Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada…

Last Tuesday, Greg’s 2 week Christmas break from basic training came to an end. After he flew out bright and early, we knew that we needed an activity to fill our day or else it would be filled by moping kids (and maybe a parent or two) saying,’if Greg were here…’ We needed something to fill our minds with something other than missing our favorite oldest son/brother!  We first noticed the signs for Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada (just north of Las Vegas), when we were driving through last year, but we really hadn’t given it much attention – we hadn’t heard anything about it, and figured from the surrounding landscape that it couldn’t be very interesting.

We were wrong.

Once everyone was up (Greg, Vaughn, Eli, and Joel left for the airport at 3:30 – the rest of us went back to bed!), we packed a lunch and hit the road for the short drive that led to the park. After turning off I-15, I wondered who would be the first to get car sick – the road was up and down and all-over-curvy… totally eratic. Then all of the sudden, we dropped down into a shallow canyon at the end of which was the entrance to the Valley of Fire State Park. Since it is a state park instead of a national park, we had to pay a $10 entrance fee. They gave us a window sticker and a map of the park (which was very helpful for deciding where to go in the park).

The colorful, interesting rock formations started just inside the boundary to the park…

As soon as we approached the first islands of rock jutting out of the ground, we knew that we had to get out and explore…
Eroded by the weather, these rocks were perfect for the littles to climb!
The little girls loved the freedom that they had on these rocks – they were sloped and pretty smooth – no jagged points. The rocks often had holes and cavities where some sandstone had worn away faster than the surrounding rock leaving caves and impressions that were calling to be explored…

The little girls climbed up to the above room and back down by themselves.

It was a beautiful day out – sunny without a hint of wind – warm enough to go without jackets, but not too hot… (I’m so NOT missing Montana winters!)
The hills were all calling to be explored! So many rocks, so little time!
Near Atlatl Rock, there is a parking area for those climbing the 3 or 4 story staircase up to the viewing platform that overlooks a rock wall with a series of petroglyphs etched on it. There is also a picnic area here that consists of a dozen covered tables, bathrooms (nasty – take the Clorox wipes! we did!), and water spigots that deliver wonderful tasting well water!
Here is the part of the park that the little girls liked the most –
the ground squirrels…
The little beggars would come and run under your table while you were sitting there eating hoping that you dropped some food. Peanut wasn’t even holding still (if you know Peanut, you know she pretty much can not hold still…)
Also in this area of the park are Valley of Fire’s 2 campgrounds.
I didn’t count how many sites there were, but there were quite a few. And they were very nice. Clean, with covered level sites, tent areas, and covered picnic tables. Even resident ground squirrels to keep you company, maybe even entertained.
In the larger of the 2 campgrounds were even wonderful, level, huge, RV sites! The regular sites, without electricity run $20/night, the electrical sites are reserved for RVs only, and cost $30/night. Both campgrounds are snuggly placed among the rocks. Very fun! – we would love to bring the RV back and camp here in the park!!!
After checking out the campgrounds, we drove through the park, stopping at the visitor’s center to look at the tarantula, scorpions, and various lizards that they have on display. Then we took the dead-end road up to White Dome. (which is not in the picture…) On the way we stopped at Fire Canyon…(none of the pictures do the park justice!)
and past/through Rainbow Vista…
After turning around at White Dome, we headed back down to Mouse’s Tank. Mouse’s Tank was named after a renegade Indian who hid out in the area while harassing locals in the late 1800s. The ‘Tank’ part is because the trail here leads to a natural basin which collects rainwater, sometimes retaining it for months at a time. The hike is only a half mile round trip. The terrain of the walk is in a canyon bottom and it is fairly flat, but it is also through sand – makes the walk seem longer… especially when you have to stop periodically to empty out your shoes.
This walk is an excellent chance to view petroglyphs – we were surprised at how many there were lining the canyon! Because the walk is through the bottom of a canyon, and we did it late afternoon, it was a little chilly out. But beautiful still. After our walk to Mouse’s Tank, we drove through the rest of the park, exiting out the western side. We drove back to Vegas via the Northshore Drive (NV 167), which takes you through part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. (if we had it to do again, or nex time… we would turn around and go back out the western entrance and down I-15)

NV167 was not a very pretty drive, but we did think that this valley was nice – maybe it was the red hue that bathed the entire valley as the sun went down…
Valley of Fire is one of our new favorite places! We loved how inviting it was, and the park is open for exploring – we saw only one sign asking visitor’s to stay off of a certain part of a rock formation to preserve the arch. It was such a beautiful area, bright with color, varying in terrain, and the park service has made it easy to access.
It’s just right for kiddos living in less than 400 sq ft that need to burn off a bit of energy (and need a little help getting over sad goodbyes)!
We had a fabulous day exploring the Valley of Fire state park. (well, apparently everyone except Peanut! LOL!)
It was the perfect distraction for us 😉

Lilla Rose

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  1. Valley of Fire is on my list for our journey back to Montana this spring. We’ve tried to get there twice before and missed it both times. Not far from there (if you ever go back) is Roos-n-More and the kids would love it. It’s an animal sanctuary (with lots of kangaroos)where you actually get to interact with the animals. I was so thrilled to be able to pet a baby zebra, and a porcupine, hold a Macaw and play with Roos. I didn’t want to leave.

    That is a great picture of the family.

  2. Oh, I cannot WAIT to get on the road this year!! We used to live in Nevada and spent many days hiking Red Rock Canyon and The Valley of Fire. I so miss the great beauty of that area. We will definitely be back there this fall.

    What an amazing family picture!

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