I mentioned several days ago that Tom and I stayed away from the touristy things in Las Vegas. Instead we enjoyed the sunshine and warmth and spent a lot of time hiking. One of the places we visited that we really enjoyed was Valley of Fire State Park.
Valley of Fire is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park. It is located about an hour northeast of Las Vegas, on the northwest shore of Lake Mead. There is a visitor’s center, petroglyphs, a campground, and lots of hiking along a 20 mile scenic drive. Because Valley of Fire is a little off the beaten path, there is plenty of parking and, once you get on the hiking trails, very few people.
The Valley of Fire derives its name from red sandstone formations, formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of dinosaurs, 150 million years ago. One sign said that the sandstone was “petrified sand.” I’ve never thought about sandstone that way before. Complex uplifting and faulting of the region, followed by extensive erosion, have created the present landscape.
We climbed around the Beehives, saw the petroglyphs on Atlatl Rock, and hiked to Arch Rock. We hiked to the Fire Wave and went through several narrows at the White Domes. We also hiked to Elephant Rock and on Arrowhead Trail. Arrowhead Road was the first car route from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City, used from 1905 until 1929, and it must have been a difficult and arduous journey.
The different colors in the rocks at Valley of Fire were amazing and beautiful. I can imagine that the red sandstone would look and feel like fire, especially during the summer months. It was 60 and sunny the day we were there in January – and temperatures in the summer are usually over 100. I was trying out a new polarizing filter on my camera and some of the pictures get close to capturing how beautiful it was.
If you come to Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park is a great place to get away from the noise and crowds of the city. Walking among the rocks, we felt connected to God’s wonderful creation and to a thousand years of people who have walked in the valley and seen the fire.