I have visited Las Vegas multiple times throughout my adult life, and although I have fun memories and enjoyed my time there, my favorite memory of Las Vegas, and a place I would always love to go back to, was discovered on an excursion outside of the city. I personally find nothing more exciting than going to a location that I think I know everything about, and then discovering something unexpected. Here is your guide to all the best reasons for visiting Valley of Fire State Park Nevada, including: Valley of Fire hiking, Valley of Fire trails, and Valley of Fire camping!
Disclosure: Below are some affiliate links-these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t make any recommendations on this page that I haven’t tested or personally used!
Table of Contents
Visiting Valley of Fire State Park Nevada: Vegas’s Best Secret
Despite what the slogans say, I personally do not think that Las Vegas has many secrets. Its heart is pretty much visible anywhere you go. And that is why I found it so exciting that after multiple visits to that city, I was able to discover a new place full of new and intriguing hikes! Just an hour outside of Las Vegas, is a small, under-rated state park, that is one of my favorite places: Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.
My first trip to Valley of Fire State Park occurred after my sister and I decided, after two days exploring Las Vegas during a girls trip with a friend, that we should see what outdoor gems the area held. Valley of Fire State Park drew us in because it seemed to have a very under the radar feel to it. Two campgrounds, seventy-two campsites, and multiple hikes and trails that all seemed manageable to complete in a day’s time.
Disclaimer-Valley of Fire State Park is not a park to go and expect to cross-country hike or have a week’s worth to explore. But it is the perfect draw for those looking for a day or two escape to hike the natural side of Las Vegas, followed by some stellar camping!
Location of Valley of Fire State Park Nevada
Valley of Fire State Park is located approximately one hour northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada. If you are coming from Las Vegas, the last tiny town you will pass will be Crystal, and there is a gas station off of Interstate 15 when you exit for Valley of Fire State Park. These are the last facilities you will find before entering the park, so if you need to fuel up or buy supplies, this is the place to do so.
The area of Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
Know Before You Go
Valley of Fire State Park is open from sunrise to sunset, and campsites are accessible 24 hours a day. The park itself is open 365 days a year. If you plan to visit the Visitor Center during your stay, it is open from 9 am to 4 pm.
The entry fee for Valley of Fire State Park is $10 per vehicle, or $15 for non-Nevada vehicles. If you plan to camp, it is $20 per vehicle, plus an additional $10 per site with utility hookups. Make sure to bring exact change, as fees are collected via self pay envelopes. Also, if you are planning to camp, bring sure to bring your own firewood. Being that this is the desert, burnable materials are not available, and the desert temps do tend to drop once the sun goes down!
One last tip is to be sure to grab anything you need before you arrive, including food, supplies, and gas! There are no facilities immediately near the state park boundaries, so be prepared before hand!
BEST TIME OF YEAR:
Valley of Fire State Park is a great park to visit year round, but summer months can be brutal and is the least recommended season to visit.
Leashed pets are allowed in Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire Camping
Valley of Fire camping options include two campgrounds with 72 available campsites. The first is the Atlatl Campground, and the second is the Arch Rock Campground. Both campgrounds are actually very close in proximity to each other. Both campgrounds are currently first come first serve, but a reservation system is coming to all Nevada state parks in 2023!
Campsites come equipped with grills and pavilions, and campground amenities include water and restrooms with showers. All Valley of Fire camping sites are first come first serve. There are rv sites, and group sites that are reservable by contacting the park. Entrance fees for camping are $20 a vehicle, plus an extra $10 per night for sites with utility hookups.
*Insider Tip: don’t forget – campsites with utility hookups are an additional $10
***Need an RV for camping at Valley of Fire State Park? Search for an RV to rent HERE and complete your trip!!!
My personal favorite campground is the Atlatl Campground! You can’t beat desert camping under a beautiful, un-obscured sky of stars! On my first overnight stay at Valley of Fire State Park, it was a stark, windless, December night, that was perfectly suited to a warm campfire and hot cocoa and roasted hot dogs. Our chosen campsite came with enormous ledges and cliffs, surrounded by rocks and boulders of multiple color variations and streaks (and our claim to fame was later on seeing our campsite featured on the Facebook page for Valley of Fire State Park!).
One of the most remarkable and fascinating aspects of the Atlatl Campground is the rock formations. All of the rocks are strewn with crevices, fissures, and holes, some large enough to even crawl into! Taking in the panoramic of the area, you can start to see what almost looks like faces protruding from the cliffs and contorted in the rock formations.
