I saw a lot of gorgeous scenery in about six hours at Valley of Fire
today and was so impressed, I want to go back and show it to Jim. He
opted out of today's trip, unaware of all the treasures that await in
this park on a sunny spring day.
The Arch Rock Campground is
nestled among towering red rock formations.
I took a whopping 556 pictures while in the park today and edited out
only about 50 of them!
I know I can't show most of them here but this entry will still be
several pages long so I can show a fair representation of the rock
formations, trails, ancient rock art, flowers, visitor center, stone cabins, and
campgrounds I saw while hiking on several trails and driving all the
roads in the park.
WHERE'S THE FIRE?
The Valley of Fire derives its name from all the red sandstone
formations found here that were large shifting sand dunes back in
the age of dinosaurs.
Where exposed, we see a variety of interesting red rock formations in
the current landscape that have been eroded by weather conditions (wind,
water, freezing/thawing), chemical reactions, and gravity for over 150
million years -- smooth rock, jagged rock, domes, weird shapes,
stripes, layers, arches, holes, and more:
White Domes Road
White Domes Trail
Scenic Loop Road near the Arches
Petroglyph AKA Mouse's Tank Trail
Fire Wave Trail: Beam me
Many of the features show the layers and cross-bedded patterns of the
original dunes. The best examples I saw were along White Domes Road:
Additional colors come from limestone, shale, and conglomerates;
some are light, some dark. White Domes Road and White Domes Trail
feature some gorgeous pastel rock colors:
Some of the rocks have darker "desert varnish" on them:
The next three illustrations from an interpretive sign at one of the
overlooks along White Domes Road explain how some
of the rock features were formed:
OK, that's today's geology lesson! I enjoy the terrain more when I
know how it formed over the eons.
MORE ABOUT THE PARK
It was hot again -- upper 80s, which is well above normal for
this date -- so I got an early start this morning from our RV park at Nellis
AFB. It helps that the base is in North Las Vegas, because it was a
shorter drive than leaving from the downtown area where many visitors
stay. It's a 50+-mile drive north and east from the Vegas Strip.
I left our campground at 7:10 AM and it took about 45 minutes to
get to the west gate of the park. I drove the shortest way north from
Nellis to reach I-15 at exit 58. I got off the freeway at exit 75 and
drove east on Valley of Fire Road AKA State Route 169.
This is a narrow two-lane paved road that undulates through washes, then
climbs into mountains, for 12 miles before it reaches the park's west
gate. I didn't see much red rock until I got into the park.
Above and below: There is a long, scenic -- but not red --
downhill drive through a canyon to the west entrance station.
No one was manning the gate yet so I filled out a self check-in envelope at
the kiosk. The cost for non-residents is $10 per vehicle ($2 less for
NV residents). I got my money's worth and more.
Then I continued east for six or seven miles to White Domes Road. From
all that I had read and heard about this park the Fire
Wave formation was my #1 priority to see, and I wanted to get there
early to take photos with few or no other people around.
The park map is too large to copy here. This is a
link to the map on the official state park website.
One of the "beehive" formations on the west side of
Although the park website and maps don't identify the trailhead for Fire Wave
-- and the visitor center wasn't open yet when I arrived -- I was able
to find out where to park from a local fella.
It's the third parking area on the left side as
you're heading north on White Domes Road, about half a mile before the
well-marked White Domes trailhead at the end of the road.
Red rocks and yellow creosote bush near the visitor center
FANTASY OF COLOR ALONG WHITE DOMES ROAD
There is a lot more spectacular scenery along White Domes Road than
just the namesake white domes!
White domes and more
Just past the visitor center White Domes Road ascends through tall rock
formations. Most of the rest of the road is more open, with expansive
views in every direction.
Above and below: Ascent past the visitor
This hilly, paved road
runs north-south and has more fabulous scenery and trails along its 5.5-mile length
than the longer Valley of Fire Road that stretches east to west across
the southern part of the park.
After the visitor center and an ascent of a long hill (two pictures
above), the road undulates past several parking areas for trails and
viewpoints before it dead ends at the White Domes
trailhead. I hiked the Fire Wave, White Domes, and Petroglyph/Mouse's
Tank trails during the morning while it was still relatively cool.
I took the photos in this section both outbound and on the return,
most while driving and some while pulled over at the Fire Canyon and
Rainbow Vista overlooks:
Above and below: undulating road through the
colorful rock scenery; drive slowly to enjoy it!
Above and below: pretty pastel views from
Above and below: pretty purples and pinks
Purple swirls among the cream and salmon colors
compliments the orange-ish colors and some of the cloud patterns are
Continued on the next page: We've only just begun! Let's go
hike to the Fire Wave formations . . .
Fire Canyon has more of the dark red rocks.
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2016 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil