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Steve, Katherine, and Norah | profile | all galleries >> Utah - Nevada 2016 >> Valley of Fire tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Valley of Fire

As we worked our way back to Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park was the perfect last stop to finish up our trip. As itís only 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas it gets a lot of visitors and we were wondering how bad the crowds would be (especially for a holiday weekend). We arrived around noon and there was a line of cars to get in, but once in the park it didnít seem too bad. We had no problems with parking and the crowds thinned as the day wore on. It certainly helps to stay near the park to maximize time in the park at non-peak hours, but be sure to leave before dark as they are strict about visitors once the sun goes down. The campground there is first come, first served and as we suspected, we were not able to get a spot, but no worries as we were able to camp for free in a primitive site on BLM lands west of the park.

Valley of Fire is another park that is relatively small size wise, but packs a lot in. Most people only spend a few hours here and because of the compact size and accessibility of many of the features (either viewed directly from the road or requiring only a short walk), you can see quite a bit in a few hours. It is also a park that has a lot of nooks and crannies and arches to be found, so itís also easy to extend your visit and explore. On our first afternoon we focused on White Domes Road. We stopped for a look at Rainbow Vista and then parked at the end of Fire Canyon Road for a short hike up Silica Dome. This is where they filmed a scene in Star Trek: Generations and itís easy to see why; it certainly looks otherworldly. We continued to the end of White Domes Road to do the easy 1.25 mile White Domes Loop Trail. For such a short hike, it has nice variety of things to see (which makes it one of most popular spots in the park and one of the most likely places to encounter crowds), including a short but pretty slot canyon.

We planned to watch sunset from the other most popular site in the park: The Fire Wave. This was originally an unmarked spot in the backcountry, but it became so popular the park established an official trail with signs in 2012. The short trail is accessed from White Domes Road, across the road from parking lot #3. But before we would hike the 0.6 miles to The Fire Wave, we explored to the west of the parking lot to find some other arches and what has been dubbed ďCrazy HillĒ. Pretty cool spot, but not the best light for pictures late in the day, so we would return the next morning. Then we were off to the Fire Wave. At the first look I was surprised at how small it was - I guess I was expecting something larger (and I was not alone in this - I heard a few other people make the same comment). I was hoping for a great sunset, but the skies were clear and nature did not deliver. The red and white stripes and swirling rock were still pretty though and we had a nice evening here.

Thereís not a lot of amenities close to Valley of Fire and all the restaurants in Moapa Valley were closed, so we ended up eating Thanksgiving dinner at the Moapa Travel Plaza, about 20 minutes from Valley of Fire just off of I-15 (if you need fireworks, visit this place - they had a ton!). We parked our camper van at a primitive camping site on BLM lands west of the park and were up early the next morning to drive back into the park. We parked again at Parking Lot #3 on White Domes Road and revisited the arches and Crazy Hill west of the parking lot. Parking Lot #3 is where itís at because we had more cool spots to visit from here. We walked south on the road for 0.6 miles to Kaolin Wash. On the west side of the road we visited Nike Rock (or the more generic ďStriped RockĒ) and then entered Kaolin Wash on the east side. There is a short section called Pink Canyon that is beautiful and we continued this way to the Fire Wave. This section is full of a lot of great pink and yellow colors and was a pretty walk.

Before leaving we also made stops at Windstone Arch and Elephant Rock. Had a great time in this park!
Hidey hole on Silica Dome
Hidey hole on Silica Dome
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
White Domes trail
Arches by Crazy Hill
Arches by Crazy Hill
Crazy Hill
Crazy Hill
Crazy Hill
Crazy Hill
Crazy Hill
Crazy Hill
Fire Wave
Fire Wave
Fire Wave
Fire Wave
Fire Wave
Fire Wave
Fire Wave
Fire Wave
Fire Wave
Fire Wave
Fire Wave
Fire Wave
Sunrise at Crazy Hill
Sunrise at Crazy Hill
Sunrise at Crazy Hill
Sunrise at Crazy Hill
Crazy Hill
Crazy Hill
Norah finds another hiding spot
Norah finds another hiding spot
Crazy Hill arches
Crazy Hill arches
Crazy Hill arches
Crazy Hill arches
Nike Rock
Nike Rock
Steve at Nike Rock
Steve at Nike Rock
Just Do It!
Just Do It!
Pink Canyon
Pink Canyon
Fire Wave approach
Fire Wave approach
Fire Wave approach
Fire Wave approach
Colorful rocks
Colorful rocks
Fire Wave
Fire Wave
Windstone Arch
Windstone Arch
Windstone Arch
Windstone Arch
Elephant Rock
Elephant Rock