LOOKING FOR THE BEST HIKES IN VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK?
Looking for some epic hiking trails near Las Vegas? Consider checking out the Valley of Fire State Park which has some of the best hikes in the area.
11 Hikes in Valley of Fire State Park: An Overview
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the best hikes in Valley of Fire, here’s an overview of all the trails we’re going to talk about in this blog post.
11 Best Hikes in Valley of Fire State Park
This post will cover everything you need to know about the Valley of Fire State Park, including information on the park, the ideal time to visit, and of course – the best hikes the park offers.
Let’s dive in!
Keep in mind that a lot of these trails are fairly short distances, but it’s relatively easy to combine multiple trails in order to make your route longer. Dylan and I personally combined the Fire Wave, Pink Canyon, and White Domes trails together to see all of the attractions that interested us most.
Fire Wave is one of the most popular hikes in Valley of Fire State Park. The famous landmark looks like – you guessed it – a ginormous rock formation that looks like a wave made of fire. You’ll start your trek from parking lot #3 off of White Domes Road to find the marked trailhead.
The beginning of the trail is pretty sandy until you reach the cliff wall face. You’ll then turn right where the trail becomes much rockier. Follow the trail markers past Gibraltar Rock, and the infamous landmark will await you at the bottom of the hill.
The White Domes trail is fascinating because the views differ with every turn you make. At one point in the trail, you’ll experience the breathtaking sandstone formations, and at another, you’ll wind through the narrow canyons. This is one of the best trails to experience the variety of landscapes at the Valley of Fire.
Start your trip from the beginning of the parking lot and begin on the sandy trail between tall sandstone rocks. Hike to the ruins of a stone wall from a 1965 movie production. Continue on by weaving through the tight slot canyon walls and navigating through sandstone arches to return to the parking lot.
Mouse’s Tank is known for its petroglyphs and two potholes. Take White Domes Road until you reach Mouse’s Tank trailhead and picnic area. On this trail, you’ll steer through a shallow canyon on sandy terrain.
Keep an eye out on this short hike, because petroglyphs will be scattered across the rocks! Many contain geometric designs, hand prints, and drawings on the weathered black patina. At the end of the trail, look out the large open sandy area to view the two tanks.
Pinnacles Loop Trail is one of the better long hikes in Valley of Fire because the pinnacles in the distance keep you excited the entire way. From the west entrance, this trailhead is located across from the parking area at Atlantl Rock. Keep your eye out, because it’s easy to miss!
The trail begins by trekking the sandy, flat desert floor which has a handful of trail markers to keep you on track. Once you approach the pinnacles, you’ll be directed around the tall, sporadic rock formations to take in their natural beauty. Once you’ve seen the entirety of the pinnacles, you’ll begin hiking back toward Atlantl Rock.
Pastel (Pink) Canyon
Pink Canyon is a hidden gem because it’s not technically listed as a trail on any map. The trailhead however is a small footpath located between Fire Canyon Road and parking lot #3 for Fire Wave. There is a small pullout spot that only a few cars can park at.
As you begin your hike, canyon walls emerge and you’ll immediately understand why this unmarked trail is called “Pink Canyon.” The sandstone walls make up vibrant pink, yellow, and orange colors for miles at a time. Follow this gorgeous canyon for as long as you’d like, but make sure not to get lost.
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As one of the longest hikes in Valley of Fire, this trail is one of the best for experiencing the park’s rock diversity in its varying shapes and colors. Keep in mind that this trail is not well marked or maintained, so it’s important to arrive prepared if you’re hoping to complete this hike. As an alternative, you could prepare to be picked up on one end or another to complete the trail one way.
The first two miles consist of following along a dirt road, followed by an additional two miles in a wash. After about 4 miles, you’ll begin to climb up and over rock faces to continue your hike through another wash. This hike is great for experienced hikers who want to see the most during their time at Valley of Fire.
Charlie’s Spring is another unmarked long hike through a wash, but it’s worth it for hikers who love natural discoveries. This trailhead appears just before Elephant Rock Loop, but you’ll need to be on the lookout since there isn’t a sign for it. This trail shares the same trailhead as the Natural Arches Trail.
This trail begins by passing through a tube under the highway, followed by walking along the desert wash. As a pleasant surprise, the trail turns into an awe-striking red rock canyon that requires a brief rock scramble. Soon, you’ll reach the end point of this trail at Charlie’s Spring where the creek invites different wildlife and plant life to flourish.
Rainbow Vista is an excellent trail to take if you’re looking to see Fire Canyon during your trip. This trail is named for the myriad of colors that line the rock faces in the area. Take White Dome Road until you reach a parking area to your right for Rainbow Vista trailhead.
From the trailhead, take the adequately marked path west and remain to the right. Shortly after you begin, you’ll reach the Fire Canyon junction which I’d highly recommend adding to your trip. Check out the viewpoint that overlooks Fire Canyon before heading back to complete the trail.
Arguably one of the best hikes in the Valley of Fire, Elephant Rock is one of the most famous rock formations within the park. Access this trailhead near the east entrance of the park. Plan to arrive early though, because finding a parking spot here can be particularly tough!
Begin your hike by following the trail towards Elephant Rock. See the intriguing rock formations and continue along your way through the sand to experience additional interesting formations. Extend your hike by taking Arrowhead Trail, or continue on to complete the loop.
Natural Arches Trail
As another hike on the eastern side of Valley of Fire, Natural Arches is arguably a less traveled trail. This trailhead is unmarked, so pay close attention. You’ll find an unpaved parking area for this trailhead right before Elephant Rock Loop.
