Visiting Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada (Beehives, Petroglyphs & Big Horn Sheep)

Valley of Fire State Park has been on my list of places to visit for about the last few years. I saw a picture of it online while researching a trip and knew I wanted to go when I would be in the area in a future. Fast forward a few years and on our Southwest Road Trip, I was able to finally visit!

History:

Valley of Fire State Park was Nevada’s first state park and is the largest park in the state. But before it was ever a designated park, it’s been home to people for 4,000 years. It was where Native Americans lived and used the land for hunting, ceremonies, and farming. On the Mouse’s Tank Hike mentioned below, you can see petroglyphs from those who lived here.

Getting There:

The park is located about 45 minutes northeast of Las Vegas, 30 minutes from Lake Mead, and just 2 hours to Zion National Park.

Admission & Hours:

  • Open sunrise to sunset daily. Campgrounds have 24 hour access
  • Admission is $10 for NV vehicles and $15 for out of state vehicles

Hiking:

Hiking here in the summer is not recommended because of the high temperatures of 100-120 degrees Fahrenheit. They even close some parts of the park in the summer because it’s not a good idea, even on short hikes. We visited during February which was ideal for hiking.

There’s quite a few short hikes in the park all under 2 miles or so. We only did the first hike below and then checked out a few scenic viewpoints.

  • Mouse’s Tank Trail (.75 Miles Out & Back). This is the only real trail we followed in the park. There’s petroglyphs along the way which we loved looking at. It’s not a long trail, but because it’s over loose sand, it takes a little more effort than a paved trail.
  • Rainbow Vista (1 mile) with great views at the end.
  • Fire Wave/Seven Wonders Trail (1.8 miles) shows canyons and other rock formations.
  • White Domes (1.1 Mile Loop) over loose sand and this one has a slot canyon. When we return to the park on a future trip, this is one I definitely want to do.

Scenic Driving

One of our favorite things to do in the park was just drive and look out the windows. Because the state park is so large, there’s so many different areas to see. We entered from the east side since we were coming from two days in Zion National Park as part of our 12 Day Southwest Roadtrip.

We took Valley of Fire Road by the Visitor Center and a few hiking trails to White Domes Road which is 11 miles out and back. This road has the Fire Canyon Overlook which gives beautiful views of the park. There’s also a few hiking trails and Petroglyphs. This is also the road that is the most photographed on Instagram because of the curve of the road looking through the red rock formations.

After exploring on White Domes Road, we turned back onto Valley of Fire Road and headed west. One of my favorite parts of the park were the Beehives. These sandstone formations are from different layers of silt that were deposited at various points throughout history. The shape they now have truly looks like a weathered beehive and were such unique formations.

Wildlife:

There’s a variety of wildlife in the park. There’s iguanas, lizards, snakes, and tortoise. For larger animals, there’s foxes, coyotes, jackrabbits and big horned sheep. We were most excited to hopefully spot big horned sheep along our route. It wasn’t until the end of the scenic drive on the west side of the park that we were finally able to spot them.

Tips for Visiting:

  • The best time of year in the late fall, winter, or early spring before it gets too hot. Summer is not an ideal time to visit the park. The Fire Wave/Seven Wonders closes due to high temperatures from June 1 – September 30.
  • We didn’t have service in the park, so be prepared and download a map ahead of time so you know where you’re headed.
  • There’s camping available in the park with about 70 or so sites.
  • You can bring your pets but must keep them on a leash.
  • No drones are allowed to be used in the park.

This park was incredible. The colors of the red rocks against the mountain landscape in the background with dark blues and grays was such a contrast. When you mix in the color of the sand and sky, it was just such a beautiful scene. This is a park I absolutely plan to return to in the future since it’s just so unique.

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