Valley of Fire is a hugely underrated State Park, located about one hour’s drive north of Las Vegas, off of I-15. The closer attractions of Red Rock Canyon and Mt. Charleston receive more fanfare, but in our opinion, Valley of Fire deserves just as much attention. Let’s tell you why…
The red rock formations at Valley of Fire are much more softer and pliable than at Red Rock, the result is much more shaping and erosion of the rocks from eons of high winds and water. The rocks here are twisted, pocketed, indented, and feature many natural arches and leaning spires. The scenery here is like a cross between the desert southwest and the surface of Mars.
Valley of Fire is a Nevada State Park, and as such, does not accept Federal Park Passes. The size of the Park and its trails are smaller than Red Rock Canyon, but the views are absolutely remarkable. This is a photographer’s dream come true. Once you pay for admission at the main park gate ($10 per vehicle), you can take a look at the map you are given… it lists most of the hikes, attractions, named rocks, petroglyph fields, and all the facilities (camp sites, parking areas, bathrooms, etc.)
Valley of Fire offers a lot of different things to do. For the hiking enthusiast, there are many trails across varied terrain – most are short hikes, 0.5 to 1.5 miles round-trip. For those that are not into hiking, there are plenty of scenic points to view towering rock formations, ancient petroglyph art work, and multi-colored textured terrain — all great opportunities for photography. Some of our favorite points of interest in the park are:
1.) White Domes – hiking trail that takes you past a 90-year old movie set, through a narrow slot canyon, and across a panoramic valley.
2.) Mouse Tanks – hikling trail that leads to a large petroglyph field.
3.) “The Wave” – a series of large rock formations made up of swirling colored bands on the rock face. Hike to here and take a lot of photos!
4.) Elephant Rock – a very unusual rock formation that actually looks like a big elephant.
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