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Valley of Fire

southern Nevada

An hour’s drive northeast of Las Vegas, this state park makes a restful daytrip from The Strip. True to its name, the Valley of Fire dazzles with color, particularly in shades of red, tan and gray. The “fire” is red Aztec sandstone, created by deposits from ancient inland seas that have eroded over millions of years. There’s evidence humans have been active in the area for 11,000 years. And if you stop at Atlatl Rock, a quick (but steep) climb up metal stairs leads to an outdoor gallery of petroglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years. In 1912, a rough road was built through the area connecting Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. Then, in 1934, Valley of Fire became Nevada’s first state park. This video essay follows the park’s main drag, Valley of Fire Highway, as well as White Domes Road: a side route that’s so amazing it has its own Wide Open Ride. Valley of Fire is one of the most naturally vivid places on earth, a fitting complement to the humanmade flamboyance of the gambling mecca just down the freeway.

Best Time to Visit

The park is extraordinary any time of year although summer afternoons are extremely hot so pack plenty of water. And bring food, too, as there are no nearby restaurants.

Keep in Mind

There’s an entrance fee, currently $10 per vehicle.

Route & Map      

Heading north on I-15 from Las Vegas, there are two ways to reach Valley of Fire. The first is the Valley of Fire Highway, exit 75. It’s the most direct approach, entering the park’s westside. If you have a bit more time, consider going 15 minutes farther north on I-15 to exit 93. This is the ride depicted in this story. Going south on NV 169, the route is actually a scenic byway called Moapa Valley Drive. It passes through the small town of Overton and curves toward Lake Mead before reaching the Valley of Fire Highway, entering the state park from the east. In Overton, the Lost City Museum is worth a visit. It depicts life along the nearby Muddy River when the Pueblo people inhabited villages in the area some 900 years ago. Then, put your toes in Lake Mead at Overton Beach. NV 169 and Valley of Fire Highway create a loop route from I-15 through the park. Don’t miss White Domes Road, the park’s other highway – and arguably more spectacular road – which heads north of Valley of Fire Highway midway through the park at the visitor center

Length

From I-15 and exit 93, it’s about 60 miles through the park and back to I-15 and exit 75, including stops in Overton and driving White Domes Road.

Time

From Las Vegas, plan on a full-day with stops, including a couple of short hikes.

Links

Nevada State Parks has useful information on Valley of Fire. And a site called hikespeak also has a good writeup on the park.

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