We have visited Valley of Fire State Park many times over the last few years. It continues to be one of my favorite parks, which is saying a lot because I’m not a huge fan of hot weather or the desert, although I do think the desert in the winter is spectacular.
The park is an hour’s drive from Las Vegas and we always try to come out whenever we go to Sin City. I used to go several times a year for work when I was at Dolby and Mr. Misadventures has gone often for industry conferences. We’ve also just come for a long weekend to visit the park specifically. It’s so accessible for anyone on the West Coast or anyone visiting Vegas.
Having the luxury of multiple trips we don’t have to do everything at once (although you could see every up close in 2-3 days). On this trip we focused on Fire Wave and the Pink Canyons behind it. The Fire Wave is like a miniature Wave or White Pocket, both beautiful locations that we’ve been lucky enough to visit multiple times.
Fire Wave is in the White Domes area of Valley of Fire which you access via the road above the visitor’s center. There is lots to see on this road including Mouse’s Tank, Rainbow Vista and White Domes, but to get to the Fire Wave find Parking #3, park and cross the street from the trail. The trail is an easy 1.25 miles round-trip.
But please don’t attempt it in the summer. It is the desert, temperatures exceed 100 degrees, there is NO shade and you are walking on rocks. (One time we tried it once in May and turned back halfway in.)
When we first started coming to Valley of Fire the trail wasn’t marked, but as it has gotten more popular, it is now full of signs to keep people from ruining the fragile rocks.
We went for sunset one evening but like a lot of winter sunsets we’ve experienced, it was pretty brief and we ended up just enjoying it with a few other photographers and tourists. We met the nicest people on this trip!
A few days later we returned for a sunrise shoot in the same spot. This time it was more to Mr. Misadventures’ liking. He prefers sunrises. And it is always nice to have such a beautiful place all to ourselves!
It had rained the previous day and the additional moisture in the sandstone brought out vibrant colors in the swirls.
After sunrise we headed out the backside of the wave into the wash towards the pink canyons. They aren’t quite slot canyons, but there are spots that are very narrow.
The hike is easy, but may take awhile because you will be stopping every two minutes to admire the colors, the rings, the curves. Mr. Misadventures had hiked through here before (this was my first time) and he assured me that they were so much better and brighter in the winter.
The elements of water and wind move smaller stones through the canyons making for interesting photos. I’m pretty sure other hikers and photographers are also partially responsible for their placement in some of the shelves!
The detail in the rocks is fascinating. Every where you turn there is a geological story to tell. Oh if these rocks could talk!
As the sun continued to rise above our heads part of the canyon began to be covered in shade. We turned around after a mile and caught the sun hitting the canyon on the opposite side as we made our way back to the Fire Wave and back to the car. Given it was still before 10:00 a.m. we still had the entire hike to ourselves! I’m telling you, it pays to be a morning person.
Valley of Fire State Park continues to surprise and delight. There are still parts we have yet to explore and I am so glad that it’s accessibility will ensure lots of future visits!
How about you? Have you visited Valley of Fire before? Is it on your radar for a future visit?