Valley of Fire is one of those rare places that exceeded my expectations…it’s a state park located about 80 minutes northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada. I was initially going to meet friend and fellow travel blogger, Fran Reisner, in Zion National Park for a long weekend, however due to some unforeseen circumstances, we were running a bit late. Fran and I were converging on Las Vegas from different directions, from there we were to caravan to Zion. I needed to be in Las Vegas on Monday for an assignment, so we didn’t have much time to spare. Since there was no way to make Zion that day, we decided to find a place nearby to camp for the night—from there we would reevaluate the rest of the weekend. While the delay we encountered forced us to find an alternative place to for the night, it allowed us to discover one of those unexpected gems of the road…Valley of Fire State Park.
It was dusk by the time we arrived at one of the Valley of Fire campgrounds, so the beauty that surrounded us would not be fully appreciated or revealed until dawn. After fixing some dinner and getting caught up, we both retired for the evening. The weather was perfect and the stars were amazingly bright. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how dark as it was…I fully expected a significant amount of light pollution from the luminous Vegas glow. As it were, the geological wonder nestled us within its womb as it shielded the area for us stargazing enthusiasts.
After a peaceful nights rest with hardly a sound to be heard, we woke to an amazing sunrise that cast its amber glow among the circumambient firery rock formations. The first thing we did was venture out to capture some photos of the remarkable landscape. As the sun rose higher on the horizon, and the magical kelvin light dissipated, we headed back to camp to cook breakfast. Without question, we both agreed that Valley of Fire required more exploration…Zion would have to wait for another day.
With 44,000 acres of awe-inspiring and diverse landscape in front of us, we had a lot of ground to cover. Some of the highlights included:
- Seven Sisters: A fascinating series of red rock formations that were easily accessible from the road.
- Beehives: The sandstone formations in this area have eroded in such a way that they resemble “beehives.”
- Arch Rock: This was very close to our campground with the same name. There two-mile scenic loop provides views of some of the valley’s most interesting rock formations.
- Atatl Rock: Here you can climb several flights of stairs to observe petroglyphs and the vista below.
- Mouse’s Tank: This is a half-mile hike, passing several examples of prehistoric petroglyphs. Mouse’s Tank is a natural basin in the rock where water collects after a good rainfall, sometimes remaining for months at a time.
- Rainbow Vista: This was an extraordinary view and clearly a favorite place for folks to stop and take pictures of the multi-colored sandstone.
- Petrified Logs: Here you’ll see logs and stumps that washed into the area from an ancient forest that dates back 225 million years ago.
Valley of Fire was a wonderful diversion from our initial intended destination…a place I would absolutely visit again. If you’ve ever been to Valley of Fire State Park, please leave a comment below and share your favorite aspects with my readers and me.