Valley of Fire State Park – Fire Wave and Pink Canyons

fire wave area of valley of fire state park
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

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.

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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.

Parking 3 for Fire Wave at Valley of Fire State Park
Parking 3 for Fire Wave

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.

Fire Wave Trail Guide
Sorry, this was taken after sunset our first night!

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!

Valley of Fire Setting up for a sunset shot
Of course, everyone who visits, or at least everyone with an Instagram account, has to do a shot like this!

Valley of Fire State Park Nevada USA_On top of Fire Wave
Can you see me? On top of Fire Wave. Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

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!

Valley of Fire State Park Nevada USA_Sunrise at Fire Wave
Valley of Fire – Sunrise at Fire Wave. Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

It had rained the previous day and the additional moisture in the sandstone brought out vibrant colors in the swirls.

Valley of Fire State Park Nevada USA_Fire Wave at sunrise
Fire Wave at sunrise. Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

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.

Valley of Fire Pink Canyons

The hike is easy but may take a while 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.

 

Valley of Fire State Park Nevada USA_Walking through the pink canyon
Walking through the pink canyon. Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

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!

valley of fire rocks in the pink canyon
Rocks in the pink canyon. Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

The detail in the rocks is fascinating. Everywhere you turn there is a geological story to tell. Oh if these rocks could talk!

Valley of Fire
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

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?

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25 Comments

  1. Katie
    January 25, 2017

    Just beautiful! That looks like a hike I’d really enjoy. And I love seeing the difference between the sunset and sunrise light — it’s much softer at sunrise, isn’t it?

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 1, 2017

      @Katie, yes, but I think only in the winter, in summer it is a bit stronger. I prefer the park in winter, it is sweltering in the summer!

      Reply
  2. Susan Mary Malone
    January 25, 2017

    These pictures are just stunning! Truly makes me want to go. And the fire wave is so aptly named!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 1, 2017

      @SusanMary, it is worth the trip!

      Reply
  3. Chastity
    January 25, 2017

    Wow, just stunning! We take a trip to Vegas every year, so we will have to drive out to the park next time.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 1, 2017

      @Chastity, definitely do, it’s only an hour from Vegas!

      Reply
  4. valmg @ Mom Knows It All
    January 25, 2017

    That photographer’s photos are terrific. They show great color! I must admit, in a couple the colors reminded me of bacon, I must be hungry LOL.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 1, 2017

      @Valmg, ha-ha! That’s okay, I won’t tell my hubby!

      Reply
  5. Neely Moldovan
    January 25, 2017

    I love visiting state and national parks. These are gorgeous photos. Looks like an amazing place!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 1, 2017

      @Neely, it is pretty special. I’ve had such a great year exploring parks.

      Reply
  6. maria @closetohome
    January 25, 2017

    that is the coolest thing I have seen in a while Totally putting this on my bucket list.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 1, 2017

      @Maria, it is a really great park, that’s why I keep going back!

      Reply
  7. Mary
    January 26, 2017

    I love the colors of the rocks! We drove through the painted mountains and historic route 66 on my trip across country. I never knew so many reds and oranges existed in nature.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 1, 2017

      @Mary, isn’t it amazing? And all 100% natural!

      Reply
  8. julie stine
    January 26, 2017

    These photos are gorgeous! I must visit this park next time I am in Las Vegas.
    Any great hike suggestions for the Surprise area? I’ll be there next month.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 1, 2017

      @Julie, I’ve never done any in Surprise, we’re always there to visit my parents or go to spring training, so I never get to!

      Reply
  9. Crystal
    January 26, 2017

    Those canyons are gorgeous. My kids are getting to an age where they are starting to appreciate the beauty of nature more. Can’t wait to head there on a family road trip.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 1, 2017

      @Crystal, this park is great for families. Lots of little hikes for beginners!

      Reply
  10. Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate
    January 27, 2017

    The Southwest is just pure magic, isn’t it? I mean, how are these rock formations even real?

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 1, 2017

      @Kristin, it totally blows my mind!

      Reply
  11. San
    February 3, 2017

    Beautiful! I went to the Valley of Fire two summers ago but didn’t make it to the wave (my niece got car-sick)…

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 4, 2017

      @San, you must go back another time, it is so beautiful!

      Reply
  12. Calvin F.
    June 1, 2017

    Very cool rock formations 😛

    Reply
  13. monique
    June 16, 2017

    cool! we will be there in 4 weeks. Would you explain to me where the Pink Canyon trail starts? I cannot find it on a map.
    Monique
    The Netherlands, Europe

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      June 19, 2017

      @Monique, happy to help! Follow the Wave Trail until you get to the wave and the big curved rock – it will be the one that every one is taking picutres of. Walk down the backside of the rock descending into the canyon and follow the river wash through the rocks. The trail is not marked, you just have to stay on the river bed. If you are going in 4 weeks be VERY careful with the sun it is EXTREMELY hot on the wave and in the canyons this time of year. Go early and bring lots of water.

      Reply

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