From glaciers to a valley of fire
I happened upon Valley of Fire State Park right outside of Las Vegas, NV after spending 10 incredibly cold days in Alaska chasing the Northern Lights and any way to stay warm without wearing 40 layers of clothing. It truly was an adventure of a lifetime but I was ready to escape to the desert and ditch a few layers of clothes along the way. Valley of Fire seemed like a perfect beginning to a desertcapade. I have been to Las Vegas more times that I’d like to admit to party when I was younger, and then lately my escapades on the strip have been replaced by stays in Red Rock Conservation Area to climb and enjoy a little bit of the dirtbag lifestyle but I never quite made it to Valley of Fire State Park. Now was the time.
I started out by grabbing a little brochure from the entrance station and stopping at the Beehives, a side of the road rock formations that people can climb and take lots of pictures with. They were pretty neat, but way too populated for my liking. I was anxious to see what else this park had to offer. Back to the car!
Next stop was Atlatl Rock, a very short climb up some stairs to some petroglyphs left from the Anasazi people that modern people had obviously defaced and added their own graffiti too. Seeing that kind of stuff really saddens me and makes me question so much of humanity. Why? Just why?!
Once hopping back in the car you can continue on this short off-shoot loop (Scenic Loop Road) off the main road to see Arch Rock, a pretty cool arch a stone’s throw off of the road. Both of the campsites in the park are located around this loop as well and it seemed like it would be pretty cool to stay at one of them in the future, having endless amounts of scrambling and exploring at your fingertips. I was not tempted to go very fast as I made my way around this loop with crazy cool rock formations around each bend.
Before heading to the Visitor Center I popped onto the Petrified Logs Loop. This was a short jaunt out of the car to see a couple of pretty trippy-looking logs that are pretty much stone. Solid.
Back on the main road I headed towards the Visitor Center that had even more information about the park and spots that I shouldn’t miss. While parked there you can take a short trail to visit Balancing Rock, a formation that shouldn’t be missed!
After returning to my car I was itching to hit up the next trail, one that I heard was a rival to the Wave in Page, Arizona, the Fire Wave Trail. This hike clocked in at only 1.5 miles roundtrip but you could easily spend hours wandering around the rock architecture around here.
The Fire Wave Trail starts out across from P3 on White Domes Rd. As soon as you venture across the street and see the signs for the trail you are struck by the massive Gibraltar Rock that juts out in front of you like a giant watchtower exerting its dominance over the surrounding land. I paid my respects to this massive rock as I hiked around it and could see some of the delights that lay ahead. The trail went from sand to stone, following stacks of cairns along the way although this is a trail where wandering away from the main stretch is enticing and a must for getting a closer look at some of the crazy colors of the rocks.
I definitely spent a decent amount of time on the Fire Wave Trail but knew that I will return and finally decided to explore one more hike in the park, the White Domes Loop. This 1.25 mile loop hike starts at the end of White Domes Road and was one of the highlights of the whole park. The scenery changed around each bend, exposing an old film set mixed with magnificently blushingly pink rock marbled with peachy sandstone and patterns that only Dr. Seuss could create. I gasped as I entered where the trail narrows into the canyon, what a magical hike!
Even though I was already enthralled with everything I had seen thus far there was more to come! As I exited the small canyon I couldn’t stop taking pictures to my left and right and then I saw people start to gather. As I approached I saw why, two bighorn sheep were making a grand journey across the rocks to our right. How cool!
I finally finished up my day and my journey in Valley of Fire State Park….for now. I was super impressed with what I saw and will not hesitate to return to this tantalizing landscape in the future! You can see a lot in a day but I would suggest taking your time and spending a night camping and really exploring what this State Park has to offer (there are longer trails in the park!). If you want to go here as well here a few things to note: