Whether you are traveling from Utah or Arizona to Nevada, or you’re just sick of gambling in Vegas, you should put a trip to Valley of Fire on your “to do” list. I have done both – I’ve seen all major national parks in this area, and I have traveled to Vegas 5 years in a row due to an exhibition (comes with my job), and I can tell you that visiting Valley of Fire is something you will not regret. Even though the photos might seem similar to the ones from Red Rock Canyon (another good option for escaping Vegas), Arches or even Zion national park, trust me, Valley of Fire has its own charm and soul. In this post you will read why you should take a day trip to Valley of Fire, how much time you need to see the park and get some insider tips that might help you make the most of your visit.
LOCATION: 1 Hour From Las Vegas
First reason why you should visit the Valley of Fire is its convenient location – the park lies just 50 miles northeast or about 1-hour drive from Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert. And let’s be honest, if you are not totally addicted to gambling and have a day or two to spend in the City of Sin, you definitely need an escape plan at least for a day (after you have done all the shopping, of course).
FOR NATURE LOVERS: BEAUTIFUL COLORS
The Valley of Fire is Nevada’s oldest state park filled with red rock formations that look as if they were of fire. The red comes from the Aztec sandstone that “glows” in the sun. But red is not the only color in the park and it is the diversity that makes the scenery even more attractive. The park is filled with panoramic vistas, petrified trees, petroglyphs, funny shaped rocks and lots of short and modest hiking trails which make the Valley of Fire an attractive option even for families with small children.
FOR MOVIE FREAKS
You don’t necessarily need to be nature lover to enjoy the Valley of fire. If you are more of a Hollywood enthusiast, you will probably recognize Valley of Fire as a scenery for several movies, such as Star Trek Generations, Total Recall and of course Viva Las Vegas. Fancy buying a costume and strike some awesome Instagram pose 😉?
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU NEED TO VISIT THE VALLEY OF FIRE?
The park comprises of 46,000 acres and has two relatively short roads shaped in Y, which makes is perfect for a one-day trip. The drive through the park itself takes around 30 minutes (without stops), but you didn’t come all the way down here for driving, right? If you are like me, you will probably take a short hike or two and wait for your moment to catch an empty road and take that instafamous shot. Stopping at scenic overlooks and visitor’s center, hiking one short trail and patiently posing for photos will take around 2 to 3 hours. Add 1-hour drive back and forth, stop for lunch, and you are good for a day (especially in the winter when the daylight only lasts until 4.30 pm).
We visited Valley of Fire on our way from Utah to Las Vegas, which means we have seen a share of parks (and hikes) in between. And even though our plan was to stay longer, we were somehow tired of too much beauty, so we only took the Fire Wave hike. Plus, it was quite hot, despite mid of October (around 28 Celsius). Unfortunately, we missed the famous Wave in Arizona so this one sounded like a perfect opportunity – and it didn’t disappoint. It is a really modest 1,5 mile (20-30 minutes) hike; however, it can get really hot because there is absolutely no shade on the trail. The area is fantastic, it really looks like a wave of rocks with layers of red and white stone, so you can easily spend 30 minutes there just for taking photos. The trail starts across the road from Parking Lot 3.
But otherwise I wouldn’t worry too much about planning your trip – I’d say just go with the flow. As I said, the park isn’t too big so you’ll have time to se most of the spots, even the views from your car will be impressive. I also recommend you to stop at visitor center, where you will get a very informative map and decide on the spot what you want to see. So, it is really up to you how much time you are wiling to spend for the trip to Valley of Fire.
SOME PRACTICAL TIPS
- Entrance fee: 10 USD per car – keep in mind that this is a state park and not national park, which means you cannot use America The Beautiful pass, if you have one.
- Toilets and water: plenty of toilets at visitor center and a few en route, water station in visitor center only. No shops there, so pack up your snacks or maybe even bring a lunch basket.
- The heat: I kid you not, Valley of Fire is a part of a desert, so it can get really hot during Summer. Wear light clothes, sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat, even during Spring and Autumn.
- Hours: The park is open from sunrise to sunset and it is not allowed to enter/exit before and after-hours.
- Distances: Main (Valley of Fire) road: 10.5 miles, White Domes road (right from visitor center): 5.5 miles.
- Hiking trails: Mouse’s Tank (3/4 mile), Rainbow Vista (1 mile), Fire Wave (1.5 miles), White Domes (1.25 miles)
- Photos: Check out the rest of my photos in my Facebook album.
I was really fascinated by the park and I almost regret we didn’t stay longer. So, I just might return next year 😉 Have you visited the Valley of Fire? Did you like it? Scroll down and comment!