Discover USA: State Parks – Valley of Fire, NV

A day trip to one of the best places I’ve laid my eyes on.

On my way home to Denver, CO from Anaheim, CA I decided to stretch my legs and Gary‘s paws and get in some exercises before another long drive home. After four hours of driving, I wanted to give this place a try since the reviews were phenomenal and pictures alike.

January, being a winter month, I didn’t have the whole day to myself, since the sun is coming down faster than in the regular summer days, so I had to make it count.

I pulled out the AllTrails app (I have the pro version which allows you to download the maps and view them offline), and took a look at what this park has to offer.  Amazing hikes, stargazing, camping, and historic values that travel you through time.

Why is this place a historical point of interest?

On the Wiki page, I found that this amazing place was inhabited for at least 4000 years. Prehistoric dwellers included the Basketmaker culture, followed by the Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi). They farmed the nearby Moapa Valley from 300 BC to 1150 AD.

Their approximate span of occupation has been dated from 300 BC to 1150 AD. Their visits probably involved huntingfood gathering, and religious ceremonies, although scarcity of water would have limited their stay.

There are few hiking trails that offer you the possibility to see and be around the Anasazi’s traces, history, ancient knowledge, and art depicted so beautifully with their petroglyphs. On this trip I didn’t have the time and neither the weather to see these trails.

The creation of Valley of Fire State Park began with the transfer of 8,760 acres (3,550 ha) of federal land to the state of Nevada in 1931. Work on the park was initiated by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933. During the years of their employment, which continued into the early 1940s, the CCC workers built campgrounds, trails, stone visitor cabins, ramadas, and roads. The park opened in 1934; it achieved official designation by the state legislature in 1935.

Fun things to do

Hiking

The weather wasn’t so friendly, it started raining and the chances of flash floods were really high, so I had to bail from one of the hikes. Trust me, you do not want to be caught in those slots canyons and washouts during a storm!

My first trail was the “White Domes Trail, which covers beautiful canyons and ruins within a 1.1mi distance.

The ruins are the remains of a film set from “The Professionals” (1966).

After the first hike, we still had time to do some more, so we attempted the magical “Fire Wave, White Domes and Seven Wonders Loop“, which is a 3.2 mi long trail.

The start can be a little bit misleading, so make sure you have the AllTrail map downloaded for proper guidance. Keep in mind that the signal is spotty to non-existing in the slot canyons, and it is very easy to get lost, so be prepared!

We started with the Fire Wave side of the loop, it had fewer people and for me, that is ideal, because it gives me the chance to enjoy the bliss of nature and its quietness.

Going deeper into the canyons, the sky started to look unfriendly and I was worried that the rain is going to start, so we started hiking faster and we finally made it to the road that connects both loops. And oh boy, it started pouring. Thank God, we weren’t on the trails, it would have been terrifying.

Rain didn’t last long and Mother Nature offered us first row free tickets to her magnifcient spectacle. What a bliss!

Apparently, the rain doesn’t last for long in the desert, so after a couple of minutes, the sun came out and indulged my eyes with one of the most stunning sunsets I’ve witnessed.

After I’ve got to the parking lot, I did a small hike and enjoyed the sunset, topped out by a double rainbow, with my sweet Garylicious.

Scenic Driving

The Mouse’s Tank Road is simply iconic, feels like you are driving on Mars. It is located in the heart of the park and connects to several trails, including the famous Mouse Tank one which leads you to the ancient petroglyphs I have mentioned above.

Camping

Since I have been on the run, I didn’t have the chance to enjoy this stunning place during the night, but here is some info i found that can be useful in the future,

  • All campsites are first-come, first-serve. There are two campgrounds with a combined total of 72 units. Campsites are equipped with shaded tables, grills, water, and restrooms. A dump station and showers are available.
  • RV sites with power and water hookups are now available. A $10 surcharge is added to the regular camping fee for the use of these sites.
  • There are three group areas, each accommodating up to 45 people, though parking is limited. They are available for overnight camping and picnicking by reservation only. For information call Valley of Fire State Park at 702-397-2088.  Advance reservations are required.

How to get there: The GPS coordinates for all of these points are: 36.5073° N, 114.5352° W

Entrance fees:

  • Entrance $10/vehicle ($8/vehicle Nevada resident) at fee station or self-pay booth
  • Camping $20/night plus $10/night for utility hook-ups ($2/night discount Nevada resident)
  • Annual Entrance Permit $75
  • Group Use Area Reservation $25 plus the entrance fee per vehicle
  • Group Camping Reservation $25 plus camping fee per vehicle
  • Wedding Reservation Fees paid by wedding company on your behalf.
  • Dogs and people both enjoy the park all year round. But please keep pets on leashes and pick up after them.

Weather:

  • The weather at Valley of Fire is typical for Nevada— extremely hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Check current conditions here.

Gear-up:

  • Because the overall terrain is strenuous and quite technical, I highly recommend you to use hiking boots or approach shoes, you have to do some scrambling in many of the trails.
  • BRING TONS OF WATER, I usually carry camelback or Nalgene bottles and food; IT IS A DESERT and in the warmer/summer months heatstroke is no joke (during the  hot months I wouldn’t bring any dogs with me)
  • And as a photographer, I took my Canon EOS Mk 2 with the Canon 24-105 mm USM IS2 f4.0 lenses
Photo: Diana C.
Photo edits: Diana C.
Text: Diana C.

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