Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Valley of Fire State Park’

Escaping Las Vegas


In a move that can only be described as being highly uncharacteristic, last week Kelly and I made a snap decision to leave the soothing vast emptiness of Death Valley National Park and visit its evil twin – Las Vegas – for a few days.

We made the decision knowing that during the stay I would have a chance to meet-up with former colleagues attending a conference while also making time to visit family.  Coupled with a few other to-do’s while in the area, these “up-sides” became justifications Kel and I anchored to as we ventured into the city known for showcasing much of the urban trappings we otherwise loath.

And yes … we did spend an evening on the strip dining and walking – not gambling – through casinos.

Valley of Fire State Park is located about an hour from the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas strip, but scenically the park may as well sit atop another planet.  This being our second visit to VOF we knew what to expect.  The park is not particiually large and ambitious hikers can easily  traverse most of the trails in two or three days.

As an escape from the Vegas circus this place is just about perfect … even more so if you camp in the (cheaper) non-hook-up sites.



Valley of Fire State Park

Following our failed visit to Zion National Park in Utah, Kelly and I headed west into Nevada – our destination being Valley of Fire State Park.  A few months ago I was channel surfing and stumbled upon a TV show showcasing the park.  At the time, I didn’t think much about it other than to make a mental note that one day our visiting the park might make for a nice side trip.


Well, as things turned out, Kelly and I found ourselves in the neighborhood with a few extra days to kill before heading back to HMB.  This being the case  we decided to re-watch that Valley of Fire TV episode (click here to view) in order to refresh our memories of the park’s offerings and then decide whether or not to visit.  Rather quickly we agreed to check it out.

Overall the park is awesome and I’m really glad we stopped there.

Only 40 miles from the Vegas strip (easy interstate driving), this park is clearly a hidden jewel.  Any visit to Vegas should include a dash of sanity that this park can readily provide.  Rather than sip drinks at some cheesy poolside hotel bar all day, I’d suggest venturing over for a day nature … then return to the strip to scratch that nagging gambling itch.

Another added plus for anyone opting for the overnight stay – the sites are HUGE.  Just make sure to arrive early in the day as all sites (about 70 across two campgrounds) fill first-come, first-serve.  We arrived early Thursday afternoon to an almost full campground, but did manage to snag a perimeter site with awesome, unobstructed views.  By dinner, all sites were taken.

Our site

Our site #36



Dusk views from our site

Dusk view from our site

Within the park there are a number of easily accessible sights – many being “vehicle tourist friendly” at 0.5 to 1-mile hiking from various parking lots and turnouts.  Kelly and I strung together a number of smaller hikes in order to create a few longer 3 and 4 mile hikes.

Duck Rock

Duck Rock

Poodle Rock

Poodle Rock

Elephant Rock

Elephant Rock

For those interested in as much, there are a few historical sites/attractions to view – some old, others historic.

Cabin remains

Cabin remains

Petroglyph markings

Petroglyph markings

One thing I really appreciated about the park is the variety of colors throughout.  My pictures definitely don’t do things fair justice – you will need to witness for yourself.






Much of the park is what I imagine Mars to look like,   Btw, I’m not alone in that description – many movies have been filmed here – principally due to the unique terrain.  At least that is what the Visitor Center literature would have you believe.  In fact, fans of Star Trek: Generations (1994) might be interested to know that numerous scenes were filled at the park.  In fact, the fight scene where Captain Kirk dies (sorry for the spoiler) was filmed in the area below.

Star Trek movie landscape

Star Trek movie landscape

Not being a big Sci-Fi type myself, I don’t get too excited about the Trekkie factoids, but I do give this park a big thumbs-up.

Probably my favorite hike was the 9-mile (out and back) starting near the Visitor Center, ending at the touristy north end of the park.  Kelly, Lilly, and I wandered into this unmarked, non-maintained,  mostly empty trail and over a four-hour period encountered only four people.  As evidenced within the pictures below, the hike is awesome.  Lilly was in heaven scrambling up and down the rock and was completed exhausted afterwards.

One of the unmarked / non-maintained trails

Yep, that’s the trail

Following the wash area

Following the wash area

Crazy erosion patterns

Crazy erosion patterns everywhere


One tired doggie

If  you seek two or three days of low-key camping in a mostly un-crowded park, Vally of Fire State Park just may be your ideal place.

Note:  For those who care … working remotely would be easy here – using my Wilson Sleek for data amplification (connected to the roof antenna), I was able to secure 4G LTE on Verizon.  By contrast, AT&T was worthless.  Cellular is finicky in the park campground, but when using the Sleek I, secured a good signal sufficient for calls.  However, without amplification boost, forget it.