Exploring the Valley of Fire State Park – so close to Las Vegas!

Interested in visiting the Valley of Fire State Park from Las Vegas?

We had an amazing day out exploring what we consider the best of the day trips from Las Vegas driving and hiking through this incredible park. Down below are our tips on the best Valley of Fire things to do!

valley of fire state park nevada
Fire Wave Hike, Valley of Fire

How does traipsing around waves of pink, orange and red rock sound? Once again, Mother Nature has provided us with an exquisite colorful playground to explore.

This marvel called the Valley of Fire in Nevada is the perfect Las Vegas day trips, and the best of the State Parks near Las Vegas!

If you spend any amount of time among the craziness of Sin City, you’ll be seeking respite. At only an hour away from the Strip, Valley of Fire State Park Nevada has you covered.

Rent a car, pack some food (and plenty of water), slip on some comfortable clothing and head out for one fantastic day.

The good news is it’s very doable to explore Valley of Fire State Park Las Vegas in one day!

You could stay longer and camp there as well if you wanted (more information down below).

Things to do in Valley of Fire State Park

VAlley of Fire rainbow vista hike
Rainbow Vista

From scenic drives, to hiking trails, picnic areas, viewpoints and Junior Ranger programs, there is a lot to fill out your day at Valley of Fire Nevada.

Here is what we recommend based upon what we were able to do in one day.

Scenic Drive through Valley of Fire

Scenic drive through VAlley of Fire
WOW! Such a beautiful drive

Phones down, conversations and sing songs on pause, look out the window, there is plenty to gawk at along the Valley of Fire road Nevada.

You may never see such beautiful colors and rock formations in one place again.

There are two main roads going through the Valley of Fire park. We drove the main paved scenic road (NV 169) running north and south through the park.

There are several short Valley of Fire State Park trails, narrow canyons, petroglyphs, desert viewpoints, and loads of colorful rocks in hues moving beyond the red that the park is named for.

This is a Rainbow World you are driving through!

Go slow and pull over when you can for some pretty views and photos.

Fire wave trail VAlley of Fire
It’s a fire wave!

Right at the beginning when you climb up the road banked by high red cliffs is spectacular, especially when you come back down it. You get a good view of balanced rock from here.

You could just drive through the Valley of Fire Vegas and be satisfied. But we recommend the following Valley of Fire hiking trails to stop at along the way.

Hiking Trails in Valley of Fire State Park

Below are the incredible Valley of Fire State Park hikes we did and recommend you do too!

Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock Valley of Fire
Great photo opp at Balanced Rock

After stopping in at the Valley of Fire Visitor Center for maps (if you have kids pick up their Junior Rangers books) you can then take the very short trail to balanced rock.

It is simply a large rock balancing on top of the other. It is pretty cool to see. Plus some awesome rock formations the kids can crawl inside of.

If you think you’ll be short on time, perhaps do it at the end of the day when you return to the Visitor Center you pick up your Junior Ranger badge, OR you can see it from the scenic drive.

You may see bighorn sheep in this area as well. Look up to the red cliffs above, they like to hang out there and we saw a large gathering of them.

Mouse Tanks Trail (0.7 miles return)

Mouse Tank trails, Valley of fire with kids
Fun family hike

Mouse Tanks is one of the easiest Valley of Fire trails that goes past a rock face covered in petroglyphs and ends at a little pool of water.

The tank is a natural cavity in the rocks where rainwater collects.

This is where an outlaw, who the trail is named after, is said to have hid.

The tank was used as a water source by a Paiute Indian fugitive (“Little Mouse”) in the 1890s. He was captured and killed after several months in hiding.

It’s an easy, sandy trail and the kids will love the many opportunities to scramble over rocks and explore small slot canyons and caves.

VAlley of Fire petroglyphs

The petroglyphs are cool, I especially like how there was an information board at the beginning of the trail that defined what some of the petroglyphs meant.

The kids were better able to connect to the stories told on the black rock face.

Rainbow Vista Trail

RAinbow Vista Trail, Valley of Fire
Another easy hike with kids

I loved the quiet grandeur of the Rainbow Vista Trail.

It’s more of an open trail where you are walking amongst the expanse of the vista – an assortment of rocks in almost every color imaginable.

You’ll come to what feels like the end of the trail but if you turn right it loops around and takes you to a Fire Canyon Wash, a maze of jagged reddish-brown rocks.

There is a huge rock there, you  can climb up it for epic views, like Craig did, or walk down the bottom through the valley, like I did.

The Rainbow Vista area is also a great spot for a picnic. You get magnificent views of the valley!

Be sure to pop over the road from the picnic area to get a photo of the rainbow waves stretched in front of you.

Fire Wave Trail (1.5 miles return)

The most popular thing to do in Valley of Fire STate Park
Don’t miss the Fire wave trail

The Fire Wave Trail is probably the most popular of the Valley of Fire State Park hikes and where you are going to find the famous colored rock waves.

I can imagine this trail will be baking hot in summer time so be sure to visit early with adequate water.

It’s the longest of the trails at 1.5 miles, but it is truly one of the most spectacular hikes in Nevada!

