Valley of Fire is open and such a great escape from the city of Las Vegas. This beautiful place that consists of bright red Aztec sandstone handsomely nestled within limestone mountains.
If you’re looking to catch up on your petroglyphs reading, there are many of these messages carved into the rocks by the Basketmaker culture about 2,500 years ago.
A place that was also home to Early Pueblo culture, and Paiutes called Valley of Fire home as recent as 1865. You will see some evidence of this when visiting. So let me guide you through this stunning destination.
WELCOME TO VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK
If you’re visiting Las Vegas, take some time off from the Las Vegas Strip and ziplining to venture out to Valley of Fire State Park for an easy day trip. You will not regret it! Valley of Fire Las Vegas is noteworthy for its 40,000 acres of blooming red and pink Aztec sandstone and petroglyphs that have been around for thousands of years.
A history of the Park reveals early pueblo cultures in its geological marvels and rich flora and fauna. During sunset, it literally looks like it’s on fire (and can feel like it too sometimes!), hence the name. I also consider Valley of Fire a mini version of other extremely famous hikes (more on that later).
GETTING TO VALLEY OF FIRE NATIONAL PARK
Where is Valley of Fire State Park? Valley of Fire is located about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas, or about an hour drive from Vegas. Take the I-15 north to Exit 75 onto the two-laned road, Valley of Fire Highway (NV 169).
The Nevada State Park charges an entrance fee of $10 Nevada vehicle and $15 per non-Nevada vehicle. The Park is open from sunrise to sunset, whereas the Visitor Center is open from 8:30am to 4:30pm. And, Fido is welcome too ?
The drive along the main road is unremarkable until you get to Valley of Fire. Once here, you may recognize the celebrity landscape featured in films such as Transformers, Star Trek: Generations, Total Recall, and Casino.
Depending on whether you want to drive though this Park or stop and hike to some impressive scenery, plan on spending from an hour to five hours here. But you can easily spend a whole day checking out these unique rock formations. So, are you ready to get started!
Camping in Valley of Fire
There are two camping spots and each cost $20 per night for Nevada vehicles and $25 per night for non-Nevada vehicles. Both are located near the West entrance by Atlatl Rock and Arch Rock. Neither take reservations and Arch Rock closes for part of the year.
Atlatl Rock Campground has 44 RV sites with differing levels of amenities including picnic areas with several picnic tables. Some are equipped with pretty good amenities like a picnic table, barbeque grill, power and water hookups for RV’s (an additional $10 per night). A handful are standard sites without hookups. The bathrooms have flush toilets and showers.
Arch Rock Campground has 29 RV sites and seem to be more privately situated. It too, has some sites with full amenities, however, it only has vault toilets and no showers.
You will have the scenic views of the red rocks from both campgrounds.
BEST TIME TO VISIT VALLEY OF FIRE
Valley of Fire is part of the Mojave Desert, which means there isn’t plenty of shade, which means it’s especially important to time your visit right. The best time to visit is shoulder seasons, February/March and October. The sun isn’t as blazing hot and you can explore longer hikes.
The early morning is the best time in the summer months for hiking trails. Explore a short trail or two. Then when it gets too hot, you can spend some time in the visitors center, then drive the scenic loop in the late afternoon.
In the cooler months, especially late Fall, there’s much more time to enjoy your favorite hike around these red rock formations.
VALLEY OF FIRE MAP
Valley of Fire has a west entrance and east entrance.
NOTE: You will only have cell service in certain areas, such as Parking Lot 3 and near White Domes.
VALLEY OF FIRE PHOTOGENIC SPOTS
Upon entering from the popular route I-15 entrance, the first stop is Beehives. It’s the first thing you see and will usually be a quick stop. These sandstone formations were created by geological cross-bedding. These formations were weathered by the eroding forces of wind and water creating layers or beds. And today, it resulted in these stunning giant beehives.
