Valley of Fire State Park is about an hour outside of Las Vegas just off Interstate 15 north. If you are coming or going to Zion National Park, it is easy to map a loop down the smaller highway to see it. Valley of Fire is a small park, but with some quite interesting rock formations. There are a few campgrounds and a visitor center, making it a reasonable place to overnight if you were so inclined. We stopped on our way into the city for a few hours and these are our experiences.
A short guide to a small park
The park lies between Lake Mead and Interstate 15. Valley of Fire Highway cuts through the park east-west connecting the lake and the highway. There are a number of sights and the visitor center on this main highway. It is easy to drive although there are one or two steep places. Since this is a State Park, not a National Park, your National Park Pass is not going to be good here. Just follow the signs and directions to pay at the entrance you come in at. At the time of the year we came through it involved cash in an envelope.
A second road in the park turns off the Valley of Fire Highway at the visitor center. It is pretty flat to the visitor center parking lot, but then it goes rather steep up into the namesake valley of fire. Spiky red rocks abound on both sides of the road. We only got to the first site “Mouse’s Tank” before deciding due to time and steepness reasons to head back down.
Infrastructure in the park is spare. There is a small visitor center with some geological descriptions of the area and a pair of campgrounds. I didn’t see any stores though, so come into the park with your food.
Things to See While Driving Through Valley of Fire
East to West we stopped at the following. Overall we spent maybe an hour in the park. You could definitely spend longer if you had interest.
- Elephant Rock : An arch which looks like a trunk from a rock.
- Seven Sisters : Seven rocks on a flat rocky plain with picnic tables and a bathroom. Some nice shade here if you wanted to eat.
- Visitors Center
Mouse’s Tank Parking Area : There is a short trail to the Mouse’s Tank rock.
- Atltl Rock : A big bulbous rock with a set of stairs that lead you up to see some rather detailed petroglyphs.
There are a handful of other sign posted trails along the way and definitely further you can drive on the road into the valley. This is a similar rock to that at Arches and Bryce which produces arches in the sandstone formations. So there are arches around to see. The red color is deeper than we had seen at other parks.
Be aware of the weather and your water supply. We had spent the past week at high altitude at Zion and Bryce and were not at all used to the heat in Nevada.