The trail begins by heading towards a long steep ridge of red sandstone.

You then drop through some small boulders to a more compact dirt path. A path along the slick rock will then take you over the crest to the fire wave!

From here you can explore the bowl covered in orange, pink and white stripes and walk around the wave to experience the fullness of its striped, curved beauty.

Cool hike Valley of fire
Stunning areaw

Fire Wave Valley of Fire is a nice place to sit and contemplate awhile and let the kids run and play.

Don’t pass over the section across from the beginning of the trailhead just off the parking lot. This area is also pretty filed with interesting rock formations and colors.

The kids will love exploring here as well.

White Domes Trail (1.2 miles loop)

White domes hike valley of fire
Such a different hike in the Valley of Fire State Park

I loved the White Domes Valley of Fire trail as it was very different to the others.

On this trail you are going to walk through a world of yellow and white. It begins walking up through a sandy gap between two ridges then down onto the floor of a dry drainage, Kaolin Wash.

You’ll pass by the old movie set used for The Professionals in 1966 which gives it a Mexico feel.

Yes, Hollywood likes the Valley of Fire State Park Nevada too!

The trail then goes through a narrow slot canyon which makes it an interesting hike. This was my favorite part of the trail.

It’s only 150 feet but the beautifully colored rocks offers a cool passageway, perfect for those hot days spent visiting Valley of Fire State Park.

It then comes out to more of an open section where you get views out over the park on one side and as far to the Muddy Mountains in the north and orange cliff aces on the other.

We did attempt to find the Pink Canyon Trail.

But we must be bad at following directions and then on the way back we were ready to get home because the kids were in that whining mood that happens after a day of hiking.

See more details here

Do the Junior Rangers Program

Junior Rangers Program Valley of Fire
Fun family activities

If you’ve been following our USA road trip, then you know we LOVE the Junior Ranger Program.

They are well known for USA National Parks, but most state parks will have them as well.

This was a pretty easy one and the girls finished their activities quickly. Leave time to stop into the visitor center at the end of the day to say the Junior Ranger pledge and pick up their badges.

Valley of Fire Nevada Video

Tips for Visiting Valley of Fire State Park

  • Valley of Fire entrance fee is $10 to the park
  • Oct – April will see cooler temperatures and may be the better time to visit Valley of Fire State Park Las Vegas
  • Valley of Fire park is pet friendly (leashes required)
  • Open daily from sunrise to sunset
  • Visitor Center Hours: 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. There are exhibits here to learn more about the park. (and cool rocks outside for the kids to climb)
  • Visit their website for more information (although to be honest there is not a lot of information on there)

Where is Valley of Fire State Park?

The Valley of Fire State Park NV is located in the Mojave Desert and covers an area of approximately 35,000 acres.

It is the oldest of the Nevada State Parks and was dedicated in 1935.

Directions to Valley of Fire State Park

scenic drive valley of fire
Spectacular VAlley of Fire drive

The Valley of Fire State Park from Las Vegas strip is 49 miles northeast of Las Vegas. You can get there by way of I-15.

Or, if you are staying at Lake Mead Recreational Area, you can drive along the North Road to reach the east side of the park.

northshore road lake mead rv trip
North Road from Lake Mead

I even recommend you enter this way from Las Vegas. It will be an extra 30 minutes but the drive along Northshore Drive is spectacular (see photo above)!! It made our list of top USA scenic drives.

It’s worth leaving a little earlier to experience it.

Car Rental Las Vegas

We highly recommend you rent a car to visit Valley of Fire NV (that is if you don’t already have your own).

You can check car rentals prices from Las Vegas here.

You can also check RVShare, should you want to rent a unique campervan or RV and explore further afield.

It’s a fantastic idea to go a little further west into the St George region in Utah! Prepare to be wowed.

Camping in Valley of Fire State Park

If you love camping, there are a few Valley of Fire State Park camping options to choose from. Just remember, camping in Nevada can be hot, or cool.

There are 3 campgrounds in Valley of Fire (Arch Rock, Atlatl Rock, and a group campground) inside the park.

They are all located just inside the West entrance. There is also free camping on BLM land outside the park.

Some Valley of Fire camping sites you can reserve in advance, others are first come first serve.

Sites cost $20 a night (includes park entrance fee). For Valley of Fire State Park camping reservations go here.

Valley of Fire State Park cabins.

Valley of Fire State Park RV camping

Tours from Las Vegas

If you can’t get yourself to the Valley of Fire in your own vehicle you can visit through the below Valley of Fire tours from Las Vegas.

Where to Stay in Las Vegas

Pool at Harrah's place to stay in Vegas with kids
Pool at Harrah’s

You have unlimited options for accommodation in Las Vegas.

Here are our top recommendations for hotels on the Strip.

These are all in the middle of the Strip, which we feel is the best places to stay in Las Vegas:

Here are our suggestions for Downtown Las Vegas hotels:

Find more accommodation hotels, apartments and deals for Las Vegas here.

And don’t forget Airbnb

Airbnb is a fantastic option for Las Vegas accommodation, especially if you are traveling as a family or with a large group. It can save you a ton of money.

Check out Airbnb properties for Las Vegas here.

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