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Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada

A few weeks ago I met Mr. Misadventures in Las Vegas. He had been at a conference on the strip all week and by the time I arrived, he was anxious to get out of town! We got up very early to drive the hour to the Valley of Fire State Park, the oldest state park in Nevada.

Valley of Fire State Park

When we reached Highway 40/Highway 169, the road that we took into the park, it was deserted, seriously, we parked the car and walked out in the middle of the road with not a car in sight. It was a great opportunity to take pictures like this:

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on the road to Valley of Fire State Park

And, just in case we hadn't figured it out, this was going to be a scenic trip!

road to Valley of Fire State Park

When we got into the park (there is an entrance fee) we ran into one other couple visiting from Japan. They had as much camera equipment as us and it was funny to see that we were stopping at all the same places! That lasted about 20-30 minutes, after which they made a different turn-off than us and we literally didn't see a soul for the next four hours. I have never had a state park all to myself, it is kind of a cool experience, I guess we were the only ones crazy enough to be out in 107-degree weather!

I have to say that I did not take as many pictures as I should have. I don't like the heat so I started “prioritizing” my trips outside of the car! Instead, I practiced a lot of side-view mirror shots à la Kristin of Camels & Chocolate! It sure was fun and you can see the different kinds of colors in the rock as we drove through:

Valley of Fire State Park out my mirror
Valley of Fire State Park out my mirror
Valley of Fire State Park out my mirror

As we had the place to ourselves, we took our time and visited all the major sites including the Beehives. These are indicative of the entire park formulated by wind and sand, rain, heat and cold:

Valley of Fire State Park Beehives

Not intended as a coincidence, but there are tons of bees all over the park. They are a strain of killer African bees and there are warnings everywhere about not swatting them or providing them a water source (so if you are allergic to bees, not a good place for you to visit!). We also saw rabbits, eagles, hawks and pheasants (or they could have been quail) that made a huge amount of noise when you approached them – totally bitching – it was hilarious! In addition, we saw tons of a sort-of chipmunk like animal, but really tiny, and fun to watch as they scurried around.

When Mr. Misadventures and I go on little road trips like this, we always pack a picnic. We stopped for lunch and proceeded to make a tomato and avocado salad with a little bit of smoked salmon and peaches for dessert. Since there were a lot of bees and flies, Mr. Misadventures always cuts off the tops of the tomatoes and discard them on the ground so the insects will gather there as opposed to bothering us (they do this in Switzerland and in France in the apple and pear orchards, they place a rose bush at the front of each row to attract the insects there). As soon as he threw the tomatoes on the ground, we had little visitors!

Valley of Fire State Park Chipmunks

It was hilarious. And unlike us fruity Californians, they didn't like the avocado!

Continuing through the park, we stopped at the Rainbow Vista, a place where you can see 150 million years of rocks in the making. It is called rainbow because of all the different shades of colors representing the different ages of time and it is beautiful. The blue of the sky just amazes me!

Valley of Fire State Park Rainbow Vista

We then checked out Fire Canyon where the wind and sand have eroded the tops of the rocks creating jagged edges:

Valley of Fire State Park Fire Canyon

I'll stop boring you with photos of rocks. It is a beautiful park and apparently deserted (even on a holiday weekend) when it's hot, so that may be a good time to go undisturbed. We'd like to go back in the autumn though, as I am sure the colors are even more amazing.

It was also interesting to read afterward that it has been a filming location for some great sci-fi flicks like Total Recall, Star Trek and Transformers. In addition, they host a marathon through the park every year in November (I hope it is a whole lot cooler!), I'm not crazy enough to do that, but I would definitely go back again and recommend it as something to do while visiting Las Vegas.

How about you? Has anyone been to this park before?  Are you a fan of the desert in general?

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  1. I was raised in New Mexico and Arizona and have never found the desert beautiful. I much prefer the ocean. I have an uncle that was called Red Rock as a nick name because he loved an area in New Mexico called that so much.

    1. @Linda, it is definitely NOT my favorite place to be, I am playing the role of supportive wife. I would rather be in the mountains or forest in cool, rainy weather!

  2. Kristina Sullins says:

    I really like the mirror shots. I think the desert is beautiful!