Valley of Fire Nevada is a true gem filled with red sandstone outcrops that resemble a fire wave on a bright sunny day.
Located just one hour away from Las Vegas, it’s the ultimate getaway from the hustle and bustle of Sin City. The largest state park in Nevada, it is a home to a number of scenic hiking trails and gorgeous vistas.
Besides being one of the best places to visit near Las Vegas, it’s also a great place to stop because of its incredible scenery, if you are just driving from Utah to California or the other way around.
Valley of Fire State Park – brief introduction
Valley of Fire is the largest and oldest state park in Nevada that was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1968. Valley of Fire State Park got its name after 40,000 acres of bright-orange Aztec sandstone that covers the area. On a clear sunny day these sandstone formations create an incredible natural sight, that looks like the real fire, hence the name of the area.
The Valley of Fire State Park has two main roads through the park, The Valley of Fire Highway, that runs east to west and has both entrances to the park. The top stops along this highway include the Beehives, Atlatl Rock, Seven Sisters and Elephant Rock.
Another major road through the park is Mouse’s Tank Road (or White Domes Road) that stretches north from the Valley of Fire Highway, and takes you through the main area of the state park. This is an incredibly scenic road, so get your camera ready and be prepared to make make a few stops along the way. There are also several hiking trails along this highway.
Where is Valley of Fire located?
The Valley of Fire is located about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada. It takes about one hour and 10 minutes to get here from Las Vegas via Interstate-15. From Interstate-15, you need to take an exit toward Valley of Fire, and follow a two-lane road before you arrive at the west entrance of the park.
Renting a car for your trip to Valley of Fire State Park
To visit Valley of Fire, you will need to either rent a car or take a guided tour. I recommend renting your car from DiscoverCars, one of the best rental car companies that offers a good selection of vehicles and flexible rates. You can rent your car at the Las Vegas airport, and pick it up after you land, so you can explore some of the best places near Las Vegas in addition to Valley of Fire State Park.
Valley of Fire State Park entrance fee
Valley of Fire State Park entrance fee is $10 per vehicle for Nevada residents and $15 for out-of-state visitors.
After you pay the fee you get a map with all of the park’s landmarks, hiking trails and points of interest. The park is open from sunrise to sunset, which is important to remember if you are visiting the park during winter, when the sun goes down before 5 p.m.
The Valley of Fire State Park is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
The best things to do in Valley of Fire
1. Take a guided tour of Valley of Fire
A guided tour of the Valley of Fire from Las Vegas is the best option if you don’t have a car rental, and still want to see this place. Guided tours leave daily from Las Vegas and include a guided tour of the area accompanied by a professional guide who will show you the top highlights of the park such as hikes and scenic overlooks.
Some tours of Valley of Fire also include stops at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area near Las Vegas. So, if you are looking to combine these two popular stops in one trip, a guided tour is an excellent option.
Other popular tours of Valley of Fire from Las Vegas
2. Stop at Valley of Fire Visitor Center
Valley of Fire Visitor Center sits at the intersection of the Valley of Fire Highway and Mouse’s Tank Road.
Learning about the local environment, checking out some exhibits as well as getting some tips from the park ranger are some of the best things to do in Valley of Fire, if you are visiting for the first time. It’s also the last place where you can fill up your water bottle before continuing your journey through the park.
Valley of Fire Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
3. Enjoy the scenic view in the Beehives
The Beehives are a group of quirky sandstone formations at the very first stop of the Valley of Fire State Park after the west entrance. They were created as water and wind eroded the red sandstone, giving it the unique shapes you see today. Hiking is one of the best things to do in Valley of Fire State Park, and Beehives offer a good taste of this activity without getting you tired.
You can also climb on top of one of these domes to get a good overview of the area.
4. See petroglyphs in Atlatl rock
One of the first points of interest in the Valley of Fire is Atlatl Rock, a giant boulder that has metal stairs leading up to a display of petroglyphs.
The entire Valley of Fire has thousands of petroglyphs that were left there by the Anasazi Pueblo farmers. Some Valley of Fire petroglyphs are more than 3,000 years old, so this place is definitely worth a stop.
FUN FACT: Atlatl Rock got its name after a throwing stick that was used to launch a spear by the original inhabitants of this area, and you can spot them in the petroglyphs here.
5. … Or Petroglyph Canyon
Petroglyph Canyon is located near Atlatl Rock and is arguably the best place in the entire Valley of Fire to see petroglyphs. A half-mile trail to Petroglyph Canyon begins at Mouse’s Tank and leads you to a collection of impressive petroglyphs on the north wall as well as in other parts of the canyon.
6. Check out Arch Rock
If you keep driving along the loop, your next stop is going to be Arch Rock.
When you get closer to Arch Rock, you will see numerous signs asking you not to climb on top of the rock, please heed them as sandstone is actually very fragile substance what it may seem like to a first-time visitor. It might not be as impressive as other famous arches in the southwest USA, but it still looks very unique, and makes for a short quick stop where you can snap a few photos.
7. Get away from the sun in Mouse’s Tank
Distance: 0.75 miles round-trip hike
Mouse’s Tank is named after a Southern Paiute Indian, Little Mouse, a renegade who was hiding here back in the 1890’s after he was accused of killing two prospectors. A natural basin that stores water year-round, Mouse’s Tank is shadowy area that is perfect to escape the hot desert sun. It is located at the beginning of the trail toward Petroglyph Canyon.
PRO TIP: This is a nice hike to cool off, but it doesn’t offer the spectacular scenery of some other trails in the Valley of Fire. If time is short and you want to enjoy some of the best things to do in the Valley of Fire, skip this hike.
8. Snap a photo of Mouse’s Tank Road
Right between Mouses’s Tank and Rainbow Vista lies the most picturesque stretch of the Valley of Fire State Park called White Domes Road or Mouse’s Tank Road. Make sure to pull over and take a picture as the view of the road surrounded by the red sandstone cliffs is truly magical.
PRO TIP: The best view of White Domes Road opens from the Silica Dome Overlook, a rock that’s perched high above the road. You can find it after a slight turn off from White Domes Road. Park your side on the road where the road bends to the right and climb on top of the rock.
Another great spot to snap the photo is located near the parking lot for Rainbow Vista. Cross the street from the parking lot and hike up the rocks to get the famous view.
9. Enjoy Rainbow Vista
Distance: 1 mile round-trip
This 1-mile roundtrip hike culminates with a panoramic view of the Valley of Fire. The rainbow Vista is famous fro its multicolored sandstone and is an excellent spot for taking photos.
Besides being pretty scenic, the Rainbow Vista hike is very easy, so you can quickly hike to the end of your trail and back to your car.
10. Get away from the crowds in the Fire Cave
Also known as Windstone Arch, Fire Cave is one of the less known spots in the Valley of Fire located along the Scenic Loop Road that is not marked on the map.
Recently, it has become popular with photographers who come here to snap photos of the unique rock formation. Making a stop at the Fire Cave is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas, if you are looking to get off the beaten track, since only a small fraction of visitors make it here. To find it, download an offline map ahead of your visit to the Valley of Fire.
11. Hike through Pastel Canyon
Valley of Fire Nevada has a little secret.
… It’s called Pastel Canyon!
This gorgeous site isn’t designated on the map and therefore, doesn’t see as many people as other popular stops in the Valley of Fire. In recent years, it has been getting more attention thanks to online articles and social media posts.
How to find Pastel Canyon
To find Pastel Canyon, you will need to do some work.
This spot is located close to The Fire Wave and White Dome Trail and takes you about 15 minutes to walk through. To get there, find a marker with number 5 in the dip between Parking 1 and Parking 2 and follow the dry wash to the east. Hiking is one of the best things to do in Valley of Fire, and there’s no better place for it than Pastel Canyon.
GOOD TO KNOW: Combined with the neighboring Fire Wave, Pastel Canyon makes bigger loop that is called the Seven Wonders. You will find more information about it below.
12. Enjoy the view at The Fire Wave
Distance: 1.5 miles
Fire Wave is one of the most popular hikes in the Valley of Fire that culminated with a spectacular view of sandstone formations resembling a zebra print.
The best time to hike Fire Wave is either at sunrise or sunset, when the area is lit up in the golden colors. Just like with the rest of Valley of Fire, if you want to enjoy your visit and avoid the crowds, plan your visit to the Fire Wave for early morning or late afternoon.
GOOD TO KNOW: Snapping photos of the Fire Wave is one of the most popular things to do in Valley of Fire, and many visitors come here specifically for that. If you come during the busy time, be polite, and let others take their turn, if you see that people are waiting. Common courtesy goes a long time every time you visit a popular destination like the Valley of Fire.
PRO TIP: You can cut down your hike to the Fire Wave if you access it through Pastel Canyon. As you keep walking through Pastel Canyon, you will reach a wash. If you continue walking straight, you will get out on the northern side of the Fire Wave.
13. Hike the Seven Wonders Loop
Distance: 1.8 miles
If you have extra time, you can combine stops at the Fire Wave and Pink Canyon into one hike, that is 1.8-mile hike that is more commonly known as Seven Sisters Loop.
To do this hike, start from the parking lot that leads to the Fire Wave, however, you can also start at the Pastel Canyon. If you decide to begin from the Fire Wave parking lot, leave your vehicle on the west side (which is located on the left hand side, if you are driving up north on Mouse’s Tank Road).
14. Hike White Domes
Distance: 1.25 miles
The White Domes Trail is one of the most beautiful hikes in the Valley of Fire and also on elf the most strenuous. It begins with a quick descent and after a flat portion has a climb to the top toward the parking lot. My favorite part of this hike is a narrow slot canyon, that is one of the best spots in the Valley of Fire for taking photos.
15. Stop at Seven Sisters
Seven Sisters is a group of sandstone formations along the Valley of Fire Highway, that is a good quick stop, if you need a quick break from driving through the park.
16. Snap a photo of Elephant Rock
Elephant Rock is the last stop along the Valley of Fire Highway just before the Lake Mead East Entrance.
The spot gets its name from a quirky rock formation resembling an elephant. Here you can also take a cool picture in a photo frame. To access Elepahnt Rock, take a short 0.2-mile trail that runs along the road toward the eastern entrance of the the Valley of Fire State Park. You can also hike the 1.2 mile loop.
GOOD TO KNOW: Since visitation to the Valley of Fire has increased recently, stopping at Elephant Park has become one of the most popular things to do in the Valley of Fire. Now you can find numerous signs near Elephant Rock asking not to climb it. Please heed the warning and stay away from this fragile sandstone formation, as you can easily damage it.
17. Camp in Valley of Fire
Camping is one of the best things to do in Valley of Fire for adventurous travelers.
Valley of Fire has two campgrounds with 72 campsites that come on the first-come, first-serve basis and have tables, water hook-ups and bathrooms. Campfires are allowed only in designed camp sites.
If you are traveling with RV, Valley of Fire has hookups for water and power.
Campers are limited to 14 days as Valley of Fire gets busy especially during shoulder seasons, when visitors from colder climates come here to catch some sun and enjoy warm temperatures.
Camping at Valley of Fire costs $20 per night for Nevada residents and $25 for out-of-state residents.
Where To Stay Near Valley of Fire
Since Valley of Fire has no hotels, you best bet is to stay on one of hotels in Las Vegas. Here are some of the options for different budgets.
The Strip is home to some of the most famous hotels in Las Vegas such as the LINQ, a photogenic stay with a pool, photogenic rooms and the unbeatable location in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip.
Downtown Las Vegas (shortly DTLV) is the historic Las Vegas where most of fun stuff was prior to Las Vegas Strip. Many visitors come to DTLV to visit some of the best museums like the Mob Museum, the Neon Museum or the Old Mormon Fort.
Some of the most popular restaurants in downtown Las Vegas are The D Las Vegas, Circa Resort, one of the newest hotels in Las Vegas and the tallest structure north of the Las Vegas Strip and the Golden Gate, a historic hotel along the Fremont Street.
How much time do you need in the Valley of Fire?
Plan no less than 3 hours at the Valley of Fire, and ideally, at least half a day here.
This way, you will have time to explore the park, and do a couple of hikes, instead of just driving through the park and stopping at a couple of scenic overlooks. If you can spend half a day at Valley of Fire, you can make stops at most scenic overlooks and do a couple of scenic hikes.
