A couple weekends ago, I found myself out at Valley of Fire National Park. If you’ve never heard of the park before, chances are you’ve seen it; its jagged, red landscape has served as the backdrop for movies like Total Recall and Viva Las Vegas. It is one of four major recreational areas that surround the Las Vegas valley (the others being Lake Mead, Mount Charleston and Red Rock) and is Nevada’s oldest state park. It is about an hour north of the city, and its jagged, red sandstone formations make it hard to miss.
The red rock formations in Valley of Fire aren’t the only thing that makes it stand out from its neighboring public lands. Valley of Fire was once home to the Basket and Anasazi people, who left behind petroglyphs in the caves and rocks where they once lived. But the petroglyphs aren’t the only reason to visit Valley of Fire. There are more than seven major points of interest all throughout the park, from the rock formations that resemble beehives, the cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, petrified logs or the giant rock formation known as Elephant Rock.
Valley of Fire offers all the typical outdoor activities you’d find in the desert like camping, hiking, and mountain climbing, but it has recently become a popular place for outdoor weddings. You can also take photographic tours of the Valley, but I’d recommend going on your own. You can take equally breathtaking pictures and you can spend as much time as you want at each point of interest.
If you’re interested in visiting Valley of Fire, I recommend going early especially in the summer. It gets hot out there after 9 a.m. and some of the points don’t offer much in the way of shade. No matter when you go if you practice the general safety rules for extreme temperatures (bring plenty of water, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc.) you should be able to enjoy all that the park has to offer.
Drive Time: Approximately one hour from Las Vegas
Admission: 10$ per car, per day/ 20$ camping fee