5 Unmissable Things To Do At The Valley Of Fire State Park, Nevada
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Interested in visiting the Valley of Fire State Park from Las Vegas? This is not a bad idea at all! There are many things to do in Valley of Fire State Park which is why it’s one of our top recommendations for a day trip.
We had an amazing day out exploring this unique and diverse landscape. Whether you’re driving or hiking through this incredible park, the beauty of it is unmatched.
Down below are our tips on the best Valley of Fire things to do!
Is Valley of Fire Worth Visiting?
Fire Wave Hike, Valley of Fire
How does traipsing around waves of pink, orange, and red rock sound? Once again, Mother Nature has provided us with an exquisite colorful playground to explore.
This marvel called the Valley of Fire in Nevada is the perfect day trip from Las Vegas, and the best of the State Parks near LV!
If you spend any amount of time among the craziness of Sin City, you’ll be seeking respite. At only an hour away from the Strip, Valley of Fire State Park Nevada is the ultimate escape from the flashing lights and debauchery.
What makes Valley of Fire worth visiting is it’s very doable to explore the park in one day! Not to mention its Nevada’s oldest state park.
Where is Valley of Fire State Park?
The Valley of Fire State Park NV is located in the Mojave Desert and covers an area of approximately 35,000 acres.
It is the oldest of the Nevada State Parks and was dedicated in 1935. It is managed by The Bureau of Land Management, and you will find the Valley of Fires Recreation area near the town of Carrizozo, which is about 4 miles away from the park.
Directions to Valley of Fire State Park
Spectacular VAlley of Fire drive
The Valley of Fire State Park from the Las Vegas strip is 49 miles northeast. You can get there by driving along the I-15.
There are two main entrances to the park: the west entrance and the east entrance.
Or, if you are staying at Lake Mead Recreational Area, you can drive along the North Road to reach the east side of the park.
North Road from Lake Mead
I even recommend you enter this way from Las Vegas. It will be an extra 30 minutes but the drive along Northshore Drive is spectacular (see photo above)!! It made our list of top USA scenic drives.
It’s worth leaving a little earlier to experience it.
Car Rental Las Vegas
We highly recommend you rent a car to visit Valley of Fire NV (that is if you don’t already have your own). It’s not far away, but it’s quite remote, so getting there by public transport is not really possible.
You can also check RVShare, should you want to rent a unique campervan or RV and explore further afield.
It’s a fantastic idea to go a little further west into the St George region in Utah! Prepare to be wowed.
Things to Do in Valley of Fire State Park
Now you know a little bit about how to get there and how to plan your trip, it’s time to introduce you to what to do in Fire State Park.
From scenic drives, to hiking trails, picnic areas, viewpoints, and Junior Ranger programs, there is a lot to fill out your day at Valley of Fire Nevada.
Here is what we recommend based on what we were able to do in one day.
1. Take A Scenic Drive through Valley of Fire
WOW! Such a beautiful drive
Phones down, conversations and sing songs on pause, look out the window, there is plenty to gawk at along the Valley of Fire road Nevada.
You may never see such beautiful colors and rock formations in one place again.
There are two main roads going through the Valley of Fire Park. We drove the main paved scenic road (The Valley of Fire Highway NV 169) running north and south through the park. This is also known as Mouse Tank Road or White Domes Road.
There are several short Valley of Fire State Park trails to stop off at along the way. There are also narrow canyons, petroglyphs, desert viewpoints, and loads of colorful rocks in hues moving beyond the red that the park is named for.
Be sure to look out for the most famous sandstone formations in the park; Atlatl Rock, the Seven Sisters, the Beehives, and Elephant Rock.
This is a Rainbow World you are driving through!
Go slow and pull over when you can for some pretty views and photos.
It’s a fire wave!
Right at the beginning when you climb up the road banked by high red cliffs is spectacular, especially when you come back down it. You get a good view of balanced rock from here.
You could just drive through the Valley of Fire Vegas and be satisfied. But we recommend the following Valley of Fire hiking trails to stop at along the way.
