On the drive from Las Vegas to Zion National Park, there is a little jewel of a state park called Valley of Fire. This is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park and well worth a visit. The entry fee for a non-resident vehicle was only $15.00.
We entered the west entrance on Valley of the Fire Road and enjoyed many of the sights on the drive in. After a stop at the Visitor Center to get our bearings, grab a map and formulate a plan, we were on our way. The drive through the park was actually a loop so it was easy to see everything and make stops from the main road.
One thing that instantly stood out on our drive in the park were all the colorful flowers. Who knew that there would be so many desert plants in full bloom? We also spotted lizards, hummingbirds and chipmunks along many of the trails and rocks. Very interesting flora and fauna!
The landscape and rock formations throughout Valley of the Fire were quite unique. Each scenic mile we drove into the park differed from the last. The limestone and sandstone colors ranged from light beige to chocolate brown with a lot of yellows, pinks and oranges in between – a virtual rainbow of sorts.
This part of Nevada was once covered by a prehistoric sea before this particular area became covered with sand dunes during the age of dinosaurs 150 million years ago. Water and wind erosion shaped the landscape into what we see today.
Native Americans lived here hundreds of years ago (AD 500 – 1100), as evidenced by their petroglyphs, found throughout the park. During this time, the climate turned quite harsh, drought set in and many relocated to survive. The area didn’t become popular again until the early 1900s after travelers discovered this remote wonderland filled with strange but colorful rock formations.
As we drove through the park, we noted that some of the rock formations were spiky and rough while many appeared to be “melting and runny.” There was variety around every turn and the landscape changed drastically. There were balanced rocks, arches, petrified logs, canyons, overlooks, domes and cliffs. The park got its name, Valley of Fire, from the evening “glow” many of the red rock formations have at sunset. It was an unworldly and very unusual landscape and I could easily picture Sci-fi movies being filmed here.
I highly recommend a stop at this park on the way to/from Zion, Las Vegas, Lake Mead or Hoover Dam. We spent around two hours here and I wish we had had more time to hike some of the trails and had been more prepared to do so. I still have no regrets doing mostly a “car” tour and we got to see many beautiful sights. Two thumbs up!