The Valley of Fire State Park is one of the most colorful and brilliant destinations in Nevada. It’s just an hour from Vegas, and it’s filled with scenic drives, petroglyphs, hiking trails, and panoramic vistas, among many other things. When you visit Las Vegas, you can’t possibly go back home without seeing the beauty of the Valley of Fire! It remains a favorite of both locals and tourists.
History of the Valley of Fire
The history of the Valley of Fire goes back to over 2,500 years ago when ancient petroglyphs carved into red sandstone formations. They were in what is currently Moapa Valley. By the 1860s, Mormon missionaries had settled in St. Thomas. They began to mine, farm, and ranch. In the 1930s, the waters of Lake Mead flooded St. Thomas during the construction of Hoover Dam.
In 1931, the federal government transferred 8,760 acres of land to Nevada and the creation of the Valley of Fire State Park began. Between 1933 and the early 1940s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) made stone cabins, campgrounds, rods, and trails, leading to the opening of the park in 1934. It officially adopted the name “the Valley of Fire State Park” in 1935. It was the first state park in Nevada.
How Did It Get Its Name?
Before it became designated as a state park, the Valley of Fire had been built as a part of the Arrowhead Trail to connect Los Angeles with Salt Lake City. The “Valley of Fire” was named so by an AAA official who was travelling through the broad at sunset and reportedly said that the region looked as if it was on fire.
What is the Best Time to Visit the Valley of Fire?
You can visit this park any time. But from my experience, it is extremely hot during summer months. Therefore, if you visit any time between October and April, bring plenty of water and protect yourself from the sun. If you visit Las Vegas during spring, fall, or winter, it will be a wonderful experience.
What Should I Pack When I’m Visiting?
This depends on the season you’re visiting, and whether you are travelling by tour or by car. However, I believe that there are some things that you must pack, regardless of the season. For example, you must carry a water bottle because you’ll be in the desert. You need to hydrate. You must have some good hiking shoes or boots because you’ll be doing a lot of walking. You must also have the Nevada state parks passport, hat and sunglasses for protection, and a lot of snacks to keep you nourished.
How Do I Get to the Valley of Fire from Las Vegas?
It is approximately 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas. It is about 20 minutes from Lake Mead if you use I-15 and State Route 169. It only has one main road. So, you won’t have a hard time navigating it. There is the Valley of Fire Scenic Byway that connects both the west and east entrances of the park in under 11 miles. A rental car would be the best option. But there are also tours such as the Grand Canyon Day Trip (which includes a trip to Hoover Dam) and Las Vegas Helicopter Tour at Night (which gives you an extremely unique experience), among many others.
Important Information about the Valley of Fire
- It’s not free if you use a car to enter the park. You have to pay $10 per vehicle with Nevada plates and $15 per vehicle with non-Nevada plates.
- Drones aren’t allowed.
- There are shaded areas with restrooms at Seven Sisters, Atlatl, and the Cabins. There are also others around the Mouse’s Tank Trailhead and the White Domes.
- You can bring your dog, but they must have a leash.
- The Visitor Center is open on a daily basis and the Campgrounds are accessible 24 hours.
- There are designated places for fires where there are fireplaces and grills.
What Can I Do When I Visit the Valley of Fire?
#1: See Fire Canyon (Silica Dome Viewpoint)
It is a very easily accessibly place at the Valley of Fire because it is at the center. It is a high point and you will get to overlook the most stunning features of the park, which are the Silica Dome and the Fire Canyon.
#2: Observe Petrified Logs
They feature petrified wood that are the fossil of a tree that turned into stone. They were formed when trees were carried from forests that were far away by water and buried beneath mineral deposits. The minerals then replaced the wood in a manner resembling the structure of the tree. They are in the southwestern part of the park and are in a fenced area for protection.
#3: Visit the Fire Cave
It is one of the first sites in the park if you go hiking along the 7 Wonders Loop Trail. When you hike to the Kaolin Wash, you will find it on the left side. Its pastel-colored rocks make it one of the most beautiful places in the park. If you visit in the morning, it will be covered in shade, but that doesn’t take away the pastel rock.
#4: See the Rainbow Vista
There is no doubt that this is one of the most beautiful locations in the Valley of Fire. The Rainbow Vista Trail has different colors that you will see and you can get a glimpse of them from the beginning. There are shades of red, brown, and white, and in between. It is around 1.1 miles and you can take an hour or so. When you reach the end, you will see the Fire Canyon.
#5: Visit the Balancing Rock
It gets its name from the fact that it looks as if its top is balancing. The column becomes narrower as it gets to the top, making it to appear this way. If you want to visit this location, hike from the Visitor Center. It’s located near White Domes Road and the trail is very easy to hike. It is 20 feet tall and an eighth of a mile down the trail. Since the rock is fragile, you are advised not to climb it. But it has beautiful views.
#6: Gaze at the Arch Rock
The Arch Rock sits along the Scenic loop Road in the western part of the park. It’s located 0.3 miles down the trail from Atlatl Rock. It is on top of a rounded rock that was formed through erosion. It is at the right side of the trail. So, you won’t have a hard time locating it. It is also very fragile. You are advised not to climb on top of it.
#7: Behold the Pink Canyon
The Pink Canyon is also called the Pastel Canyon. It is a small canyon made of stones in different shades of pink. It is one of the most popular places on the 7 Wonders Loop Trail. I recommend that you visit it in the morning when the sun is not yet too high in the sky so that you get to see the different hues of pink. It’s located past Stripped Rock in the Kaolin Wash extension.
#8: Recognize the Atlatl Rock
It gets its name from the word “atlatl,” which defines people that threw darts or sticks to make them sharper. It’s located along the Scenic Loop Road and is about 2 miles long. It has etchings that were carved into red rock by the ancient tribes. You will get to see Native American petroglyphs in person. There is a staircase on the side. So, you can go up to the area of viewing to see the petroglyphs up close.
These are my top 8 things that you can do when you visit the Valley of Fire. However, there are many others. They constitute the most popular and most beautiful places in the park. Just to mention a few, you can;
- Spot the Beehives (near the west entrance of the park)
- See the Seven Sisters (on the right side of the Valley of Fire Road)
- Gawk at the White Domes (at the end of the White Domes Road)
- See the Fire Wave
- Look at the Mouse’s Tank
- Visit Elephant Rock