If eye-catching sights and historical places are your things, what can be better than visiting the Valley of Fire in Las Vegas, Right? So, let’s dig into it!
I’ve said it before, yet I’ll gladly repeat it. North America has done a better job of naming its tourist spots better than anybody else. To drive the point home, let’s address the focal point of this piece of writing: The Valley of Fire.
America, you’ve done it again. The Valley of Fire is one of the coolest names for a tourist spot that I have ever come across. And the place has enough eye-catching sights and historical significance to back up the title.
Located about 50 miles from the grand city of Las Vegas, the valley derives its name from the gorgeous red colour of the sandstone in the region. The Valley of Fire State Park can be visited for a charge of $10 per vehicle and offers visitors the opportunity to camp overnight. The cost of an overnight stay at the valley is about $20. Many people like to watch the stars during the winter at night, and it truly does make for beautiful scenery that makes people fall in love with the feeling of being alive.
Now, a lot of people like to do their research before visiting places, and if you’re someone who wants to be the designated tour guide in the group, then this is precisely what you’re looking for! Even if you’re not so keen on research, you’ll still want to go over these facts about the scenic masterpiece of the Valley of Fire, which very few are aware of.
1. Origins of the Valley of Fire State Park
Although the State Park, as it is known today, was established in 1935, the geological origins of the Valley date back as long as 150 million years in the past, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth! The Red Desert is an exhibition of brilliant displays of sandstones and heaps of dunes formed by excessive faulting, erosion, and uplifting of the region. It resulted in a plateau-like formation and not just an ordinary desert-like landscape. The elevation of the plateaus ranges between 402 to 917 meters above sea level.
Interestingly, if you find yourself at the valley during the dawn, the sunlight reflecting on the sandstone causes the entire place to look like it is on fire. The excess of iron oxide present in the sandstone deposits is one of the main reasons for the distinctive red colour of the valley.
2. It’s a Mini Mars on Earth (And a filming location)
In the Total movie Recall, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, the scenes that showed the planet’s surface were almost exclusively shot in the Valley of Fire in Nevada. It did an excellent job of making up for the lack of flying cars to the red planet back in the old days.
But that’s not the only relation that the valley has with outer space. Scenes from Star Trek Generations, shown to be the planet Veridian III, were shot in the valley in 1994.
The Valley of Fire has also been a set location for other well-known movies like Transformers and The Professionals.
3. The Mormon Trail
Let’s go back a little further in time from when space cars were non-existent to when interstate transport was a dream about as early as when native Spaniards were around in the Americas. They began hunting for safe trade routes from the tip of the Grand Canyon and Santa Fe through to the region known today as New Mexico and into California.
Interestingly, the main trading routes established did not go through the valley at the time. However, there is proof that some traders did divert and take a journey through the valley. The Mormon Trail was later discovered by the Church of Latter-Day Saints (who were known as Mormons. That’s where the name comes from). The Mormon Trail was famous for heading toward California through Las Vegas, Nevada.
4. We’re Time Travelling … Again!
Let’s dial it back a little more. I’m talking again about when English was a dream. To be a bit more accurate, back when history was a dream. Many brilliant examples of ‘petroglyphs‘ or rock art have been found in the walls of the valley and the caves. Historians have deemed the valley settlers to be the Anasazi or the Ancestral Puebloans. The numerical timeframe of their settlement should be around 300 BC to 1150 AD.
History also teaches us that the settlers were predominantly farming the extremely fertile Moapa Valley close to the Valley of Fire. Their culture and traditions included basket-making mainly. They usually visited the valley for hunting and food gathering and specific religious or devotional practices that cannot be explained in detail in the common tongue.
Suppose you’re an art enthusiast and are curious about the origins of your craft. In that case, you’d be taking a step in the right direction by visiting the Mouse’s Tank and the Atlatl Rock, two famous sites that offer displays of the petroglyphs all year round to the common folk.
