Las Vegas is fun, but it quickly becomes too much of everything. Did you know that you can hop in a car, drive for less than an hour from the Vegas Strip, and hang out in one of the most stunning state parks in all of the Desert West?
Valley of Fire State Park is a quick 50-mile drive northwest of Las Vegas. It is named after the bright red sandstone that appears to be on fire from the sun’s rays. It was particularly vibrant at sunset and produced some of our favorite photography from the trip. The park is almost 46,000 acres and has a first-come, first-served campground tucked into rock formations on both sides. The campground is nicely laid out, and the private showers much appreciated. There are plenty of hiking trails and day use areas that also make it an excellent choice for a day trip from Las Vegas.
We love a good visitor center, and this one does not disappoint. The displays are well maintained, and provide information on the geology, ecology, and history of the park. The petroglyphs are a popular attraction, and well worth seeing. Ancient Pueblo Peoples inhabited the park from 300 B.C. to 1150 A.D. and left works of art that depicted hunting and food gathering. One couldn’t help but think about their comfort level in the Mojave Desert while glancing at the myriad of RVs with air conditioning units we seem to require in the modern age. The petroglyphs had us pondering many things.
Valley of Fire Road is the main road winding through the park and is so stunning that it was designated a Nevada Scenic Byway in 1995. There are other features that draw visitors out of Las Vegas and into the Mojave Desert. Elephant Rock, Windstone Arch and Fire Canyon Arch are all beautiful natural features worthy of your time. Also be sure to check out the rock cabins that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corp. in the late 1930s.
If you’re looking to get off the strip for the day or two, Valley of Fire State Park is among our top choices. It was quiet and serene in the evenings, and there was plenty to explore during the day.