You can climb on them and even in the “honeycomb” to snap some adorable photos.
Atlatl Rock is located close to Beehives, but on Campground Road. Here you’ll find some of the most preserved rock carvings and petroglyphs. Ascend a tall metal staircase to view these ancient writings up close and at the same time, get a nice view of the Park.
Close to Atlatl Rock, you’ll find Arch Rock. This reminds me of the mini version of Arches National Park in Utah or Joshua Tree National Park in California. Similar to the other arch formations, over thousands of years of wind and water erosion, the natural arch formed.
However this small arch is much too delicate to climb and it can only be viewed from a distance. So stop, get out of the car, take a peek, snap a picture and head to Arches if you want to get closer to an arch.
First stop from the East entrance (via Lake Mead), you’ll find Elephant Rock. Like Beehives, I think the name speaks for itself.
You’ll have to do a short walk, about half a mile, to get to this impressive Elephant, so park in the lot near the east entrance and take the trail. Although you can see the formation from the road, there’s no parking on the shoulder. Although despite this, you may find some cars on the side of the road…
Be sure to make your way around the entire Elephant for differing views.
BEST HIKES IN VALLEY OF FIRE
Fire Wave Trail
Distance: 1.25 miles (2 km) round trip
Time: 45-60 minutes
Unlike Fire Canyon, this trail sometimes isn’t on the map given to you when entering the Park. I would recommend this to be your first hike and first stop after Beehives. Although it’s a pretty easy hike, the trail doesn’t have any shade so you can really swelter in the summer.
The trail begins in the soft beach-like sand across from Parking Lot 3. After the beach sand, you’ll pass some stacked red and white layered slickrock before reaching the actual Wave. But when you do, it’s definitely a sight to see and apparently the hang out and picnic lunch spot.
This is the mini version of the Wave in Arizona and the bonus is this trail is much shorter and you don’t need a permit to hike it. Another bonus is you can post any pictures to social media that you’ve taken so far as the Parking Lot has cell reception.
White Domes Trail
Distance: 1.25 miles (2 km) roundtrip
Time: 45-60 minutes
Drive farther past Parking Lot 3 until the road dead ends into White Domes Loop parking lot. This parking area leads to another trail that begins in the soft beach-like sand. You’ll be astounded by the different rock formation colors as you venture though small slot canyons (like a mini Antelope Canyon in Arizona), and even pass the remnants of an old 1966 movie set, The Professionals.
White Domes Road
If you want a shot of the famous photo that Valley of Fire is known for, then you want to the shot of White Domes road (or Mouse’s Tank road) . If you’re headed back toward Vegas, the perfect spot is right past Rainbow Vista to perfectly capture this curvy canyon road. Even better is if you climb the rock, you’ll get a better vantage point of the road.
VALLEY OF FIRE IF YOU HAVE TIME
- Visitor Center: There’s some interesting exhibits, books, souvenirs and a great place to stop to fill up your water bottle or use the bathrooms. No food, just visitor information.
- Mouse’s Tank: A short less than a mile roundtrip easy hike to a natural basin where water collects after rainfall.
- Rainbow Vista: A short mile (less than a km) hike that ends with a short climb to gain gorgeous panoramic views of Valley of Fire.
- Pink Canyon: Also called Pastel Canyon, as you can imagine, this short hike is just pretty 🙂
- Seven Sisters: A group of seven tall, red, eroded boulders in sand dunes. These amazing rock formations perfect backdrop for weddings.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON VALLEY OF FIRE
I highly recommend that when visiting Las Vegas that you take time to hike or camp at Valley of Fire. It’s relatively short distance and you will not regret it. You can book your Las Vegas accommodations right here before you go!
Just remember it’s a desert, so if you go during the spring/summer months, be prepared with water, sunscreen and because there’s very little shade, hike accordingly and try to arrive as early as possible.
Have you been? Would love to hear your experience.
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