It is assumed that the ancient settlers ended their stay and connections to the valley due to an eventual scarcity of water, threatening the sustainability of any civilization. This is because a perennial water source is crucial to the survival and sustenance of any culture.
5. Wildlife Found at the Valley
The Valley of Fire falls en route to most destinations for migratory birds. Aside from being a route for birds to travel through, it also acts as a natural habitat for birds like the raven, the southwestern roadrunner, the sage sparrow, and the house finch.
Since the valley is predominantly a desert-like area, the temperatures go extremely high during the day. This also means that the state park is home to many animals found in desert areas, like snakes, lizards, foxes, skunks, and coyotes. Most of the species mentioned above are nocturnal. The animals usually come out at night when the temperature is lower in search of food.
If you’re lucky, you might as well come around a desert tortoise, which is extremely hard to come by.
We usually don’t think of vegetation when we hear ‘desert’ associated with a place. And though the valley is by no means close in the amount of vegetation to a forest-like setting, it certainly isn’t void of plant life either.
A variety of cacti and bushes are found in the region, including the Beavertail and the Cholla cacti. The forest species include the Brittlebush, the Burro Bush, and the Creosote Bush.
Many florae can be found around the roads near the Valley of Fire during spring.
The law protects all the animals and the floral life found in the region. It is immoral and, most undoubtedly, illegal to tamper or harm them in any manner.
6. The Arrowhead Trail and the Cabins
When the dream of engines and automated transmission was realized, roads that the rain would not wreck and the snow slowly became necessary. The Arrowhead Trail was the first all-weather highway to be constructed. Its construction was overseen by the Arrowhead Trail Highway Association, which mainly included the residents of Las Vegas.
The Arrowhead Trail connects Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. Although it was built before all the highways in the United States followed a numbered system introduced back in 1926, it is now known as US Route 91 and is the Interstate Highway 15. The Arrow Highway name is still used by some people who reside in the area.
In 1934, the Civilian Conservation Corps or CCC built three cabins near the Valley of Fire area. The cottages have been preserved to this day, and visitors can go and see the 80-year-old cabins, which also have a built-in fireplace and a great view of the vast red landscape.
The State Park is also a famous picnic spot. It has designated picnic spots within the valley with shaded areas, restrooms, trash cans, and other amenities to offer the visitors a great experience.
7. The Numbers Game
Valley of Fire State Park is the largest one in Nevada. The area marked under the state park is a whopping 36,000 acres.
The Grand Canyon is a similar tourist spot compared to the Valley of fire, but the number of visitors who visit it is about 3 million per year. In comparison, the valley draws anywhere around 250 thousand to 500 thousand people. Hence, it is a lot less crowded than the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon National Park is a vast, picturesque location in northern Arizona in the United States southwest. The park was established in 1919. Its boundaries were considerably expanded in 1975 with the acquisition of the former Grand Canyon and Marble Canyon national monuments and sections of Glen Canyon-National Recreation Area and other nearby properties. It has a total land area of 1,902 square miles (4,927 square km).
Valley of Fire State Park is known as the oldest state park in Nevada and it’s most significant. It was established in 1935 and is 85 years old as of 2020.
Since 2005, the Annual Valley of Fire Marathon has been held every November. The variations of the marathon include a 5K and a 10K run.
Water supplies are limited in the valley. However, a well was built about 1500 feet underground. Along with the well, power lines also run about 940 feet beneath the ground.
8. The Valley of Fire State Park Visitor Center
The Valley of Fire State Park Visitor Center is most probably where you would be starting your expedition of the red landscape. It was built at the end of the ’60s and was later revamped in the ’80s to match the backdrop of the red-rocks.
It is open from 8:30 in the morning to 4:30 in the evening. It offers visitors facilities like drinking water, restrooms, first aid, and parking spaces.
Everything you need to know about the valley can be found at this centre. The place is more than just a welcoming station. It offers information, books, souvenirs, and various exhibits on the geology and the history of the Valley of Fire and its surrounding areas. There are also plans set for another expansion of the visitor centre.
9. The Lesser-Known Things to Do
Atlatl Rock, Mouse’s Trap, Arch Rock, and Elephant Rock (shaped like an elephant, as the name suggests) are all immensely popular points of interest in the Valley of Fire. Some other lesser-known points of interest are:-
- The Beehives: The underside of an inevitable cliff is shaped like a giant beehive. This is a beautiful example of nature’s handiwork craving sandstone to look like art.
- Petrified Logs: These are remnants of wood as old as 225 million years. This wood has now decomposed into fossils and is visible as colourful branches along the roads, safely fenced off so that nobody can tamper with them.
- Rainbow Vista: It is better known as one of the best spots in the valley to click a photo. As the name should suggest, the view from Rainbow Vista shows rocks of many colours, different from the natural red. This is also a slightly off-beat but beautiful wedding ceremony site.
- Seven Sisters: The Seven Sisters are a group of seven tall and large boulders that have stood the test of time and offer a nexus of sorts amidst the endless desert. This is also an excellent wedding site and a picnic spot for families and groups of people.
- Clark Memorial: A private of Company F of the New York Infantry who served extensively in the Civil War, John J. Clark was eventually discharged honourably in 1863. His heroics in Company F (catching the dreaded typhoid fever after being shot in hand) got him promoted to sergeant. He eventually migrated to South California and passed through the Valley of Fire when he was found dead under the buckboard he was travelling, presumably of thirst. A white cross was later inaugurated in his memory to pay respect to him.
- Lake Mead National Recreation Area: Nevada’s oldest state park has magnificent and colourful sandstone formations and is easily accessible by car. Valley of Fire State Park is located north of it and south of I-15. The National Sports Area, located behind Hoover Dam, concentrates on a range of water recreation. There are also beautiful scenic roads, viewing sites, and picnic spots.
10. Scenic Drive
This road trip includes the main roadway (NV 169) through Valley of Fire State Park runs through some stunning eroded rocky landscape, but the six-mile White Domes Road, also known as Mouse’s Tank Road, branches north of the visitor centre, is even better.
There are several short trails, narrow canyons, petroglyph canyon, desert viewpoints, and, in particular, more colourful rocks along this paved drive, demonstrating that not all of the landscape in the park is red; the land towards the end of the road is covered by large areas of Slickrock in a wide range of bright colours, primarily yellow, white, orange, grey, and pink.
Most of these points of interest can be visited in one day and include parking spots and restrooms so that travellers do not face a lot of inconveniences. It is recommended that you take an ample amount of drinking water with you should you visit the Valley of Fire since the temperature soars during the day, and water supplies are not that reliable since the only time it rains is during the monsoon, and only once during that time.
Best Trails in Valley of Fire State Park
White Domes Trail
It winds through breathtaking scenery that changes at every turn. The vistas are varied and magnificent on this 1.1-mile circle with a 150-foot elevation difference. The route takes you by sandstone rocks of all forms and colours. The route also takes hikers to an ancient film location and passes across a small canyon. The scenery is varied, and the climb is exciting, making it one of the greatest spots to take in Valley of Fire State Park’s breathtaking grandeur.
Set off from a trailhead at the end of the drive, the park’s most picturesque road. The White Domes Day Use Area features picnic tables, restrooms, and a kiosk that describes the area’s history and geology.
Mouse’s Tank is a natural depression in the rock where rainwater accumulates. A half-mile round trip route leads to Mouse’s Tank from the trailhead parking area. The route contains several instances of ancient petroglyphs. Mouse’s Tank is named after a Southern Paiute Indian renegade known as “Little Mouse,” who utilized Valley of Fire as a hideaway in the 1890s after being suspected of murdering two prospectors and other crimes in the region. He was suspected of murdering two prospectors, among other things.
