Valley of Fire State Park Day Trip
During our epic USA road trip, we couldn’t resist spending a full day at the Valley of Fire State Park, around an hour drive away from Las Vegas.
40,000 acres of bright red sculpted Aztec sandstone, together with petroglyphs and petrified logs dating back thousands of years make up the Valley of Fire State Park.
Thousands of visitors venture to the Valley of Fire for the dramatic scenery and one of a kind hiking trails. The park has been featured in many movies, including sci-fi such as Total Recall, Transformers, and Star Trek (Captain Kirk died here)
Open year round, the Valley of Fire State Park has numerous campsites equipped with shaded tables, grills (weather permitted), and running water.
Temperatures in the Valley of Fire reach over 115 degrees in summer, hiking is discouraged during this time so go well prepared between April and October. There are few shaded areas beside the park features.
The Beehives are one of the park’s most famous point of interest and not only do the sandstone formations show the crafed artistry of nature, they also offer evidence of geological cross bedding.
The layers that form the ‘beehives’ represent different layers of silt that were deposited over the course of hundred of years.
Geological cross bedding s common in desert areas and the angle of the layers is dependent on the wind and/or water that crafted them individually.
There are 3 campgrounds by the Beehives that can each accommodate up to 50 people along with Restrooms and Picnic Shelter.
Tread carefully around the beehives and enjoy the incredible surounding views.
The Beehives are located by the west entrance of the park and there is plenty of parking spots for visitors.
Valley of Fire State Park Visitor’s Center
The Visitor Center is a great place to start a day trip to the Valley of Fire, the center hosts exhibits on the geology, ecology, prehistory, and history of the park. See figurines on how life used to be in the park as well as red rocks and animal replicas.
Learn all about the Valley of Fire State Park’s attractions such as the Rock of Gibraltar and the famous Beehives with park maps and information boards throughout the Visitor’s Center.
Competitors can partake in the Valley of Fire’s Annual Atlatl Competition where skills are tested with replicas of ancient spears. Ask the Park Rangers for more information or visit the official website.
The Arch Rock
The Arch Rock in the Valley of Fire State Park has been crafted over many millennia by the combination of rain and strong wind that weakened the rock over time. The collapse of the weakest part of the rock formd a natural arch that we can see today. The gap in the center of the Arch Rock will eventually become too large and the rock will collapse so enjoy it while you can.
There is a 2-mile scenic loop trail at the Arch Rock that offers views of even more naturally carved wonders such as the Piano Rock.
An atlatl (at’-lat-l) is a device used for launching a spear, imagine like a catapult structure. Way back in ancient Indian times, a cord would be wrapped around a spear so that when the weapon was thrown into the air, it would rotate. The evidence of this is depicted in the petroglyphs (rock carvings) located at the Valley of Fire’s Atlatl Rock.
The Valley of Fire State Park officials built a viewing platform so visitors can take a closer look at the petroglyphs.
The Atlatl Rock is a great place to stop off for a rest during your Valley of Fire day trip, they have BBQ facilities and restrooms here, be sure to check if there are any fire restritcions before lighting.
Right by the East Entrance sits the elephant shaped rock that attracts many keen camera-wielding tourists. The elephant rock is right by the road but parking is limited along this stretch of the highway.
The closest and most practical car park takes visitors around 1/3 mile of a mile away. Enjoy the large, trunk-like arch that could also be interpreted to be an anteater or even a vacuum cleaner.closer look at the petroglyphs.
Rock of Gibraltar
Though the Valley of Fire’s Rock of Gibraltar doesn’t quite resemble the real deal, the feature is still a prominent formation and is popular with visitors. The Rock is comprised of red sandstone and stands out on the backdrop of the White Domes.
The peak of the Rock of Gibraltar is a major attraction for photographers because of the way it picks up the sunset. A few scramblers embark on the rock, however, the climb is very technical and is mostly discouraged for the inexperienced.
The Seven Sisters at the Valley of Fire State Park is a group of 7 prominent boulders that are easily spotted in the East of the park.
The red rock tower sisters are all that remain after relentless batterings from the elements stripped away the surrounding sandstone deposits.
The towers have numerous ‘blow holes’ and Park Ranger predict the eventual destruction of the seven sisters will take place in a few hundred years.
The White Domes Trail
The White Domes Trail is a moderate 1.1-mile hiking trail through a variety of sandstone formations, canyons, and an old film set.
The White Domes Trail takes hikers on a loop offering views of desert vistas, a slot canyon, windows, and caves as well as the filming location for the 1966 Western movie The Professionals.
The 1960s film starred Hollywood legends, Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale and the production of the movie was also the reason why the road was constructed that now offers access to this remarkable area.
The remains of the film set include a small portion of the wall of the hacienda.
The famous ‘Fire Wave’ one-mile hike is accessible in the White Domes area of the Valley of Fire State Park, which is a site not to be missed.
The Valley of Fire’s ‘Mouse’s Tank’ is a red rock basin where water collects after each rainfall. Hikers can embark on the half-mile round trip trail right to the Mouse’s Tank from the trailhead parking area.
The Mouse’s Tank trail makes up part of the Petroglyphs trail where a good set of petroglyphs can be seen. Mouse’s Tank is named after the Southern Paiute Indian renegade (translating to ‘Little Mouse’) who allegedly used the Valley of Fire as a hideout in the 1890’s after being accused of killing two prospectors.
Petroglyphs Canyon Trail
The Petroglyph Canyon trail in the Valley of Fire State Park is accessed via the Mouse’s Tank Trail and it is a 0.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail that is accessible for all skill levels.
Hikers embark on the trail for hiking, walking and wildlife spotting, a good time to see birds is from September to May.
The Petroglyph Canyon is the most accessible way for visitors to view the historical petroglyphs. The walk is short and easy and it takes vistorrs into the the sandy bottom of a narrow canyon. Park Ranmgers ask visitors not to touch the petroglyphs as they are easily damaged.
The Cabins are red rock structures in the Valley of Fire State Park that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.
The historical stone buildings were constructed with native sandstone as a shelter for passing travelers. The Cabins are a well-visited feature in the park and they are a popular location for weddings.
The Muddy Mountains are a mountain range that runs right by the Valley Of Fire and can be seen for miles in Clark County, Nevada.
Most of the walkable areas of the Muddy Mountains are accessible from state and country roads. The access roads provided are located by the BLM’s Bitter Springs Back country Byway as well as the North Shore Drive in the Lake Mead National Recreational Area.
Take a moment to stand by the Muddy Mountains and admire the clay style colors and the bold mountain peaks that give the range the apt name.
Anasazi Indians dominated this part of Nevada from around 1 A.D. to 1150 A.D and the Paiute Indians are likely descendants.
Spring is the best time of year to see flora, the blossoming collection includes desert mallow, desert marigold, and a spreading of prickly pear cactus. If you’re lucky, you may get to see the desert bighorn sheep who wander the cliffs.
Rainbow Vista is a viewpoint in the Valley of Fire State Park, where the road reaches the top of a low ridge exposing a vast area of multicolored rocks that continue for many miles northwards.
Different colored canyons, domes, towers, ridges, and valleys make up the Rainbow Vista and it took millions of years to form the scene that has been admired for many years, once by dinosaurs.
Take a day trip to the Valley of Fire from Las Vegas to admire natural beauty, unique geology and the filming location of classic Hollywood movies and TV shows.
Save up to 40% off tours and activities in Las Vegas
Entrance to the park is only $10 and drivng is easy via the Lake Mead Recreational area, stop by the Hoover Dam on your way too, it makes an epic road trip from Las Vegas!