Valley of Fire State Park Day Trip

This state park is as cool (or flaming) as its name. Just a little over an hour away from the Strip, the Valley of Fire State Park makes for a great day trip that is dog friendly and is packed with attractions and hikes. Be prepared to pay a $10 entrance fee, and you may not use your National Parks pass unfortunately. The park is open from sunrise to sunset.

Visitor’s Center

I never used to head to the visitor’s center of any state or national park I visit but I’ve changed my ways. Like the National Park system, the Nevada State Parks have stamps that you can collect – plus they give you a free booklet for their passport challenge! If you get all 15 stamps, then you receive a free annual pass to all the state parks. I brought my own little National Parks book and got the stamp in there instead to keep everything in one place. Unlike the National Park stamps though, these are not dated.

The visitor’s center also has some handy signs that tell you what to do in the park if you have 2 hours, half a day, or a full day. The workers there are also very friendly, and eager to give advice!

Atlatl Rock

This rock is one of the first few attractions when you come in through the west entrance. This “trail” is really just a long row of stairs leading up to some Native American rock art. These petroglyphs, over 4000 years old, were carved into the outer redder layer of rock, which makes the art easier to see the orange beneath it.

Mouse’s Tank Road

This is the most famous path that all instagrammers flock to get their photos, but I couldn’t get to the one spot that keeps popping up on my insta. But, the curvy road with a surreal backdrop makes for a great picture! Most of the main attractions are just on the side of this main road.

Pink (Pastel) Canyon

Other blogs I’ve read said this place was not well-known… longer. It’s on Google Maps so I don’t see why it would still be considered a hidden gem. But I used these coordinates to map the way there: 36°28’47” N 114°31’36” W and it’s on the other side of the road where the pin drop is. Pictures don’t do it justice, but it can be just a bit underwhelming too. It’s pretty, but I got the feeling that I saw one, I saw them all.

Fire Wave

Similar to The Wave in Arizona, the Fire Wave is a big attraction at this state park. I clocked in at around 1.4 miles roundtrip. Since I went during the hottest part of the day, Maddie and I were sweltering. There’s absolutely no shade at all except for one second under a towering rock formation near the beginning, so definitely wear a hat and sunscreen. Maddie was such a champ! My parents hung back towards the end as they didn’t want to go further downhill, but Maddie followed me willingly. We saw some desert bighorn sheep, which kept gazing curiously at Maddie while she was whining in her desire to sniff them.

White Domes Trail

We actually didn’t hike this trail because we were so exhausted from the heat during the Fire Wave hike and overall fatigue from lack of sleep and an early morning start. I’m sure it would have been amazing, but here is Maddie about 0.2 miles in, resting in the sand because she’d had enough exercise for the week.

Elephant Rock

This is the only attraction listed here that’s not along the Mouse’s Tank Road. Instead, you drive past the left that you make to get to the visitor’s center and keep going for about 5-10 minutes until you reach the west entrance to the park. There, you can step off the road and hike the short distance to get to this rock formation. You can also see the elephant rock from the road but you’re not supposed to stop the car.

And that’s it for us!

We left the park earlier than intended because of how tired we were to do anything else, plus we left Death Valley National Park once during sunset and it was a miserably dark drive back to our hotel. So to avoid this experience again, we didn’t stay for golden hour. I would definitely come back to the Valley of Fire in the future, probably earlier for sunrise, probably not with my parents (whose stamina don’t quite match mine), definitely more well-rested, and prepared to find that one most instagrammable spot along Mouse’s Tank Road.

xx Sam

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