Mouse’s Tank Road is a beautiful drive in northeastern Clark County, in the centre of Valley of Fire State Park, the oldest state area in Nevada, USA. It is one of the most beautiful and spectacular drives and photographed sites in the park, with small valleys, breathtaking vistas, multicoloured rocks, and petroglyphs.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of exploring is discovering hidden treasures. Pastel Canyon Hike, also known as Pink Canyon, is one of Valley of Fire State Park’s fabulous hidden jewels. As you stroll between the walls of the stunning natural display of the pastel-pink sandstone canyon, this location appears almost surreal.
Surprisingly, the Pastel Canyon Hike is not a designated path. This implies no signage, and it is not listed in any maps or brochures. As a result, this location is a haven for people seeking serenity away from the masses.
Fire Wave Trail
Stripes aren’t something you see very frequently in nature (unless you live near a herd of zebras), and the stripes at Fire Wave are particularly striking. In this isolated region of Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park, the Slickrock contains interchanging streaks of beige and red-orange tinted sandstone.
Fire Wave features a bowl-shaped depression with a few rising peaks covered with wavy lines. You may believe the stripes were painted if you couldn’t stroll directly across Fire Wave. See the enchantment for yourself on the 1.5-mile round-trip Fire Wave Trail, which has a 175-foot elevation change.
Rainbow Vista Trail
The trek is a great family-friendly climb with stunning vistas. The conventional loop travels to a viewpoint of Fire Canyon, then turns around to take in another view of Fire Canyon before returning to the trailhead across an open area. The beautiful hues of the granite observed along the walk inspired the hike’s name. It’s a well-known track for a reason!
It is a fantastic experience that combines trail trekking with mild yet exciting rock climbing on an outstanding surface. Silica, the main component of sand, is the source of the name. The dome is made of rock-solid silica that is incredibly pure and practically white. You don’t want to breathe in silica dust since it is a lung carcinogen that can induce silicosis.
Valley Of Fire Camping
Two campgrounds have a total of 72 units. Shaded tables, grills, water, and bathrooms are provided at each campsite. There is a disposal station as well as showers. All campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. A 14-day camping limit of 30 days is enforced.
Valley of Fire Temperature
Highest Temp: 22 °C
Lowest Temp: 9 °C
Mean Temp: 16 °C
Red Rock Canyon vs. Valley of Fire
The Valley of Fire State Park and Red Rock Canyon are located outside Las Vegas, Nevada. Both are lovely places to explore the local red sandstone. If you’re trying to decide whether to visit Valley of Fire or Red Rock Canyon, we’re here to explain the distinctions and what to anticipate from both.
Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon are not the same thing in Las Vegas. The two parks are around an hour apart. Valley of Fire is around 60 minutes northeast of downtown Las Vegas, and Red-Rock-Canyon is approximately 25 minutes west of downtown Las Vegas.
Although it isn’t as secluded as the Valley of Fire, Red-Rock-Canyon State Park is lovely. It has a 13-mile scenic circle that can only be accessed one way. There are several spots throughout the circle to enjoy stunning views and hiking. You will be treated to breathtaking scenery, hikes, flora, wildlife, and geological wonders throughout the trip.
Suppose you don’t want to spend a whole day out of your Las Vegas schedule. In that case, Red-Rock Canyon in Las Vegas is a close choice that will give you the experience of red rocks hiking, snapping photographs, and experiencing the magnificent Nevada desert. The walks are longer and more demanding.
The Valley of Fire boasts a broader diversity of views with brilliant hues. You’ll find more formations on the White-Domes Trail, including arches, petroglyphs, and a slot canyon. There’s also a possibility you’ll see the bighorn sheep that reside in this park.
Valley of Fire usually is less congested because it is located further away from downtown Las Vegas. We recommend spending the entire day in Valley of Fire if you visit. You may also easily combine the journey with a drive along Lake Mead’s Shoreline Road and a visit to the Hoover Dam.
A few more famous Canyons and valleys are Antelope Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Death Valley, etc.
Is Valley of Fire open during Coronavirus?
Yes, it is open.
If you’re looking to migrate to America to experience more beautiful locations like visiting the Valley of Fire, this guide should help you get started.