Another bonus was that many of the campsites can even provide enough rock “scrambling” and exploring to keep you entertained for several hours. It is the closest I have ever felt to being on a foreign landscape; it’s what I imagine a Martian landscape would look like. Mountains and cliffs with reds, oranges, yellows, greens, and purples scattered throughout. Rock ledges and cliffs that you can climb to the top of and see for what feels like hundreds of miles. There is something very unique and special about this kind of desert landscape. With no trees, you can see the entirety of your surroundings.
*Insider Tip: bring firewood! It is a desert, and there is a minimal amount of natural brush to burn or gather. In addition to firewood, be sure to purchase your other necessities, such as food, water, drinks, food, cash, and gas, etc., ahead of time in the city or at the exit in Crystal, as this state park is very isolated in the desert.
The Best of Valley of Fire Hiking
There are 11 established Valley of Fire hiking trails, the longest being just under 7 miles. There are trails that lead through narrow gorges, trails that take you to the top of huge expanses of rock ledges with beautiful color variations, trails that lead to petroglyphs, and trails that lead to old abandoned cabins. In all, Valley of Fire State Park is one of my favorite state parks I have ever hiked. Below is just a sampling of some of the best Valley of Fire hiking trails.
White Domes Trail
Length: 1.1 miles roundtrip loop
Elevation Gain: 177 feet
Estimated Time to Complete: 20 – 30 minutes
A fantastically vibrant, short trail that showcases a myriad of desert colors, ranging from gold to orange to red to purple! Aptly named for the smooth rounded shapes of the peaks here, this trail will treat you to subtle elevation gains, shimmying through slot canyons, and spectacular vistas overlooking otherworldly terrain. The highlight of this trail is simply the colors.
Elephant Rock Trail
Length: 0.3 miles roundtrip out and back
Elevation Gain: 52 feet
Estimated Time to Complete: 10 minutes
This trail is what the name suggests, terminating at a elephant-like red rock formation, that looms over the surrounding terrain. This trail is easily accessible off the main park road, but note that due to its barren terrain, there is not much of a marked trail. It is more of just making your own path to the formation, which will be in eyesight from the road the whole way. There are some other smaller, interesting alcoves in the vicinity also worth exploring.
Insider Tip: If you are running short on time and cannot hike to Elephant Rock, it is possible to drive by it and see it from the road.
Mouse’s Tank Trail
Length: 0.8 miles roundtrip out and back
Elevation Gain: 55 feet
Estimated Time to Complete: 15 – 20 minutes
Mouse’s Tank is another of the canyon-esque Valley of Fire trails that winds through sandy paths, leading to some petroglyphs in the cliffsides only minutes from the trailhead. This impressive collection of prehistoric artwork is known as Petroglyph Canyon. An informational board provides more detailed information into the origins and meanings of these artistic renderings. This trail terminates into a natural water collection hole, hence the name Mouse’s Tank.
To find your way to the Mouse’s Tank, you will actually have to look for the Petroglyph Canyon Trail. There is a designated parking lot for Petroglyph Canyon and the trail, which will lead you to the Mouse’s Tank formation.
Insider Tip: it is critical that visitors resist the temptation to touch any of the petroglyphs found in Valley of Fire State Park!
Why You Need to Visit Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
The next time you are in Las Vegas, don’t let The Strip overshadow the natural gems that are right down the road! Let some of these Valley of Fire hiking trails be a testament to explore the lesser known areas and some of this country’s most amazing state parks!
And on that note, your discovery does not have to be outside of Las Vegas, per say. Make your own discovery somewhere where you thought you knew everything there was to know! Go to a familiar place, but travel down the road just a little further, and find something new! I personally believe that, although we humans have added a lot of our own touches to the world, many of which are wonderful and fascinating additions, often what was already there on its own will trump anything we have created!
Read More: Interested in what else you can find when you leave some of America’s main thoroughfares? Check out my post on what you find when you leave Bourbon Street!
***Are you a fan of red rock hiking and trails? Let me introduce you to another of my favorite red rock itineraries, Arches National Park in 1 day!
Ready for Some of that Red Rock Hiking?
- Before you take off, grab all your hiking essentials with the ONLY Hiking Checklist You Will EVER Need!
PIN for LATER!