What is the Valley of Fire?
As the oldest and largest state park in the US, and one that is open all year, the Valley of Fire is a great getaway. Only 6 miles from Lake Mead and 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas, the park showcases ancient trees, petrified wood, and 3,000-year-old Indian petroglyphs.
The Valley of Fire State Park is a public nature reserve area covering 46,000 acres of bright red sandstone formations and limestone mountains in the Mojave Desert, southern Nevada, 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The valley gets its namesake from the effect the sun has as it hits the red rocks rich in iron oxide, illuminating the valley.
This ancient landscape offers some impressive sights. See petrified pine trees that grew in the valley around 150 million years ago. Hike to the 2,500-year-old petroglyphs carved into the rocks by the Basketmaker culture.
The park hosts only a fraction of the visitors as nearby Grand Canyon does each year giving it a more tranquil environment.
The park is open every day of the year from sunrise to sunset.
When is the Best Time to Visit the Valley of Fire?
The park experiences mild winters ranging between 32˚F to 75˚F (0˚C to 24˚C) along with light winter showers. Summer days may be very hot, possibly exceeding 100˚F (37˚C) even reaching 120˚F (48˚C). Summer nights tend to cool off and summer thunderstorms are a possibility.
Spring and fall are the best times to visit the park to escape the oppressive heat. The spring also offers the bloom of wildflowers such as desert marigold, indigo bush, and desert mallow, along the roadsides, and is a beautiful sight. To capture the full effect of the brilliant landscape it is best to come early in the morning or stay until sunset.
How Do I get to the Valley of Fire?
Driving northeast from Las Vegas for 56 miles takes approximately 1 hour. Leaving the city, take the I-15 heading North. Take exit 75 towards Valley of Fire E/Lake Mead and then continue for 18 miles, turn left onto Mouse’s Tank Road, and finally take a right at the Valley of Fire Visitor’s Center.
What Great Things are there to do at the Valley of Fire?
Stop by the visitors center on your way into the park for local information, books, souvenirs, and exhibits on the geology, ecology, and history of the park. The visitor’s centers are from 9 am until 4:30 pm daily.
If you only have a short time in the park then a drive down White Domes Road, a paved, scenic road, will take you by some highlights including, petroglyphs, several trails, canyons, and viewpoints.
Atlatl Rock, one of the most popular places in the park to see petroglyphs, has a staircase installed into the side of it where you can climb to admire the art and a view of the landscape. Hike through Petroglyph Canyon Trail to get your fill of petroglyphs and to see Mouse’s Tank, a hidden basin that traps and holds water during long dry periods.
The geological processes that carved out these sandstone rocks have left behind some peculiar shapes such as Elephant Rock, and The Beehives which look just as they sound.
Rainbow Vista Trail is picturesque from start to finish and offers panoramic views of the vibrant landscape. The Fire Wave Trail, another natural attraction, leads to an orange and white striped bowl that you can walk across.
Every March the park hosts the Annual Atlatl Competition. The Atlatl is an ancient hunting weapon preceding the bow and arrow. Participants compete in two events and many people come to observe the event.
If you’re looking for more information on each rock point and some great points of interest, visit the Valley of Fire Nevada Parks website. Each rock formation is fabulous on its own and the stories behind just add to the enchantment. The petrified wood and animals that cohabitate in this area are worth the drive to explore.
Where to Stay in the Park
There is a day-use fee of $10.00 per vehicle. The camping fee is $20.00 per night + $10.00 for sites with utility hookups. RV sites with power and water hookups are available and all campsites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The campground has restrooms, a dump station, water, and showers. The campsites all have grills and shaded tables. There are day-use/picnic areas for those who are not staying the night.
Getting around the park can be done by vehicle or bicycle. Use the White Dome Road and the Scenic Loop Road which branches off the Valley of Fire Highway. Exploring deeper into the park can only be done on foot via marked hiking trails.
Park is open from sunrise to sunset to the public who are not camping inside the park.
Things to Remember While Visiting Valley of Fire State Park
- The park offers a variety of wifi plans
- Park/drive only on designated roads/parking spaces
- Fires permitted in designated fire pits only
- Valley of Fire Hiking Elevation Range: 1,500′ to 3,000′
- Pets must be kept on a leash under six feet long and are not permitted in the visitor’s center.
- Removing, disturbing, or damaging any historic structure, artifact, rock, plant life, fossil, or other feature is prohibited. State and federal laws protect this area and its resources.
- The desert is extremely fragile so remember to pack out absolutely everything that you pack in leaving no trace. Preserve this wondrous destination for years to come.
Looking for a road trip that includes the Valley of Fire? Check out our latest article on a One Way RV Rental from Los Angeles to Vegas. Looking for more National Parks? Check out Lassen Volcanic National Park.