The Valley of Fire is Nevada’s very first State Park. Named in 1935 to reflect its firy sandstone formations and petrified sand dunes it suits its name perfectly. A tour of The Valley of Fire, set in the wild beauty of the Mojave Desert, offers a dramatic and refreshing contrast to the city.
So, when the bright lights and craziness of Las Vegas have burnt you out; when you’re done with the bells and whistles of the casinos and the neon lights of The Strip are indelibly etched into your mind’s eye it’s time to strike out and see a different side of Nevada with Pink Jeep Tours.
Just 50 miles North East of Las Vegas you’ll find a startlingly different world from The Strip. The sun highlights a landscape ablaze with colour; russet-red, ochre and amber. It’s a landscape of rock arches, domes and colourful vistas shaped and contoured by wind, water and weather. Vibrant layered sandstones, shales and fault lines in the rock form the varied and fascinating landscape of The Valley of Fire State Park.
After entering the state park and passing through a rippling red terrain, the result of continuous faulting and soil erosion, we came to our first stop at The Beehives. The large sandstone structures, subjected to years of erosion by wind and water, have formed into unusual beehive shapes.
Atlatl Rock and Petroglyphs
The next stop on our Valley of Fire tour was Atlatl Rock – atlatls are ancient weapons that preceded the bow and arrow in many parts of the world and are one of man’s first mechanical inventions. We climbed up a metal staircase attached to the rock to view some ancient petroglyphs thought to be over 4000 years old carved by native American cultures. There were symbols that looked like footprints, trees, water and long-horned animals. The photo of the petroglyphs below is just behind Atlatl Rock and show up the carvings more clearly. There are many areas throughout the state park where petroglyphs can be seen and we also took a short hike up a canyon trail later in the tour where we spotted more. Our guide was very into petroglyphs.
Valley of Fire Cabins
Three cabins, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps soon after the Valley of Fire became a state park in 1935 , are for travellers visiting the park. There’s a picnic area nearby where we stopped for lunch and saw some ground squirrels skorting around – the cute little creatures know where to go for easy pickings. There are many trails in the Valley of Fire and camping facilities for staying overnight.
Rainbow Vista is a very different viewpoint from the red terrain you can see as you enter the Valley of Fire. The road here reaches the top of a low ridge looking out for many miles over a vast area of multi-coloured rocks. The road gives an idea of the scale of the area.
Just a short hike from the visitor centre is a famous Valley of Fire formation – Balanced Rock. How the top boulder stays balanced on the rest of the stack I’ll never know but I’m guessing it won’t be long before the balance tips.
We took a tour of The Valley of Fire with Pink Jeep Tours at a cost of $134 per person.
Where is the Valley of Fire?
The Valley of Fire State Park is about 50 miles north-east of Las Vegas in the Mojave desert, Nevada.
Entrance Fees for Valley of Fire?
The current entrance fee to the Valley of Fire is $10.00 per car. Camping is an additional $20.00+ $10.00 for sites with utility hook ups on a first come first served basis.
The visitor centre is open 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM each day with exhibits on the area’s history, geology and wildlife.
How to get to the Valley of Fire from Las Vegas
From Las Vegas, take I-15 (NE) to SR-169 South (exit 93)
Valley of Fire Map
Click here for a PDF map showing the Valley of Fire highlights, hiking trails, parking, camping and picnic areas.
We visited at the end of April and it was HOT! Take a hat, plenty of water and sunscreen.
Suzanne Jones is creator, writer and photographer at The Travelbunny. When she’s not indulging her wanderlust you’ll most likely find her enjoying coastal walks in her home county of East Sussex, UK.
Suzanne co-writes Sussex Bloggers which showcases the best of East & West Sussex.