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Valley of Fire State Park: Home to Mouse Tank Road and the Fire Wave
Valley of Fire State Park gets its name from the sandstone formations found in the park and covers nearly 46,000 acres of land in Nevada. The park is gaining popularity from Instagram (like everything else these days!) and the famous shot of Mouse Tank Road which is the road going into the park. After seeing it in person, I’d say it’s worth the hype. Before going, I had no idea the park had it’s own Fire Wave trail with no permits needed! A huge bonus if you’re familiar with the wildly popular (and super competitive) Wave Coyote Buttes trail in Utah.
Valley of Fire State Park has red rock formations and desert landscape like I have never seen before. We stopped at Valley of Fire State Park for sunrise on our way out of Las Vegas before heading north on our road trip through Utah and only had a short time to explore. I’m so glad we made time for this stop and highly recommend it if you’re planning a trip.
Keep reading below for everything you need to know to make your first visit to Valley of Fire a success!
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Important Things to Know for Your First Visit
When planning your first visit to Valley of Fire, it’s important to know a few key facts to ease your mind and ensure you’re well-prepared.
There are plenty of restrooms and picnic tables available at parking lots and campsites. I was pleasantly surprised by this! The campsites are also well suited with plenty of camping amenities.
Weather & Conditions
Valley of Fire got its name for a reason. The weather can get harsh with extreme temperatures in the summer. No matter when you visit, the temperature will have a big range from hot to cold depending on the time of day so make sure to plan accordingly.
That being said, make sure to bring sunscreen and extra water!
Consider wearing appropriate footwear for some sandy conditions. The trails can get very sandy so I wouldn’t recommend mesh tennis shoes, for example.
Valley of Fire is pet friendly! Just make sure to keep dogs on leashes no more than 6 feet and clean up after them of course.
Important: Finding Trails & GPS
There are lots of new trails at Valley of Fire State Park so check google maps beforehand. I was surprised to find the Google Maps had better marked trailheads than the park map, simply because the park has to print new maps.
You’ll want to download on offline map from either Goole Maps or something similar since service and GPS can be spotty.
Best Time to Visit Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park is open year round from sunrise to sunset. Being that the park is desert landscape, you can expect high temperatures in the summer (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit).
The best time of year to visit Valley of Fire State Park is between fall and spring, October to April, when highs range from 50’s to 80’s Fahrenheit. We visited from sunrise to around 10am in late November. I was comfortable in a thick flannel as the sun started to rise and warm us up.
How Much Time is Needed to Explore
Valley of Fire State Park is a relatively easy park to explore with one main road that takes you around the park past all of the highlights. You can easily hit 3-4 quick trails in just a few hours or go deeper into the park for a full day of hiking or rock climbing in specific areas. We opted for 3-4 stops at the highlights in just about 3 hours which fit our tight timeline.
Catching a sunrise or sunset will make your visit extra special as the lighting brings out some spectacular colors in the rocks. Being at the park for sunrise was a highlight of our trip around Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.
How to Get to Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire from Las Vegas
Just a quick 45 minute drive from Las Vegas Strip, Valley of Fire State Park is a popular day trip for those wanting a break from the craziness of Vegas.
Valley of Fire from LAX
Although much further, you can get to Valley of Fire State Park in 5 hours from LAX International Airport. This would be a good option if you want to explore LA before heading out and you can add a stop in Palm Springs and Joshua Tree for a longer trip.
Valley of Fire from St. George Airport
Another option would be adding Valley of Fire to a Southern Utah Itinerary. Just 1.5 hours from St. George Airport which is next to Zion National Park, you could easily add Valley of Fire, Red Rock Canyon National Park, Las Vegas, and Lake Mead.
Where to Stay
There are no hotels next to the park so it’s common to stay in Las Vegas in one of the hundreds of hotels available or there are a couple of budget-friendly motels just outside of Vegas and in Moapa Valley.
Another great option is to tent or RV camp around the park. Valley of Fire has all the amenities you could want for camping and camping would get you easy access to the best sunrise and sunset spots!
Spots are first come first serve (72 spots in total) and have showers/water, picnic tables, grills and bathrooms. Check out the park website for more information.
Nearby BLM land allows for a more rugged experience but it’s free!
Water and power hookups are available. Check out the park website for more information.
Best Hikes and Things to do in Valley of Fire State Park
You can see from the map of Valley of Fire State Park that there are a number of short and long hikes to fit your needs. The hikes we did could qualify more as short walks both being under 2 miles. An even better option, if you have the time, would be to connect a few of these trails for a big loop. Make sure to check out Alltrails.com for those options.
Nevada’s Most Famous Road: Mouse Tank Road
If you’re like me, I only knew about Valley of Fire state park because of this iconic road. You can get your own photo of this beauty just after entering the park and stopping at the Rainbow Vista trailhead. Turn around and walk towards Mouse’s tank Trailhead to get the full view.
Best Short Hikes
- Fire Wave Trail: 1.5 miles * This is a new trail! So it’s not pictured on the park map but the trailhead is marked on google maps.
- White Domes Trail: 1 mile
- Rainbow Vista Trail: 1 mile
Best Long Hikes
- 7 Wonders Trail: about 3 miles. This is technically an unmarked trail so make sure to do your research beforehand. Essentially, it connects the Fire Wave Trail and White Dome with a couple other “wonders” like the pastel (pink) canyon trail.
- Pinnacles Loop: 4.5 miles
- Lots of loop trail options connecting the highlights – make sure to check out Alltrails.
What we did:
When you enter the park, you’ll want to stop at the visitor center to get a park map and read some of the interesting park facts. For example, there were petroglyphs found in the park that dated back 2000 plus years ago! If arriving for sunrise, make sure to stop on your way out as the center doesn’t open until 9am.
Next up is a stop at Rainbow Vista – if not to do the hike, at least stop and then look behind you at Mouse Tank Road. Here you’ll see the iconic scene of Mouse Tank Road rolling between the red aztec rocks – even more stunning in person.
After snapping a few photos here, you’ll want to make your way to the Fire Wave Trailhead. Make sure to have decent shoes as the beginning of most trails are very sandy. The Fire Wave Trail is also a great spot for sunrise and sunset – the colors in the waves and surrounding rocks light up in all kinds of colors.
Finally, you’ll head to the White Domes Trailhead – another fun, short hike that highlights some of the interesting erosion in the park.
Additional Popular Stops:
- Fire Cave – this is also camping spot
- Pastel Pink Canyon – great colors in this wash. Again, not marked on the park map but you can find it on google maps.
- Balanced Rock – right next to Visitor’s Center
- Atlatl Rock – a quick stop where you can check out the ancient petroglyphs!
- Fire Canyon Overlook – short drive from Rainbow Vista
And there you have it friends! Make sure to let me know if you visit Valley of Fire State Park and how you liked it!
Happy Travels xx