Some lesser known state parks can flaunt the grandeur of national parks, and Nevada’s first state park, Valley of Fire, defends that claim. Originally we planned on driving straight from Great Basin National Park, Nevada to Joshua Tree National Park, California but we made the spontaneous detour to Cathedral Gorge State Park. While searching for a free place to boondock near Las Vegas, I stumbled upon Valley of Fire–there was BLM land just outside of it. After the brief detour to Cathedral Gorge, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to make another brief detour to Valley of Fire.
However, unlike Cathedral Gorge, Valley of Fire is massive. Not massive by national park standards, but definitely massive by state park standards. While only a few hours are required to see all of Cathedral Gorge, several days would be necessary to explore all of what Valley of Fire has to offer. Sadly, we only had half a day to check out a handful of the park’s highlights.
In order to get a head start on our day, beat the weekend crowd, avoid the afternoon heat, and watch a spectacular sunrise, we got up bright and early to search for Fire Wave. It wasn’t difficult to find, and the half mile hike to reach it was also easy. This was a photographer’s paradise.
After Fire Wave, we made our way to the nearby White Domes Slot Canyon, another quick hike under a mile.
Interesting rocks, desert shrubs and cacti abound!
Next, we drove through most of the gorgeous alien-like park to Elephant Rock, which is conveniently located along the road.
And finally, we made the quick driving tour through the Arch Rock campground area where I was able to carefully observe Mother Nature’s wind stone arches.
As the park began to fill up with tour buses, the temperature rose, and we knew it was our time to head out to our planned destination–Joshua Tree National Park. After all, we had never even heard of the park the day before! Considering Valley of Fire is only an hour’s drive from Las Vegas, I’m sure the park is the outdoor lovers’ retreat for the nearby locals. With unimaginable beauty comparable to the deserts of southern Utah and Arizona, Valley of Fire deserves to be visited again and again.