Take the scenic drive from Hoover Dam along Lake Mead (Lakeshore & Northshore Dr.) to a land of red stone. Climbing up into a garden of smooth sandstone giants, Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park is a jaw-dropping parade of geology. The road snakes upward from the Visitor’s Center providing various parking spots and pullouts along the way. There you can begin a hike or simply enjoy an overlook. Of course, there is what you can see from the road, which is grand no doubt, but there is more to this park than a scenic byway. Hike through the Valley of Fire to see the chuckwalla scaling up rainbow-colored canyons millions of years old. Look up and be amazed by waves of fire and ancient petroglyphs.
Try these 3 great hikes to get a taste for what lies beyond the Valley of Fire’s scenic drive.
Mouse’s Tank takes you through a sandy canyon, showcasing an array of intriguing petroglyphs. Pay close attention, and you will notice that all along the red rocks are markings of animals, people, and designs. Round trip the trail is about 1.5 miles. It ends with a series of tinajas each filled with water. For a map, click here.
Rainbow Vista leads you through a sandy mesa covered in desert vegetation. Rock outcrops litter the hike. Their colors vary and fade into layers of yellow, red, and white, making a rainbow of sorts. The path leads you into a canyon of sand and boulders culminating at a window with an outstanding view of fire rocks reaching out into the far distance. This hike is about 2 miles round trip. For a map, click here.
Although not in the online brochures, the wave is the crown jewel of these three hikes. It’s a 2-mile round trip beginning oppositely from parking lot #3. Descend onto the desert floor while looking up at a powerful butte. Meander arroyos marked with cairns to a sandstone climb. The hike crescendos at the wave. Striations of color form leading lines that swirl over the smooth sandstone bluffs. It’s beautiful in its unintentional symmetry. Please don’t climb on the formations. Keep your eye out for herds of bighorn sheep along the way.
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- Get there when the park opens. It’s a popular place. Try to beat the crowds.
- It’s extremely hot and exposed. Wear desert attire and sunscreen. Take plenty of water.