2. Hit The Hiking Trails in Valley of Fire State Park
Hiking is one of the top things to do in Valley of Fire State Park, so be sure to pack plenty of water and some sturdy shoes.
Below are the incredible Valley of Fire State Park hikes we did and recommend you do too!
Balanced Rock (0.5 miles)
Great photo opp at Balanced Rock
After stopping in at the Valley of Fire Visitor Center for maps (if you have kids pick up their Junior Rangers books) you can then take the very short nature trail to balanced rock.
It is simply a large rock balancing on top of the other. It is pretty cool to see. Plus some awesome rock formations the kids can crawl inside of.
If you think you’ll be short on time, perhaps do it at the end of the day when you return to the Visitor Center you pick up your Junior Ranger badge, OR you can see it from the scenic drive.
You may see bighorn sheep in this area as well. Look up to the red cliffs above, they like to hang out there and we saw a large gathering of them.
Mouse Tanks Trail (0.7 miles return)
Fun family hike
Mouse Tanks is one of the easiest Valley of Fire trails that goes past a rock face covered in petroglyphs and ends at a little pool of water.
The tank is a natural cavity in the rocks where rainwater collects.
This is where an outlaw, who the trail is named after, is said to have hid.
The tank was used as a water source by a Paiute Indian fugitive (“Little Mouse”) in the 1890s. He was captured and killed after several months in hiding.
It’s an easy, sandy trail and the kids will love the many opportunities to scramble over rocks and explore small slot canyons and caves.
The petroglyphs are cool, I especially like how there was an information board at the beginning of the trail that defined what some of the petroglyphs meant.
The kids were better able to connect to the stories told on the black rock face.
Rainbow Vista Trail (1.8 mile loop)
Another easy hike with kids
I loved the quiet grandeur of the Rainbow Vista Trail.
It’s more of an open trail where you are walking amongst the expanse of the vista – an assortment of rocks in almost every color imaginable.
You’ll come to what feels like the end of the trail but if you turn right it loops around and takes you to a Fire Canyon Wash, a maze of jagged reddish-brown rocks.
There is a huge rock there, you can climb up it for epic views, like Craig did, or walk down the bottom through the valley, like I did.
The Rainbow Vista area is also a great spot for a picnic. You get magnificent views of the valley!
Be sure to pop over the road from the picnic area to get a photo of the rainbow waves stretched in front of you.
Fire Wave & Seven Wonders Trail (1.5 miles return)
Don’t miss the Fire wave trail
The Fire Wave Trail is probably the most popular of the Valley of Fire State Park hikes and where you are going to find the famous colored rock waves.
I can imagine this trail will be baking hot in the summer time so be sure to visit early with adequate water.
It’s the longest of the trails at 1.5 miles, but it is truly one of the most spectacular hikes in Nevada!
The trail begins by heading towards a long steep ridge of red sandstone.
You then drop through some small boulders to a more compact dirt path. A path along the slick rock will then take you over the crest to the fire wave!
From here you can explore the bowl covered in orange, pink, and white stripes and walk around the wave to experience the fullness of its striped, curved beauty.
Fire Wave Valley of Fire is a nice place to sit and contemplate while and let the kids run and play.
Don’t pass over the section across from the beginning of the trailhead just off the parking lot. This area is also pretty filled with interesting rock formations and colors.
The kids will love exploring here as well.
White Domes Trail (1.2 miles loop)
Such a different hike in the Valley of Fire State Park
I loved the White Domes Valley of Fire trail as it was very different from the others.
On this trail, you are going to walk through a world of yellow and white. It begins walking up through a sandy gap between two ridges then down onto the floor of a dry drainage, Kaolin Wash.
You’ll pass by the old movie set used for The Professionals in 1966 which gives it a Mexican feel.
Yes, Hollywood likes the Valley of Fire State Park Nevada too!
The trail then goes through a narrow slot canyon which makes it an interesting hike. This was my favorite part of the trail.
It’s only 150 feet but the beautifully colored rocks offer a cool passageway, perfect for those hot days spent visiting Valley of Fire State Park.
It then comes out to more of an open section where you get views out over the park on one side and as far as the Muddy Mountains in the north and orange cliff aces on the other.
