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Exploring Nevada's Iconic Valley Of Fire

Updated on November 20, 2015
relache profile image

Raye was born in New England, grew up in the Mid-Atlantic, spent college out West, and presently publishes Hubs from the Pacific Northwest.

About The Valley Of Fire

The Valley of Fire is a state park located in eastern Nevada. It's about an hour's drive from Las Vegas and sits just north of Lake Mead. Some of the most stunning sights include the dark orange sandstone rock formations. You'll find wind-carved stone with nicknames like the Seven Sisters, the Beehives and the Elephant.

Fees for park use are extremely reasonable, with cars paying about $12 per day for site use. Several of the campsites have been recently renovated and there are several dozen spots for car and tent campers as well as RVs, with showers provided as part of the campground facilities too. Several locations in the park are also available just for day use and make a great spot for picnicking or a get-together. You can find potable water on site, but if you are picky about the taste, you'll want to bring your own. The park water is from tanks refilled onsite and the water can be warm or tasty funny in extreme weather.

The Valley of Fire is a fairly popular site for weddings, but you will need to get a permit from the park before you head out and conduct your nuptials. Guided tours of the park can even be arranged right from your downtown Vegas hotel. If you don't want to drive out to the Valley, several Jeep tour companies would love to handle all the hassle and let you just enjoy the one-of-a-kind sights.

This desert was once ocean floor

The setting sun hitting the orange mountains and rocks is where the Valley gets its name.  This whole area is comprised mainly of sandstone.
The setting sun hitting the orange mountains and rocks is where the Valley gets its name. This whole area is comprised mainly of sandstone. | Source

Valley Of Fire Guides

Valley of Fire State Park (Nevada) Adventure Guide and Map
Valley of Fire State Park (Nevada) Adventure Guide and Map

Having a map of the Valley can be crucial, especially if you choose to visit in the depths of summer. The area can easily reach temperatures of 120 degrees and, with the exception of Mouse's Tank, there is no water for miles around. Be sure to bring plenty of drinking water and sun protection because this park offers several easy trails and sights, but just getting out of your car may seem challenging innJuly and August. If you can visit in April, when there may be some moisture, be sure to catch the famed Rainbow Vista.


Advice for Visitors and Campers

Sturdy shoes - the Valley is beautiful and day hikes are a great way to really connect with the scenery. But between the rocky surface and the potential for rattlesnakes, sturdy shoes are the appropriate choice for walking around in the park.

Water - Even if you visit the Valley of Fire when it's not got temps soaring into the upper 90s, it is an extremely windy location and that desert wind will keep dehydrating you just as much as the heat can. Potable water is avaiable at many of the camp sites and around the park, but it's also a good idea to carry water bottles and extra water on your own.

Eye protection - With all the wind, sun and sand, sunglasses or tinted goggles are a good idea if you are going to be spending any extended time walking around in the park.

Tenting Advice - The trickiest challenge to tenting in the Valley of Fire is managing to secure your tent to the ground in all the wind. The ground is either soft sand or really hard-packed. I've only ever gotten two things to work: long tent "nails" (12") pounded in with a heavy hammer or weighting down the tent from the inside with very large rocks and gear.

Valley of Fire Views

Once a river bed, most of the rock is now shaped and worn by wind.  The sand is very soft and fine, and bright orange too.
Once a river bed, most of the rock is now shaped and worn by wind. The sand is very soft and fine, and bright orange too. | Source

My Valley of Fire Experiences

I have an annual camping event that I attend which has had me out in the Valley of Fire each spring for the past five years. I've been there between late April and late May, and it's really quite amazing how much the weather can change in just those few weeks. In April the temperature can vary suddenly from the mid-80s to the low 50s. There's more color in April, especially wildflowers early in the month, but with that color often comes some serious winds which can make tent camping challenging.

Once you get into May, the temperature seems to climb steeply with each passing week. By the time you get to the third week of the month, it's not unusual to have daytime temps in the 90s or higher and the overnight lows turn into balmy low 70s. The winds usually tend to not be so bad in May, but you never know when strong gusts are going to kick up out of nowhere. After all, that is the main force shaping all that gorgeous sandstone.

My favorite sights in the Valley of Fire are

  • Mouse's Tank - At the end of a half mile canyon trail lined with fantastic petroglyphs is a natural basin which holds water nearly year-round despite being in the middle of a desert. This was a famous hideout used by Mouse, a late 19th-century renegade Paiute Indian.
  • Atlatl Rock - Another site of petroglyphs and a great camping spot.
  • Rainbow Vista - April is when this vista really "peaks" in terms of colors, and it very nearly does have every color of the rainbow.

Getting out to the Valley of Fire State Park

A markerValley of Fire State Park, NV -
Valley of Fire State Park, 29450 Valley of Fire Highway, Overton, NV 89040, USA
get directions

The park features natural formations, native petroglyphs, desert wildflowers and plants and more. Gas up and get water before you go.

Desert Wildflowers

The best times for viewing wildflowers in the Valley of Fire is March and April.  By mid-May, nearly all the blossoms have finished as temps start to hit 100 degrees in the daytime.
The best times for viewing wildflowers in the Valley of Fire is March and April. By mid-May, nearly all the blossoms have finished as temps start to hit 100 degrees in the daytime. | Source

Have You Visited The Valley Of Fire?

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    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 6 years ago from Western New York

      Wow - I had no idea there was such a beautiful park near Las Vegas! The next time I'm out west, I'll have to take a trip near Lake Mead!

    • relache profile image

      Raye 9 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Hey, Johnny Dee! It was awesome camping with you and the crew and I'm even more stoked about next year's "tent upgrade."

    • profile image

      Johnny Dee 9 years ago

      Once again a fantastic write from Relache, thanx !


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