Some of my favorite stops in Valley of Fire are Atlatl Rock, Mouse’s Tank Road, Pink Canyon and the Fire Wave. If you can spend the entire day at the Valley of Fire, you can also do the entire loop from the Fire Wave to White Domes.
Valley of Fire Day Trip From Las Vegas
If you are thinking about visiting Valley of Fire on a Day Trip from Las Vegas, make sure leave early. Valley of Fire is one of the most popular places to visit near Las Vegas, and it can get pretty busy during the high season.
Get on the road around 7 a.m., so you can arrive before the park gets busy. (The earlier you can get up, the better, since the park is open from the sunrise through sunset). Bring enough food and water, because there are no convenience stores or restaurants within the park, and it can get pretty hot.
How to plan a day trip from Las Vegas to Valley of Fire
- Get in the park through the west entrance
- Optional stop at Beehives
- Head north on Mouse’s Tank Road and make some stops for photos
- Head to Pink Canyon and from there to Fire Wave so you could beat other visitors
- Hike White Domes. Optional stop at viewpoint over White Domes
- Continue toward Elephant Rock
- Make a stop at Atlatl Rock, Petroglyph Canyon and Fire Cave
Things to know before visiting Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire in Nevada is an incredible place to visit. However, since this is a remote area, there are a few things you need to know about of your trip.
1. Don’t forget to bring water
There are no hotels, stores or restaurants inside the Valley of Fire. And besides the visitors center where you can fill up your water bottle there’s nowhere else to get water, so make sure to bring at least a gallon of water and some snacks for your trip.
2. Bring a camera
Don’t forget to bring a camera and spare batteries because Valley of Fire offers some of the most spectacular views in Southern Nevada. Once you get there, you will want to take some photos.
3. Check your car
Valley of Fire State Park is not a place to have a car breakdown. Besides having a spotty coverage, it’s located in the middle of the desert and takes time to reach. Having to call a tow truck is the last thing you want to do while you are here!
4. Fill up your tank
There are no gas stations inside the Valley of Fire of State Park. Running out of gas in the middle of the desert would really suck, especially if you travel in the middle of the summer when temperatures in the area are between 110-120 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s a gas station off Interstate-15 right after you take exit toward the Valley of Fire.
5. Do not rely on your phone
Cell phone service is very spotty throughout the Valley of Fire State Park. Do not rely on your cell phone. Instead download an offline map ahead of your visit and grab a paper map at the entrance.
6. Stay on designated trails
Here you will find big horn sheep, snakes, various birds and many other animals. When you hike, it’s important to stay on trails because desert ecosystems are incredibly fragile and can take a long time to regenerate.
7. Leave no trace
When visiting Valley of Fire State Park, remember to follow the rules of leave no trace. Pack out all your trash, leave places as you found them, be respectful to other visitors and stay away from wildlife.
Best Time to Visit Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park is located in the Mojave Desert, and it can get pretty hot here! The hottest weather at Valley of Fire is from May through late September, when temperatures can climb to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
The best time to visit Valley of Fire State Park is from mid-fall through late spring when temperatures hover between high 60s and mid-70s. Winter is a great time to visit Valley of Fire State Park, thanks to cool temperatures and fewer visitors.
If you visit Valley of Fire during late spring or summer, put on plenty of sunscreen and stay hydrated, especially if you are new to the dry desert heat. It’s also a good idea to plan your hikes for early morning and be done before noon. Generally, I don’t recommend visiting Valley of Fire in summer, simply because the triple-digit temperatures make it too hard to hike and enjoy the outdoors.
What’s near Valley of Fire State Park
When visiting Valley of Fire, consider combining your trip with some other popular stops in the area. Here’s a quick overview:
- Lake Mead National Recreation Area (2 miles from the east entrance)
- St. Thomas Ghost Town (5.6 miles/10 minutes)
- Red Rock National Conservation Area (62.4 miles/1 hour 10 minutes)
- Hoover Dam (63.6 miles/1 hour 15 minutes)
Final word on visiting Valley of Fire, Nevada
Valley of Fire State Park is one of the road trips from Las Vegas. It offers a perfect escape from Sin City as it offers a great change of scenery and opportunities for photography and some exercise. If you are looking for one of the best things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling, Valet of Fire should be on your list.
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