Petrified Wood Trail (0.3 Mile Loop)
Another fascinating phenomenon in the state park is the collection of petrified wood.
Petrified wood happens when a tree has been fossilized and turned to stone. The trail is short and easy and is well marked.
It has a few information pannels that tell you about the process of fossilization and how these logs turned into their current state.
Pastel Canyon (0.4 Miles)
Pastel Canyon, also known as Pink Canyon, is one of the most beautiful parts of the park and is so named because the rock surface is a stunning pastel pink hue.
Sadly we missed this on our visit because we were unable to find the trail. We have since learned that the trailhead is located on Mouse’s Tank Rd from here.
We did attempt to find the Pink Canyon Trail, but we must be bad at following directions and then on the way back, we were ready to get home because the kids were in that whining mood that happens after a day of hiking.
This is something we will add to our list of hikes to do on our return visit.
3. Do the Junior Rangers Program
Fun family activities
If you’ve been following our USA road trip, then you know we LOVE the Junior Ranger Program.
They are well known for USA National Parks, but most state parks will have them as well.
This was a pretty easy one and the girls finished their activities quickly. Leave time to stop into the visitor center at the end of the day to say the Junior Ranger pledge and pick up their badges.
4. Go Camping in Valley of Fire State Park
If you love camping, there are a few Valley of Fire State Park camping options to choose from. Just remember, camping in Nevada can be hot, or cool.
There are 2 campgrounds in Valley of Fire (Arch Rock and Atlatl Rock) inside the park. These campgrounds are well equipped with shaded picnic tables, grills, and water stations and restrooms. There’s also a dump station and showers.
There are also three ground-use campsites that are separate from these sites. You must reserve one of these spots as there’s only enough space for 45 people. To do so, call 702-397-2088, then press “3” for group-use info, and then “1” to make a reservation.
They are all located just inside the West entrance. There is also free camping on BLM land outside the park.
Sites cost $25 per night (including the park entrance fee) and vehicle camping costs $20-$25 per vehicle. Valley of Fire State Park camping operates on a first-come, first serve basis.
5. Visit the Fire Canyon/Silica Dome Viewpoint
Before you leave, take one last look at the beautiful aztec sandstone that surrounds this park from the Fire Canyon and Silica Dome viewpoint.
As the name suggests, the viewpoint offers vistas of the Fire Canyon and Silica Dome.
This viewpoint is great because it requires no hiking to get there, you can simply pull over your car and take it all in.
You can get there by driving from the Visitor Center and then following the directions. It’s not too far away from the center, and you can always ask them for directions if you’re unsure.
Tips for Visiting Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire entrance fee is $10 to the park
Oct – April will see cooler temperatures and may be the better time to visit Valley of Fire State Park Las Vegas
Valley of Fire park is pet friendly (leashes required)
Open daily from sunrise to sunset
Visitor Center Hours: 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. There are exhibits here to learn more about the park. (and cool rocks outside for the kids to climb)
Visit their website for more information (although to be honest there is not a lot of information on there)
Tours from Las Vegas
If you can’t get yourself to the Valley of Fire in your own vehicle you can visit on a Valley of Fire day tour from Las Vegas. Here are some tours we recommend…
Where to Stay in Las Vegas
Pool at Harrah’s
You have unlimited options for accommodation in Las Vegas, which can make choosing a place to stay a bit overwhelming. Below are our top recommendations for hotels on the Strip. We also have a post here sharing accommodation in Las Vegas for families.
These are all in the middle of the Strip, which I think is the best place to stay in Las Vegas.
Before You Go
Valley of Fire is like nowhere else on the planet. The rock formations, the swirls of colors, the unique fossils and petroglyphs, and the numerous hiking trails, make it one of the best places to visit in Nevada.
I hope this guide helped you decide on what things to do in Valley of Fire to add to your itinerary.
Before you go, remember to pack plenty of water and sunscreen, as the Nevada heat is no joke!
Valley of Fire Nevada Video
To get inspired for your trip, here is our video from our trip to Valley of Fire…
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