After flying into the US and spending a few nights in Las Vegas, Kai and I picked up our rental car and set off east for the road trip of a lifetime! We would be camping for the next two weeks, hitting up quite a few of the major national and state parks in the area including Zion, Moab, Antelope Canyon, Escalante, Lake Powell, Staircase, and my favorite – the Wave! Our plan was to drive from Nevada, through Utah and Arizona, all the way to Colorado (I will share our two week itinerary when I wrap up our southwest road trip series :) As we flew in from Europe and didn’t want to lug a bunch of camping gear overseas, we placed a pick up order at Target in Las Vegas for a tent, an air mattress, sleeping bags, pillows, a grill, a cooler, chairs, citronella candles, and flashlights in advance. Once we got our rental car, we swung by Target to get our camping gear, stopped in the dollar store for paper goods, grilling supplies, and cooking basics, and then hit up Trader Joes for drinks and food for the next two weeks. The car was packed to the brim by the time we set off for our first stop of the trip, Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.
I loved watching the landscape change from a stone grey color to fire red as we drove – if you scroll through the last four photos, you will see what I mean! As the landscape evolved, my excitement grew, and by the time we reached Valley of Fire State Park, we were surrounded by a rainbow of clay colored hues.Valley of Fire State Park is a nature preservation area that spans 46,000 acres, located 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The park is mainly made up of red sandstone formations, which were created more than 150 million years ago. The park derives its name from these formations which often appear to be on fire when reflected by the sun’s rays – a magnificent sight!As we visited on a cloudy day, we did not get to experience the ‘fire’ phenomenon, however, the landscape was still breathtaking with a gradient of fire colors seemingly alive under our feet.Valley of Fire is open during daylight hours every day, and the entrance fee is $10 per car. Make sure to bring exact change, as this is often self-pay with envelopes. If you wish to camp, you can do so for $20 which includes the $10 entrance fee.Once in the park, Kai and I set off towards Fire Wave, which would require a 1.5 mile round-trip hike and a mere 175ft elevation change. Fire Wave is a bowl-shaped dip with rising peaks, and a sea of red, orange, and yellow waves.
I found these directions to Fire Wave on a hiking webpage, and they proved to be quite useful! So I’m sharing here in case you’d like to attempt the short, sweet, and fiery hike yourself!
Directions: To get to the trailhead for Fire Wave from Las Vegas, take Interstate 15 north for about 35 miles to exit 75. You will see signs for Valley of Fire State Park. At the end of the off-ramp, go southeast on Valley of Fire Highway. You will reach the park’s west entrance after 14.5 miles. Drive another 3.5 miles and turn left, following the sign for the visitor center and Mouse’s Tank. Go a tenth of a mile and bear left to stay on White Domes Road, bypassing the visitor center. Drive another 3.7 miles to Parking Lot #3, which is on the left across from the start of the trail. Cross the road and start down the path, which will bend to the right. You will most likely pass other hikers looking to explore Fire Wave along your way! Keep scrolling to uncover the fellow hiker we uncovered . . . . Fire Wave was brilliant – I’ve never seen such blazing red rocks . . . . . . and I couldn’t help but run my fingers over the many grooves and crannies along the wave!
Check out that little Ali-speck, dwarfed by the blazing rocks!These two specs together are my favorite ;)On our way out, we bumped into our first (and thankfully last!) desert tarantula of the trip!!Although frightening, these little guys are relatively common in Nevada’s hot, dry basins (such as Valley of Fire State Park) and despite their size, these hairy spiders are harmless to humans. Their bite is likened to a bee sting and typically doesn’t provoke any lasting effects. Despite knowing this, I was thankful we didn’t see any more roving tarantulas on our trip!After exploring Valley of Fire, I had two more road trip stops on the list for that day. First was Glitter Mountain, which I was crazy-hoping to see. The second was Red Hills Desert Garden, which is a beautiful public garden in Utah. Both were along our route from Las Vegas to Zion, however it had taken us longer than expected to pick up our rental car, camping gear, and groceries, so we had to end the day’s activities at Valley of Fire in order to leave enough time to reach Zion and set up camp before nightfall (which we BARELY managed!!)So we hit the road once again, bound for Arizona, and then Utah!Looking forward to telling you all about what we discovered there – I’ll pick up the next post to tell you all about our three nights in Zion :)
Until then! xx Ali