Travel through Fire Canyon, explore numerous arches, and see balancing rocks along the way. Continue on towards Silica Dome to see the fantastic red and white swirled sandstone on this route. This is a great trail to see a majority of the popular landmarks in the area.
Old Arrowhead Road
Hike through history on the Old Arrowhead Road that was built in 1912 to reach the Las Vegas Valley. To reach Old Arrowhead Road, you’ll find a parking lot a half mile from the western entrance. The trail is not maintained well, so continue looking for the trail markers to stay on track.
This trail travels mainly on gravel traveling from west to east. This route is great for checking out the mountain systems that surround the park, with sights of the Overton Arm of Lake Mead. If you’re lucky, you may even spot some bighorn sheep during your voyage.
Other Attractions in Valley of Fire State Park
About the Valley of Fire State Park
The Valley of Fire State Park is a public outdoor recreation and nature preservation area. It consists of almost 46,000 acres of land. The park’s name reflects the beautiful red Aztec sandstone formations that were formed in the area from moving sand dunes over 150 million years ago.
Before we jump right into all of the best hikes in Valley of Fire State Park, let’s cover all our bases. This section will cover everything you need to know before your trip to Valley of Fire, including the park’s location, entrance fees, facilities, and more.
Valley of Fire State Park is located in the Mojave desert about 58 miles north of the Las Vegas strip and 16 miles south of Overton, Nevada. From Vegas, it’s about an hour’s drive to reach the visitor’s center. The park also neighbors Lake Mead National Recreation Area from the east entrance.
Entering the Park
To reach Valley of Fire from Las Vegas, take 1-15 North for about 35-40 miles. Then take Exit 75 for 17 miles to reach the West Entrance.
To take the scenic route, continue onto 1-15 North until you reach Lake Mead Boulevard. Take a right to head East on NV-166, and then another right onto NV-167. Take Northshore Drive until you reach the east entrance.
Once you reach an entrance station, you’ll be required to pay a fee at the booth or a self-pay station. Prices are $10 per vehicle or $8 per vehicle for a Nevada resident. You can also purchase an annual entrance permit for $75.
The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset but is closed on Christmas Day.
Park Facilities & Amenities
The Valley of Fire State Park has one visitor center located in the middle of the park which is open from 9 am to 4 pm daily. Inside you can find geology, ecology, and history exhibits of the surrounding area. Buy some gifts or souvenirs from your trip at the gift shop located inside!
In addition to the visitor center, this Nevada state park also offers picnic and group areas for recreational use. Picnic areas are located at Atlantl Rock, the Cabins, Seven Sisters, White Domes, and near Mouse’s Tank Trailhead. There are three group sites that can host up to 45 people – Call 702-397-2088 to learn more and make your reservations.
Tips for Completing the Best Hikes in the Valley of Fire
Now that you’ve got an idea of some of the best hikes in Valley of Fire State Park, let’s consider some of the important preparations to take before you go.
What to Pack
Your packing list will vary depending on whether you’re taking a day trip or if you’re going to utilize one of the park’s campgrounds. However, there are some key things you’ll want to make sure that you bring with you during your stay.
- ADEQUATE WATER CAPACITY. I can’t stress this enough. Nevada and the Mojave desert have extremely hot and dry environments which can make hikers more susceptible to dehydration. Whenever you hike in the desert, you want to make sure that you have more than enough water with you at all times. This means packing at the very least one liter of water with you for every two hours you’ll be outside hiking.
- STURDY AND RELIABLE SHOES. The landscape at Valley of Fire is extremely sandy with very uneven terrain. Flip-flops will be your enemy at this state park. Make sure you’ve got some durable and reliable shoes to experience the park comfortably.
- SUN PROTECTION. In addition to adequate water, you’ll want to protect yourself from the intense Nevadan sunrays. Make sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a sun hat or ballcap to prevent painful sunburn during your visit.
When to Visit
The best time to visit the Valley of Fire State Park is late Fall, early Spring, or during the winter months. It’s recommended to visit anytime between November – March.
Summertime in the Mojave desert can get extremely hot which can make exploring this park far less enjoyable. Temperatures are milder during the winter months, however, you may experience chilly winds during this season. Pink Canyon is not accessible after heavy rains.
Other Information on Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire offers both RV and traditional camping sites in the park. There are two campgrounds, equaling a total of 72 sites throughout the park. All campsites are on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Campsites include shaded picnic tables, grills, restroom facilities, and potable water. A dump station and showers are available for campers. Power and water hookups are also available for RV sites.
Booking a campsite costs $20 per night, with an additional $10 fee for utility hookups. If you’re a Nevada resident, you get a $2 discount on your booking. Fees can be paid at the campground.
There is plenty of wildlife in the Mojave desert, though most species are nocturnal and therefore rare to see. However, depending on the time of the year, you may catch a glimpse of wildlife during your stay if you’re lucky!
Some wildlife that can be found in Valley of Fire consists of bighorn sheep, coyotes, badgers, squirrels, rattlesnakes, lizards, ravens, jackrabbits, foxes, and desert tortoises. Dylan and I visited during January and were fortunate enough to see some bighorn sheep near the visitor’s center!
The amount of time you decide to spend in Valley of Fire is completely up to you. After visiting the park myself, I truly believe you could see the majority of the park within a full day. If you’d rather try and get to know the park a little better, a weekend camping trip is a great option to see the entire park while taking advantage of the cheap camping fees.
Wrapping Up: 11 Best Hikes in the Valley of Fire State Park
There you have it – 11 of the best hikes in the Valley of Fire State Park. Whether you’re visiting for a day or the weekend, there are plenty of attractions to see during your visit. Make sure to check out the visitors center to receive information on the location’s geological history!