Nevada’s Parched Plains : Valley of Fire State Park
Valle de Fuego as they would say in Spanish is a state park about an hour outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. The drive to the park is easy peasy. From the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, you hop on I-15 headed north. About 40 minutes later you take the Valley of Fire highway near Crystal, NV. I did not do the loop route, but if you are entering the Valley of Fire this way then once you make your way through the park you can exit the other side and meet up with the 167-Northshore Rd and loop back around to Las Vegas. This route will take you down a very scenic drive, passing by Callville Bay and Echo Bay as well as meeting up with the Colorado river, and a short hop near the end will take you to the Hoover Dam. The next time I go I will be sure to do that route. My route was more simple and I only spent a few hours in the park. Here is what I saw.
The entrance to the park gives you an indicator of what you should expect to see. You are greeted with red jagged rocks etched throughout the landscape, gravel and sand is all the soil available for the sparse but hardy vegetation to take root in. A short drive past the sign at the entrance is the pay station. It is an honor system and you are supposed to drop your money in a lockbox. This is also where you pay your camping fees, yes you can both RV and tent camp, personally, I think it would be a tremendously fun to camp here. At the pay station, you can use the restrooms and begin a short hike if you would like to see elephant rock.
The Petrified Log
We made our first scenic stop at the first of two petrified logs in the park. The log is inside of a chain link fence as they do not want harvesters removing bits of the log. There is a small hill that you can climb to see some nice views of the jagged red rocks.
This is the first scenic stop we made. You can see the walking path that will take you to the top of the smaller crest where the petrified log sits. You can see the chain link fence in the above picture.
Here is what the now stone log looks like. It has muted colors of purples and blue.
At the top of the crest just above the log, you are greeted with a great panoramic opportunity. To see how I made this panoramic please see my youtube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrMmQMH5dQw
The next stop we made was a spot called The Cabins. They were built in the 1930’s as a shelter for passing travelers.
They blend it so well with their surroundings. The views from inside are quite impressive and it would have been wonderful to wake up to the sun cresting the distant peaks.
We had already been in the park for about an hour and although it wasn’t super hot, it was warm enough to start fatiguing us. We made our next stop at the Seven Sisters POI which has a beautiful picnic area. There is one main picnic area designed to accommodate many guests and then smaller sites scattered around the Seven Sisters. The rock formations here were a lot of fun exploring.
Other Images of the Park
We could not stay too long on this scenic drive because it was on the back end of a trip and we needed to get to the airport for a flight back home within the next couple of hours. But I managed to capture a few more shots before leaving the park.
The park has many points of interest that make me want to return whenever I am in Las Vegas again. White Domes, Beehives, Duck Rock, Mouse’s Tank are just some of the other places you should make it a point to drive through and see. The park is not very large and if you planned to spend half a day you could see all the places and do quite a few of the hikes. On my return visit, I hope to spend the night in a tent and really take my time exploring. Afterall exploring is what it is all about. The United States has topography galore, from the high deserts of the Mojave to the swampy Everglades in Florida you really owe it to yourself to experience as much as you can. Not all of our parks can be as prestigious and as majestic as Yosemite, Denali and Yellowstone but the scorched sand of The Valley of Fire shines bright in its brilliant shades of red and orange stained earth.