Las Vegas, NV

6 amazing things to do in the Valley of Fire, near Las Vegas

RobinTuck

Las Vegas is full of incredible and unique things to do, but, being a lover of all things outdoors and natural, there is one place that stands out for me above all else; the Valley of Fire.

It's a state park located less than an hour from the strip, and quite honestly, it should be the top of your Vegas bucketlist. I've never been anywhere quite like it. One minute you're driving through arid desert scenery, with miles and miles of scrubland and dusty roads, seemingly in every direction. The next, you've been transported to another planet (if I had to guess, I'd probably say Mars), with bright, brick red rock suddenly rising out of the ground like a crashed spaceship.

Its sudden appearence is as bizarre as it is beautiful, but it absolutely begs to be explored. And let me tell you, it is well worth checking out. The Valley of Fire is not only stunningly beautiful, but it also contains thousands of years of history, and was an important home for the Basket Maker people and the Anasazi Pueblo farmers that lived in the area.

Here are some of the top things to see in the Valley of Fire, and why I absolutely love this place so much!

1. Mouses Tank Road

This isn't so much a specific attraction as simply a road that runs straight through the middle of the Valley of Fire. It's a truly iconic spot with possibly the most dramatic view of the entire park. It's a great place to watch sunrise or sunset, and it's particularly popular with photographers.

This is also a great area to explore on foot, as there are a number of trails that disappear off into the rocks beyond. There are also several picnic areas to sit and enjoy the scenery.

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If you are going to explore the area, be extremely careful of the wildlife. Make sure you stomp your feet and make your presence known. I nearly walked straight into a rattle snake last time!

2. The Fire Wave

This is another absolutely iconic sight in the Valley of Fire, and is a short walk through the desert. The final destination here is a swirling, patterned rock that's been eroded over thousands of years to appear like a kind of orange wave.

This is a really popular spot so don't be surprised if there are quite a few people exploring, but even so, make sure you have a good grasp on where you're heading, because there are very few landmarks on this trail and it could be easy to make a wrong turn and get lost in the desert.

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I would also advise against doing this hike during the hot summer months. Even though the trail is extremely short, it gets unfathomably hot, and there is absolutely no shelter whatsoever. I would advise hiking this early in the morning or closer to sunset, or in a cooler season!

3. Atlatl Rock

This is one of the culturally and historically significant spots in the Valley of Fire, and is home to some of the early petroglyphs from the Native American people that lived here thousands of years ago. The petroglyphs that you'll find on Atlatl Rock are over 4,000 years old, and depict various animals, people and symbols. You can find them by climbing the handy metal staircase up the edge of the rock.

In case you were wondering, Atlatl Rock is named after the Atlatl, a type of indigenous throwing weapon that's used to add extra force to an object as it's launched.

4. Rainbow Vista Trail

The Rainbow Vista Trail is a popular 1.0 mile walk through the desert in Valley of Fire, that showcases a variety of different coloured rocks (hence the name). Although perhaps it's a little ambitious to say that the Rainbow Vista truly shows off all the colours of the rainbow, it is a wonderful and unusual view to behold that does actually contain a surprisingly large variety of rock types and colours.

It's probably fair to say that the best view of the Rainbow Vista Trail comes relatively close to the beginning, but if you've made it all the way out here, you really might as well enjoy the trails as much as possible!

5. Elephant Rock

Elephant Rock is exactly what it sounds like; a rock that's shaped like an elephant! You might have to look hard to find it, but once you set eyes on it, there's no mistaking why it's named the way it is.

You'll find Elephant Rock right next to the East entrance of Valley of Fire, and at 0.3 miles, it's probably one of the shortest and easiest adventures you'll find here!

6. Arch Rock

Much like Arches National Park in Utah, wherever you get sandstone, you tend to get rock arches!

Arch Rock is Valley of Fire's rock arch, and although it's very well signposted, you may not immediately notice it. Generally speaking, photos of Arch Rock might have you thinking that the arch is enormous, but actually it's unexpectedly tiny! We almost missed it the first time we visited because we were looking for something ten times bigger!

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A few tips for the Valley of Fire

As I mentioned earlier, I would highly recommend visiting Valley of fire a little earlier or later in the day to avoid the sweltering desert sun. Always pack plenty of water and sun protection too, because this is the desert and it can get REALLY hot here. Easily 115F in the summer!

There are also a few wifi spots dotted around the park, which you might find helpful if you're trying to find a certain part of the park with your map app but lost cell service. You are in the middle of nowhere after all!

Final Thoughts

There are one or two other places worth checking out in the Valley of Fire, but these are the major sights. You can probably do the vast majority of this list in a single visit, but if you're like us, and you like visiting Las Vegas, you'll probably find yourself back here time and time again!

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I’m a travel and outdoor adventure writer with a passion for exploring and discovering new things. My mission is to push more people out of their comfort zones and off their couches and inspire travel.

Tualatin, OR
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