Friday Photo – July 21, 2017

Gie me a spark o’ Nature’s fire, / That’s a’ the learning I desire.
~Robert Burns

Today’s Friday Photo comes from Nevada’s oldest state park: Valley of Fire. The vantage point is along White Domes Road and looking in a southeasterly view toward the Petroglyph Canyon and Fire Wave trails. If you’re a Las Vegas person with an appreciation for natural beauty, then you only need to venture 50 miles northeast on Interstate 15 to reach this magical place. Also note that Valley of Fire is HOT in the warmer months, so the best time of year to visit is fall though early-spring. If you’d like a park map, you can grab one from my site, here.

There are approximately 18 trails in the park, all leading to beautiful rock formations, Petroglyphs, slot canyons, and other points of interest. The formations are made of red Aztec Sandstone, and began their natural transformation over 150 million years ago. Be advised that many of the trails traverse through the sand dunes which exist throughout the park. This makes for a slightly different hiking experience for your feet and legs. If you’re more accustomed to hiking on dirt and rock trails, you’ll notice the difference right away. The experience is similar to walking along the sands of a beach. As a result, the hikes can be a little slower and more challenging. The up side is that most of the trails are anywhere from 1/2 mile to 3 miles with varying degrees of elevation gain. You can easily spend a whole day here, and there are also campgrounds in which to spend the night. But to really get the full effect as to why this “valley of fire” is the Valley of Fire, you’ll definitely want to see the sun rise or set in this park.

This was my first visit and I knew very little about the park until recently when I planned my trip. The name always fascinated me as I passed the offramp so many times, always on my way towards Zion National Park. I thought it was called Valley of Fire because of the intense heat in the Nevada Desert, kind of like Death Valley in California. But Valley of Fire was actually named for its reddish tan rock formations  which glow with hues of bright red and yellow during sunrise and sunset. It’s an amazing spectacle!

If you want to unleash your inner youth, you can end your day with a stop at the Moapa Paiute Travel Plaza located at the Valley of Fire freeway exit (Exit 75), and purchase some aerial fireworks which you can light off in a designated area right behind the facility. The travel plaza is on the Moapa River Indian Reservation and run by the very friendly Moapa Band of Paiute Indians. For those unfamiliar to the area surrounding Las Vegas, you can also visit Lake Mead National Recreation Area which is adjacent to Valley of Fire. There’s also Hoover Dam (about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas), the massive concrete wonder responsible for forming Lake Mead. Then there’s Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (about 15 miles west of Las Vegas), another hiking wonderland. And if you so desire, you can venture north for about 150 miles to reach Zion National Park in Utah, one of my all time favorite destinations.

~ Photo taken December 27, 2016 5:51 pm

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