The drive along the north shore road from Lake Mead National Recreation Area was a colorful and rocky landscape that lead us to one of Nevada’s hidden gems, Valley of Fire State Park. I must warn my readers that this post and several succeeding ones will be laden with geologic rocks in various forms, shapes and colors.
Steve was happy that the road was well paved, unlike the many crappy roads in Tucson, AZ. Since it was so nice, he was able to enjoy the scenery more than usual as we negotiated the curvy and hilly roads snaking through the dramatic landscape.
Valley of Fire S.P. is located just 50 miles northeast of the bright lights of Las Vegas. It’s named for the red sandstone formations that have been carved by shifting sand dunes that were formed and solidified during the age of dinosaurs. It’s really an island of red rocks in the desert, and because the sun was hitting it at just the right angle when we arrived it looked like the rocks were ablaze. Amazing!
We arrived early in the morning, as the campground sites are on a first-come first-served basis. At 40′ plus a car we had a choice of three spots, and fortunately site #24 had just been vacated. Although many of the electric/water sites were very out of level, we were able to get close in this one (Steve’s review here).
The forecast for the following day called for wind and possibly rain, so once we were hooked up we immediately drove the scenic drive. I had seen pictures of this park, but we were not prepared for the out-of-this-world landscape here!
We first pulled over at the Petroglyph Canyon Trail, where evidence of human use of the area was etched on the canyon walls. Nobody knows the meaning of these symbols, but the art reflects the thoughts of these people 4,000 years ago. The trail was short, but walking through deep sand along a rocky drainage area made the going a bit difficult.
Not only did the petroglyphs keep us constantly looking up at the canyon walls, but also the many eroded rocks in fascinating forms grabbed our attention..
At the summit the road opened up to reveal an amazing display of rocks in many colors, aptly named Rainbow Vista. We parked and climbed up a huge outcropping to enjoy a 360-degree panorama of 150 million year old colored rocks, canyons, domes, ridges and valleys. The panel described the view as a wild and virtually untouched wilderness carved from sand deposited during the time when dinosaurs walked the earth.
Its spectacular, its amazing, its surreal!
Next we swung by Fire Canyon Road and viewed the dramatic change from white to red in the sandstone which was caused by small quantities of iron that produced rust-like stains.
Back on the road, we drove slowly so we could ogle the many layers of multicolored rocks. There were pull-outs and parking lots that allowed more close-up exploration, but for now we just drove leisurely as we “oohed” and “aahed” on our way to White Dome Rock.
“Wow!” was all we could say at every turn. The short White Dome Rock Trail showcased a little bit of everything here, and a walk in the cream-colored sand led us past a slot canyon where we gawked at massive formations with contrasting colors amidst the Mohave Desert landscape.
We saw a sign that listed movies that had been filmed in the area over the years. We plan to keep our eyes open for them to see how the locations were used.
After a short hike we backtracked and stopped at parking lot #3 to access the famed “Firewave”. It’s reminiscent of the Coyote Buttes in the Vermillion Cliffs, which are called “The Wave”. Since we haven’t been able to get a reservation at The Wave so far, we’re content to see a sampling of it here. This place is incredible and I’m running out of adjectives to describe it!
The scenic drive and short trails can be done in a day. For those of you visiting Las Vegas, take a day off from gambling if you have a car and make a day trip out here. It’s a seriously wild place, with the fascinating details yet to come!
I took so many photos that I couldn’t decide which ones to post, but you really need to come here and see this fascinating place for yourself.
“Wow” is a much overworked word among us travelers, but sometimes its all there is to say!
Wow, the valley is on fire all right! What amazing colours and patterns! I’d much rather go see those landscapes than gamble in Las Vegas. What an awesome place.
Been there a few times and always love it. Besides the beauty, I love the silence. Altho I see a lot of cars on the road, guess I’ve managed to catch the quiet times 🙂
I am not sure I have ever seen so many different colors in one area. Absolutely Gorgeous.
You summed up my feelings exactly!! We had seen several blogs on the park, but they didn’t prepare us for the jaw dropping beauty. It is such a fantastic playground and the colors are incredible. So glad you and Steve got to enjoy it. Thanks for all the photos…so many great memories:)
Amazing, just amazing! You selected just enough fabulous pictures to make us want to see this in person! And at the rate we’re going (or not) we may never see it in person. 😞
But you’ve so beautifully captured the essence, I feel like we’re there with you!
It’s been over twenty years since I last visited Valley of Fire. Thanks for taking me back and reminding me a revisit is in order.
Beautiful pictures! Since we will be travelling in that area in the next month, we may stop and do some hiking. Thank you for the ideas.
Thanks for the information and great photo’s, we can’t wait to visit this state park 🙂
Your pictures of this place are spectacular. I was dropping my jaw at this beauty. Lucky lucky you two to be in such an amazing place. This is on my list for sure. Glad you could get a spot that worked for you in the park. Event he drive to the park was gorgeous. Did you get out of the RV and run ahead to get that picture? Love it! We have hardly any pictures of Winnona actually on the road driving.
Spent many an Easter at Valley of Fire with Grandparents and Great Grandmother rolling eggs down those hills. Makes me miss my desert home. Beautiful as always! Loved Valley of Fire. If it is still there-trek over to Overton and the Lost City Museum.
We didn’t stay at Valley of Fire, but visited it often when we were in Las Vegas. I so understand the “running out of adjectives”. Your pictures are absolutely beautiful, but Pam is right…everyone needs to see it in person.
Triple-WOW!! your wonderful photos do justice to the Earth’s aged beauty.
So dramatically beautiful! I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to get lottery tickets for the Wave, but seeing your photos makes me think maybe we could be content with exploring Valley of Fire. I especially love the photos of Steve standing on the Firewave and you overlooking the valley. Staying there sounds wonderful!
I must go there. Your photos are amazing and beautiful! I didn’t know this places existed.
Back in the early 1980s we stopped to visit Valley of Fire … amongst our first red rock experience. We walked in one of those sandy canyons and I remember it as being more difficult than it looked because of the depth of the sand. Lots of Wow moments for sure.
Fantastic photos of an amazing place!
Loved the pictures of the firewave, did it take you long to get there? You guys always find the really great spots, probably because you walk further than we do!
We loved our stay at Valley of Fire. Some of the most interesting rock formations we have seen.
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