Overton, NV

When Reflecting Sun Rays Create a Valley of Fire

Anne Bonfert

Valley of FireJannes Glas/ Unsplash

Nevada. A state full of surprises and breathtaking sceneries. A road trip through the vastness of the country will leave you speechless. Winding roads through the mountains and straight-lined highways continuing up to the horizon. You'll find it all.

In a country where the heat sometimes becomes unbearable, the sun doesn't just burn your skin but creates some interesting lights on rock formations. The red sandstone formations of the Valley of Fire get lit up by the sun and when those reflections appear the rocks appear to be on fire. This Aztec Sandstone is beautiful just as it is but when the sun comes in and paints some more than this landscape really starts to shine.

The Valley of Fire State Park has been designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1968 already. Ever since it is a popular public recreation area that preserves the nature in the park. It is just 16 miles south of Overton (50 miles northeast of Las Vegas) and includes almost 20,000 hectares of land. Bordering the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, one can visit it and afterward going for a cool down into Lake Mead.

The landscape had been created through complex lifting processes over thousands of years and extensive erosion formed finally those rock formations. The eroded sandstone and its surrounding sand dunes are estimated to be 150 million years old.

On the rough walls of the sandstone and other rock formations such as limestones and conglomerates, one can find rock art from prehistoric inhabitants of the Valley of Fire. The petroglyphs talk about hunting, food gathering, and religious ceremonies. The scarcity of water must have limited the stay of those inhabitants.

The climate in the Valley of Fire is dry and warm while the summer months can get unbearable hot with temperatures averaging above 100 °F. Storms bring occasionally some rain in winter and strong monsoon thunderstorms can cause heavy downpours in summer washing away roads and everything that gets in their way.

A selection of films had several shots and scenes being filmed in the Valley of Fire such as "Viva Las Vegas", "The Professionals", "Total Recall", and others. The landscape of the Valley of Fire is just so unique that even scenes from Mars were being filmed over here.

Hiking and rock climbing are popular activities in the park but one should avoid the beating midday sun. Rock climbing is allowed on designated rock walls in the park. Inquire at the visitors center if interested. Hiking paths lead you through the breathtaking landscape of the Valley of Fire. Bring plenty of water when going on a trip.

Camping in the park is possible on two campgrounds. No camping is allowed outside these areas. Campsites cannot be reserved, the rule of first-come, first-served is being followed. RV camping is available as well as group-use campsites. Other shaded areas are available in the park for day visitors and picnic tables together with restrooms can be found in the park.


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I am a traveler. Photographer. Writer. Teacher. Skydiving instructor. Adventure enthusiast. Nature lover. And fell in love with the African continent. My stories go around travel, nature and all kinds of adventurous activities.


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