 

 

The Petroglyphs

There are several sites with ancient petroglyphs in Valley of Fire, evidence of early human settlers in the area. The best places to see them are Atlatl Rock and Petroglyph Canyon.

Petroglyphs on rock

The Beehives

Strange rock formations which look, strangely enough, like giant beehives

 

Driving in Valley of Fire

It is perfectly possible to drive to the main landmarks and trails in Valley of Fire, even in an RV as we did on our last visit. Parking is relatively easy, depending when you visit.

On the first occasion that we visited, however, we used our motorbike to explore and reach the various hiking trails. As a result, I feel should point out that helmets are required when riding a motorbike in Nevada, including in the parks. We had just been in Arizona where helmets are not required. It had not dawned on us that the rules might be different in Nevada, especially as it is very rare for us not to wear helmets. It was extremely hot when we visited and as we were in the park where traffic is light and speed limits no more than 30 mph, we decided to risk it – and got pulled by the sherriff. Oops! He was very understanding though and allowed Peter to return to the RV to collect our helmets.

 

Camping in Valley of Fire

We have always visited Valley of Fire in our RV and the campsite in Valley of Fire is excellent. It is hidden away in its own red rock corral, which makes the experience of camping there special in itself. The fee to camp in the park includes an electric hook up and entry to the park. As with most State Parks there is a fee for entering the park, but the charge for camping usually includes this.

We stayed in the campsite the very first time we visited, but on the second visit it was absolutely full. Sites are available on a first come, first served basis, so an element of luck is involved in securing a site.

On the plus side, there is wild camping just a few miles away at Poverty Flats near Overton. This is perfectly acceptable if you are self-sufficient and don’t mind having to drive back into the park.

 

Valley of Fire State Park: a final word

Las Vegas is a major tourist attraction in the USA and people travel there from all over the world. Whilst there, they often take a trip to see the Hoover Dam and sometimes the Grand Canyon. It is only a two hour drive to Death Valley National Park, another major tourist attraction.  In fact, Las Vegas is a starting point for trips to many awesome places: check out 19 Amazing Day Trips from Vegas However, visitors to Las Vegas rarely visit Valley of Fire, even though it is so close. This may be because it is only designated a State Park and not a National Park. Little do they know that they are missing a real gem if they do not take that trip to the Las Vegas Fire Valley!

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Related Posts which you may enjoy:

Trip the Hike Fantastic: unforgettable hikes in the US

On the trail in the Grand Canyon

Exploring Death Valley: hike it, bike it, love it!

Little Ubehebe Crater

 

22 Comments

  1. Can’t say I’ve heard of it before. But see why it’s your numero uno. Love the rock formations and the ground even. It’s so different from what we know over here.

    Reply
  2. Fantastic post! As an American, I’ve never heard of this! I’d love to go and spend a few days hiking around with that very unique landscape!

    I bet in the summer it gets blistering hot though haha.

    I’m glad you and your husband didn’t face more issues with the motorbike helmet! (Yep, our rules differ state to state lol)

    Reply
    • Thanks Lannie. It was hot even when we were there in November and again in March! I am not sure why Valley of Fire is not on many people’s radar.

      Reply
  3. My aunt and cousins live in Vegas. They took me to Red Rock, but they didn’t mention Valley of Fire. I guess I’ll have to get back to Vegas and do more nature stuff outside the Strip (which is always more fun anyway!)

    Reply
    • Red Rock Canyon is great too, but I think Valley of Fire is more dramatic. Both worth visiting!

      Reply
  4. wow Jane. I’ve had to show this post to Dave to read as well. It’s definitely our type of place. The hikes are amazing with the different rock formations. Definitely on our list when we make it to Las Vegas. Thanks for sharing this little gem.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Wendy. I think it definitely is your kind of place!

      Reply
  5. I can see why it’s your favourite park Jane. The wave formations here are incredible and so photogenic. I love the Rainbow Vista the most, it lights up in the Nevada sunshine. Great post,

    Reply
  6. This place is gorgeous! I’ve been to Vegas many times, but haven’t made it to Valley of Fire yet…definitely on the list!

    Reply
  7. You’re right, I’ve never heard of this park! But how beautiful it is, I would love a visit here!!! Great descriptions and stunning pictures!

    Reply
  8. What a fun place to go and see some of nature’s art!

    Reply
  9. I’ve been here! Unfortunately we didn’t have enough tome to explore so I definitely have to go back!

    Reply
  10. Stunning rock formations Jane and a fantastic place to hike. I can’t believe it doesn’t get loads of visitors. Loved your photos!!

    Reply
  11. I would love to spend a few days hiking there. The rock formations and the colors are amazing.

    Reply
  12. I do wonder how a park becomes a National Park. I have spent a lot of time in Las Vegas, but for some reason have only hiked Red Rocks Park. My husband I have spoken about getting and RV after our first experience this summer. We would definitely like to stay among the rocks.

    Reply
  13. Mouse’s Tank?! Sometimes the names alone are worth it 😉

    The landscape in the southwest US really is quite amazing, and you captured it beautifully, Jane. Smart to leave some room for a new favorite though!

    Reply
  14. We have visited a lot of U.S. parks but must admit we have missed Valley of Fire. A good one to add to our list for a next park road trip. Those swirls of red rock looks fascinating. And so many interesting nooks and crannies to explore. Definitely need to explore more of Nevada!

    Reply
  15. I can see why this Valley of Fire State Park is your favorite! The rock formations in this park look incredible and the landscapes are beautiful. Perhaps it’s a blessing that this park is still a state park as they tend to be less overrun than the national parks are at times. I’ve never been to Nevada so I’ll have to put this state park on my list!

    Reply
    • I think that is right Becky. I really enjoy the calmer atmosphere in State Parks. The traffic in some of the larger National Parks is manic!

      Reply
  16. I can completely see what Valley of Fire State Park is your favourite State Park in the US. I am totally adding this to my list next time I am visiting my close friend in LA as I never realised that it is so close to Las Vegas.They want to do a camping trip next time we are there and glad to hear that we can do that there as it is ideal. Those colours and waves on the rocks look like nothing that I have seen before.

    Reply
  17. I really want to visit this park. Too bad the temperature was around 110 when we went to Las Vegas, so it’s not the best time at all. I think you have the best suggestions for visiting Valley of Fire SP. Did you do all of these trails in one day?

    Reply
  18. I can see why this is your favorite state park! Also, I’m pleasantly surprised to learn just how many state parks there are! I’ve always enjoyed checking out new ones when I travel but I do think that these varied, colorful rock formations would be so hard to beat. The American Southwest just has so much natural beauty, and I’ll have to add Valley of Fire to my travel wish list!

    Reply

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Hello

Hello!  I’m Jane. I live in the Lake District in the north of England with my husband, Peter. We love to travel, but this is a great place to call home.

We gave up work in order to travel and do all the things we were not able to do in our careers. We know we are incredibly lucky to be able to do this.

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