Leaving Las Vegas
Ever wonder what the Mars Pathfinder feels like? Put yourself in another world at Valley of Fire, Nevada's first state park. The oddly shaped sandstone palisades, outcrops and canyons are painted in hues ranging from flaming orange to deep crimson, depending on the time of day. In 300 BC, the Basket Maker people roamed these parts, followed later by the Anasazi Pueblo farmers who left their petroglyphs on the rock walls.
Directions: From Vegas, take I-15 north about 55 miles to Highway 169 and turn right. From there it's 14 miles to the park entrance. There is a $4 fee.
White Domes Trail
Length: 7 miles
From the park entrance, drive .2 miles and turn left, following signs for a mile to the Mouse's Tank parking area. Park a half-mile north at the road's end, where the trail begins. A few hundred yards from the trailhead, take the White Domes Trail on the left, following an old road that was once a scenic drive. Notice the Mormon Mountains rise to the north into the desert sky. After about three more miles, the trail ends near the White Domes, sandstone mounds from which the red iron oxide has been leached by water. Enjoy the view and return the way you came.
Information: Call Valley of Fire State Park at (702) 397-2088
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
Valley of Fire State Park Highlights
- A quarter-mile trail near the east entrance of Valley of Fire leads to Elephant Rock, one of the best, and easily one of the most photographed, examples of eroding sandstone in Nevada's oldest state park.
- Dig your feet into deep red sand at the bottom of a narrow canyon on the mile-long Petroglyph Trail. Scan the cliffs on the left side of the trail to see hundreds of ancient rock carvings.
- You can do the easiest rock climbing at Valley of Fire by ascending a five-story staircase that goes up the face of sheer Atlatl Rock. The vertigo-inducing open riser brings you eye level with petroglyphs, the origins of which are impossible to imagine.
- Even seemingly sheer walls require little to no technical climbing for the balanced and brave. The porous sandstone has plenty of convenient holds for your hands and feet. You don't have to climb too far to reach a ridge and firm footing.
- Nevada's oldest state park (established in 1935) encompasses 46,000 acres and is located only 55 miles from Las Vegas. It has two campgrounds, prosaically named A and B. The combined 51 sites are first-come first-served and are equipped with sheltered picnic tables, grills, and water.
- Campground A is the bigger of the two and is open year-round. It can host RVs up to 30 feet, with three walk-in sites in back. It has flush toilets and showers.
- Campground B is closed for two to three months in the summer. More compact and scenic, the back sites, under fiery red cliffs, are the most spectacular in Nevada. It has vault toilets.
- Ten miles southeast of the park entrance is Echo Bay Campground, with upper and lower loops—the lower campground has more shade. The 155 sites welcome tents and RVs up to 35 feet. Water, toilets, tables, and grills are provided.
Valley of Fire State Park Travel Q&A
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