Some years ago we spent a night in Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. We would have loved to stay longer, but we were on our way to a volunteer position in Utah so promised ourselves we would visit again in the future.
We hiked two different trails during our short visit. The longest was Mouse’s Tank. It is named this after a Southern Paiute Indian (Little Mouse) who used Valley of Fire as a hideout in the 1890’s after he was accused of killing two prospectors and other crimes in the area. It is a natural basin in the rock where water collects after each rainfall. A half-mile round trip trail leads to Mouse’s Tank from the trailhead parking area. There are excellent examples of prehistoric petroglyphs on the trail.
The other trail that we hiked was the White Domes Trail. This trail is a 1.1-mile loop with towering rock formations, tight slot canyons, picturesque desert landscapes and there are even some leftover movie props you can see along the trail. The drive to reach the hike is the best in the park and takes you through incredible scenery. It is worth the drive out to the trailhead just to see the beautiful vistas and rock formations.
Valley of Fire is located in the Mojave Desert approximately 58 miles Northeast of the Las Vegas Strip at an elevation between 2,000–2,600 feet. It abuts the Lake Mead National Recreation Area on the east at the Virgin River confluence. It lies in a four by six mile basin.
Valley of Fire is the oldest Nevada State Park and was dedicated in 1935. Valley of Fire State Park covers an area of approximately 42,000 acres and was named for the magnificent red sandstone formations (Aztec Sandstone) that are located within the park. The formations were formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of the dinosaurs more than 150 million years ago.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset unless camping in campgrounds or group camping area. After sunset, activity is limited to those areas. Pets are welcome, but they must be kept on a leash of not more than six feet in length. They are not allowed in the visitor center.
Interesting things to see while visiting include 3000-year old petroglyphs, petrified wood and a visitors center with beautiful interpretive displays. The visitor center provides exhibits on the geology, ecology, prehistory, and history of the park and the nearby region. There are numerous hikes in the park as well as vistas easily available from the road. Information about these hikes and vistas are available at the visitors center.
There are two campgrounds and as well as 3 group sites. All campsites are first-come, first-serve. Campsites are equipped with shaded tables, grills, water, and restrooms. A dump station and showers are available. A camping limit of 14 days in a 30-day period is enforced. We spent the night in Atlatl Campground and were almost alone. There was only one other camper when we were there (March)
How to Get There
The park is accessed by the Valley of Fire Highway through the Moapa Indian Reservation from Interstate 15 to the west and from Nevada State Route 169 on the east side of the park south of Overton.