The Beauty is in the Details – Valley of Fire State Park, NV

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Valley of Fire State Park

I thought two posts would cover our stop at this gem in Nevada, but there’s so much breathtaking beauty here that I had to cover some of it in more detail.  I promise this is my final post on Valley of Fire!

Valley of Fire State Park

Massive Aztec sandstone that forms the red rock of Valley of Fire, seen from the Pinnacles Trail

After taking the scenic drive and hiking around the area, we revisited the valley (pictured above) at sunrise and again at sunset to further immerse ourselves in details of the formations.  We wanted to answer some questions, like how did all of these colors and textures come about?

We knew from past experience that the presence of iron gives rocks that red hue in the soil and mountains.  Tumultuous earth events over millions of years, plus the handiwork of wind and water erosion over time have left us with the incredible vistas here.

Valley of Fire

Geologic forces and erosion in other places we’ve visited have left landforms that took our breath away.  But the forces that created Valley of Fire are concentrated in a relatively small land area when compared to places like the Pictured Rocks in Upper MichiganPainted Desert in Arizona, Artist Pallete at Death Valley or the badlands in North Dakota and South Dakota.  The colorful array of rocks, swirls, patterns and folds are always extraordinary, but this place was really top notch!

Valley of Fire

As usual, my photos can’t do justice to what we saw, and be forewarned that this will be a rocky post!

Sunrise

These photos were taken at Wash #5, the 5th dip on the scenic drive.  If you don’t want to leave your car in the wash, park at Lot #3 and cross the road to follow the Firewall Trail. Then prepare to be awestruck!

Valley of Fire

Valley of fire

Valley of fire

Slot Canyon, Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire

Valley of fire

Rock peelings

Valley of fire

Valley of fire

Our question as to why there are such color differences in the rocks was answered by a visitor center display.  It advised that the Aztec sandstone does indeed derive its characteristic red color from iron oxide in the rock.  How the iron got into the various layers is a subject of debate among geologists.  Some theorize it leached downward through the porous sandstone through overlying rock.  But others note that some areas in the upper layers are white and do not contain iron oxide.  This suggests that the rocks have actually been stained from the bottom up by water circulating minerals from the iron-rich layers beneath.  Whichever is true, the result is gorgeous!

Sunset

Back I went at the end of the day to have another look around.  First I went out onto the Fire Canyon Trail to check it out.  We had not followed this short trail because we’re not crazy about hiking in deep sand.  But what caught my attention here were the desert plants that seemed to glow in the sun’s reflection as it bounced off the red rocks.

Desert Almond

Desert shrub, Valley of Fire

Brittle Brush

From there I drove back to the scenic road and stopped at Lot #2 for a walk down the hill. The sun was low and the rocks were aglow!  I named this area the Peachy Swirl Sundae or Orange Sundae.  I was happy to be all alone, and so giddy that I didn’t know which way to point my camera!  Sure enough, the formations at this time of the day had been transformed into a dramatic and lively landscape.

Valley of fire

Valley of Fire

Valley of fire

Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire

Can you spot the car out there?  The scenic road runs right by these brilliant formations

Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire

This was such a stunning place that I eventually put my camera down and just sat there savoring the panorama until the sun dipped below the horizon.  I was blown away!

Sunset at Valley of Fire

And this is just the beginning of our adventures in the land of multi-colored rocks.  Our next stop begins a 3-month adventure in the mother lode of vividly-colored rock formations – Utah!

 white-tailed antelope squirrel

A White-tailed Antelope Squirrel says, “Come back soon, I’ll be waiting for you!”

 

Next up:  Hello, Utah!



 

11 thoughts on “The Beauty is in the Details – Valley of Fire State Park, NV

  1. Fabulous … all those swirls of color. I especially like the sunset colors. When we visited in the 1980’s we obviously didn’t do the place justice.

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  2. Your sunrise and sunset photos are spectacular:) The pastel colors in Wash 5 took our breath away, too. Love the colors you found at sunset from Lot 2:)

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  3. Absolutely spectacular, and so artistic. I love the way you captured the colors and the details of the rock formations. I’m trying to figure out if we can fit this in on our way back West this spring, or if we have to wait until fall. Either way, I can’t wait to see this place in person! I would love to spend a week there, as you have.

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    • Try to swing by at least a day or two if schedule is tight. Its really worth your time, guaranteed!

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  4. That last shot is just darling but the real stars are the colors. Just simply magnificent photography Mona Lisa. I can see why you wanted to record even more of this beautiful place. Never think there are too many posts from one place. Remember this past summer when we spent months in Shenandoah National Park. Thankfully my faithful readers didn’t care that they were seeing the same place time and again. I’d be happy to have many more posts from the Valley of Fire. I just can’t wait to see it myself now.

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  5. Oh my goodness. What breathtaking photos! You have out done yourself for sure. Thank you so much for laying out a wonderful route for others to follow. We hope to get back out there and explore that entire area. We missed it the last time we visited. Great job!

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  6. Excellent! We were there 2 years ago and loved it.

    harleyhawk43.wordpress.com

    On Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 8:47 AM, The Lowes RV adventures wrote:

    > Lowe’s RV Travels posted: “I thought two posts would cover our stop at > this gem in Nevada, but there’s so much breathtaking beauty here that I > had to cover some of it in more detail. I promise this is my final post on > Valley of Fire! After taking the scenic drive and hiking aro” >

    Like

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