Dear Los Angelenos, Las Vegans, Southern Utahans and anyone else based in or visiting the surrounding area:
In case you didn’t know, you’ve got a colorful (well, largely red and orange) array of beautiful National and State Parks clustered together in a relatively condensed area. Yosemite, The Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon, Death Valley and plenty more are some of the most renowned parks in the States- and they are ALL within a day’s drive from those major Southwestern cities. Amidst all of these National Parks is a number of smaller State Parks, each uniquely special and more commonly overlooked.
This post will spotlight one really awesome spot: Valley of Fire State Park.
Located a quick hour drive from Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park offers refuge from the bustling Vegas strip. Even if you’re not keen on hiking or spending much time outdoors, Valley of Fire is worth the escape from the city and offers a unique perspective of the Nevada desert. There are a ton of designated scenic spots right off the main road for tourists’ viewing pleasure. A mere 50 ft. walk at most of these pullouts will get you where you need to go to see distinctive Martian-like landscapes.
Elephant Rock is a good example of this. It’s the first landmark you come across, just .2 miles in from the East entrance to the park. You can view it from the comfort of your air conditioned car, or you can take a 5 minute walk to view it up-close. Valley of Fire is full of scenic locations like this, good for either quick viewing or less-quick-but-still-pretty-quick viewing. 😛
If you are interested in hiking, think about going in the early morning or later in the evening. In the heat of the day, the sun can be intense. Plus, there are usually less people crowding the scenic areas during those times.
There are a number of hikes throughout the park, most of which are fairly short in length. Our favorite must-do hike every time we are in the Park is Fire Rock- or, as we like to call it, “Bacon Rock”. Round trip, the distance adds up to about 3 mi., and the sight you get to behold is well worth the walk.
Camping here is a good idea. Vehicles are charged an entrance fee of $10 no matter what, but if you decide to camp, the entrance fee is included with the campsite for a total of $20. The campgrounds are first come, first serve, so be sure to stop and stake your claim at one of the two campgrounds before you head onto the rest of the park. Both times, we’ve stayed at Atlatl campground. Each and every site is a bit different, and most of them butt right up to big rock formations. If possible, snag a site that does because they offer the most shade on a hot day and you can climb right up ‘em for a primo sunset viewing spot.
Banana chocolate chunk pancakes are a good idea, too. But, like, when aren’t they?
If you live in the area or are planning a trip to Vegas, do yourself a favor and go to Valley of Fire. You’ll thank yourself for taking the time to check out a classically Southwestern scene, and your wallet will thank you for taking a break from the slot machines.