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.
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 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.
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.
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.
And whilst you are in Valley of Fire, don’t forget to look out for…
This quirky rock formation is near the East Entrance to the park.
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.
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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