The Valley of Fire Lights Up the Southern Nevada Desert… Views Along the Main Road

Balanced Rock at Valley of Fire State Park in Southern Nevada.

Wonderful rock sculptures created by erosion, such as this balanced rock, are found throughout the Valley of Fire State Park. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

 

I put my blog on hold this past week as Peggy and I, along with our friends Ken and Leslie Lake, visited Las Vegas to celebrate Leslie and my birthdays, which are both the first week in March. We’ve been celebrating together for 13 years and try to go somewhere different each time. I know I’ve put off a few promised blogs, but hopefully you will find the detour worthwhile!

 

The vast majority of visitors flock to Las Vegas for its renowned shows, fine dining, glitter and gambling. (Nevada prefers ‘gaming,’ but hey, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…) Few come to enjoy the natural beauty of the area— or are even aware of it, which is too bad. Some of the nation’s best desert scenery is within easy driving distance. A day’s trip can take you through Death Valley. A half-day will provide an overview of the Valley of Fire. And a couple of hours will introduce you to Red Rock Canyon.

Peggy and I always try to visit at least one of these areas when we are near Vegas. This time we worked in the Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon. In fact, Red Rock Canyon was 15 minutes away from where we were staying. I’ve blogged about these parks before, but they are always worth blogging about again. And again.

Today I will feature our visit to the Valley of Fire State Park, which is located about 50-miles northeast of Las Vegas off of Interstate 15. The park takes its name from red sandstone that can turn a fiery red in sunlight. The sandstone was laid down by sand dunes some 150 million years ago. Geological forces have turned the region into a magical kingdom of rock forms. There are also several petroglyph sites left behind by the ancient Anasazi between 300 BC and 1150 AD.

As a result of the natural beauty, interesting rock forms, and native rock art, our cameras were busy the whole trip. Following are some of the results. To allow for more photos, I am going to break this post into three parts: views along the main road, the Atlatl Rock area, and the White Domes area.

While the road into the Valley of Fire State Park provides dramatic views, it doesn't provide a clue for what you are about to see.

While the road into the Valley of Fire State Park provides dramatic views, it doesn’t provide a clue for what you are about to see. The first sight is just around the corner…

Introductory view of the Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas.

Your first view of the red sandstone rocks provides a preview of what is to come.

Road into Valley of Fire State Park.

The main road drops quickly into the park.

Distant mountains add contrast and depth to the bright red sandstone. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Distant mountains add contrast and depth to the bright red sandstone. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Red sandstone rocks and mountains at Valley of Fire State Park in Southern Nevada.

Another perspective.

Red sandstone rocks at west entrance to Valley of Fire State Park.

The rocks alone.

A closer look.

A closer look.

I liked the rounded look here plus the green shrubs.

I liked the more rounded look here set off by the green vegetation. Note the hole in the sandstone.

Holes in sandstone rock at Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas.

Holes in sandstone are quite common. Some are large enough to crawl into.

The Beehive at the Valley of Fire State Park in Southern Nevada.

The Beehive is one of the Valley of Fire’s best known rock sculptures.

Beehive stone sculpture at Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas, Nevada.

Looking up at the Beehive provides a close up of the unique erosion.

Valley of Fire State Park rock sculpture.

Another favorite of mine.

Rock sculpture at Valley of Fire State Park.

A number of other rock sculptures are located near the Beehive including the balanced rock featured at the beginning of the post and this mouthy fellow.

Faces in the rocks at Valley of Fire State Park.

Peggy and I often see faces in the rocks. Does this make us strange?

Faces in rocks at Valley of Fire State Park.

This face, buried in the rock, was on the scary side. I immediately thought of ‘The Mummy Returns.’

Mountains and sandstone at Valley of Fire State Park i southern Nevada.

I’ll conclude today’s photos from our drive along the Valley of Fire’s main road with this shot that includes an impressive mountain backdrop. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

NEXT BLOG: The road to the White Domes

 

30 comments on “The Valley of Fire Lights Up the Southern Nevada Desert… Views Along the Main Road

    • Thanks Ray. Years ago my dad came home and raved about it but somehow I didn’t get out there until a couple of years ago. I am surprised that more people don’t visit. It’s a treasure. –Curt

    • Right, Suan. The folks in Las Vegas would much prefer that you be spending money in town rather than be running around in the desert. There has been a slight increase in promoting the areas as Las Vegas has decided it wants to appeal to families. –Curt

      • For a more wholesome holiday experience that can fit everyone, they should! We actually spent a week driving out via the south rim through monument valley and over the top to Bryce and Zion before heading back to Vegas for a week. If we could only relive that drive!

  1. What a fab way to celebrate a birthday and see friends regularly. I feel like I know the desert outside Vegas very well, it features in so many crime novels and films 😉 Never shot as beautifully as this though.

  2. A very happy birthday to you, Curt and loving the detour! If I ever made it to Las Vegas I think most of my time was would spent out here…just loving your description and photos. 😀

  3. While working a week in Clark County in the schools, we extended the visit so we could tour places like Valley of Fire. And would you believe, the day we arrived, there was an atlatl competition going on as well as a market of sorts. You could buy spears, heads, gloves, etc. Fascinating. Had never even heard of that.

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