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post #1 of (permalink) Old 11-28-2021, 12:11 AM Thread Starter
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Default Valley of Fire, Nevada

Famous Nevada State Park with incredible Rock Formations and brilliant desert colors. It's ~1hr north of Las Vegas, and access is either via I-15 -> Valley of Fire Highway from the west, or Lake Mead North Shore -> Hwy 167 from the east. Staying in Henderson I took Hwy 167 and it is quite scenic drive. Being first time here I was pure tourist - drove around and stopped at all the hotspots. I went on Black Friday foolishly thinking locals will be busy shopping - think again. It was incredibly busy - Lake Louise in August (or Joffre Lakes on Duffy in BC feel deserted in comparison). But the scenery makes for it - and just like everywhere else if you come again and again you learn how to dodge the crowds that mostly hang within 100-200m radius of parking areas.



Parking was also very difficult to find - I wanted to stop at Visitor Center but gave up being unable to find spot. Then I drove up the main drag for 5-6miles that ends at White Dome area and this is really unlike anything I've seen before. From White Dome crossed over on foot to Fire Wave trailhead and hiked that trail; I think it eventually links with Silica Dome via some canyons where you might have it to yourself


This was just a sniffle; area deserves much much more attention - and is heaven for photographers in right conditions. I am sure to come back once again this time, and then visit in the future (with hopefully right strategy how to dodge the crowds). Here are some "tourist" visuals:


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[Table at East Entrance; this is near the first tourist pullout and short Trail to Elephant Rock which I also did]


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[These are called "Seven Sisters" - of which you see only 3 on the photo. It is right by the road, couple of miles from Visitor Center coming from the east]


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[This is near Petroglyph Canyon parking, already on road from Visitor Center to Silica Dome. I am seeing now that if I continued trail leads to Mouse Tank, natural red sandstone rock basin]


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[At White Dome (Obelisk to the right). I scrambled that rock on left side of pic, then crossed over to the other side. There is also interesting trail down the canyon in the gap center of the pic I took on return]


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[Couple of panos from top of that rock feature above White Dome, on first you can appreciate scenic drive down the road. On Second you can see to the left Fire Wave area trail]


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[View North from Fire Wave Trailhead area]


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[Fire Wave trail passing just below on right side of that super imposing rock Pillar center of the photo. Later I found it is called "Gibraltar Rock"]


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[My turnaround point - Fire Wave is out of photo to the right, but I simply couldn't get a pic without people taking selfies. In the distance is I believe Silica Dome and it could be a great hike]


Finally one observation - Valley of Fire is bit of a rip-off. I have US National Park Pass but it is not good here as it is State Park. So you gotta pay extra. And Day Pass is - 15 USD!! (If you live in Nevada it is $10). They don't have multi-day passes, or weekly pass - only annual. They also kick you out before sunset - ranger car is driving around and chasing people out. I wanted to take some long exposure shots after sunset, but was chased out. Valley of Fire is majestic but increased popularity brought some undesired side effects. Everything comes with a price I guess.
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Last edited by zeljkok; 11-30-2021 at 01:19 AM.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 11-30-2021, 01:41 AM Thread Starter
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Came back few days later on a workday, and what a difference! Major lesson learned: Never go to US National or State parks on a long weekends. Although there were still people, this was much more manageable. No problems finding parking spots and for large parts I was able to be by myself. Did number of short hikes following the main artery from Visitor Center to end of road at White Dome. First two - Mouse Tank and Fire Canyon overlook were nothing special, but after that I drove to Silica Dome parking and had great hike to top of the Dome in total solitude. And finally "7 Wonders Trail loop" - starts at White Dome, then down some slot canyons, across the road to Pastel Canyon to Fire Wave and finally back via Gibraltar Rock and Magic Hill. This is one of most scenic loops I've had in this part of the world. Pics:


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[These are the "Cabins" - short drive from main road, no hiking. Ancient pueblos, well preserved]


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[Had to stop the car to take pic of this one ]


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[Petroglyphs along Mouse Tank trail. Trail follows canyon and is entirely in sand that gets into your shoes. Look at left side going in for these]


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[This is Fire Canyon overlook, trail starts from Rainbow Vista parking and goes - again in sand mostly - for about 20-25 minutes. There is "End of Trail" sign here, but I spotted prints in sand below & am sure one can scramble down than probably follow all the way to Silica Dome]


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[This is Silica Dome from the Parking overlook. Most everyone just snaps a photo here & then drives away, but I followed easy trail looping around on left side, then scrambled easily to top of Silica Dome for wonderful 360 views]


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[Pano from top of Silica Dome. This was midday so light is way too bright, but mid-morning is probably best time. In general for photographers I think first part of the day works best in Valley of Fire due to overall layout of terrain and position of sun]


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[Start on White Dome trail; it drops down on other side of that saddle & intercepts "7 wonders trail". There are maps at couple of spots lower down]


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[Famous spot for Movies! Between several others, Star Trek - Generations was filmed here. Something for trekkies!]


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[Wonderful shallow slot canyon along 7 Wonders Trail, that asked for bit of squeeze at couple of places]


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[Fire Wave from below at end of Pastel Canyon]


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[This is the famous Fire Wave Rock & this time I managed to get a pic without someone on top taking selfie (but I had to wait!). Once again, mid-morning works way better for pics as whole dome will be lit by sun from east side, and in the afternoon it is in shadow as seen on photo]


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[Dusk pano from "Magic Hill" above White Dome parking; this is probably the most photogenic spot in entire Park]


To conclude, as this was last visit for this stay, Valley of Fire is well worth. But you need to work out logistics to get most out of it.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 12-01-2021, 10:35 PM
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If youíre in The Las Vegas area longer you should check out Arizona Hot Springs
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 12-02-2021, 09:14 PM
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Nice! I can say from first hand experience is that the place is deserted in the middle of July.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 12-02-2021, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by martin View Post
Nice! I can say from first hand experience is that the place is deserted in the middle of July.

You got that right! Did some peaks in Red Rock later & in casual conversation with locals first thing that came out was "Do you know how it is here in July?"


But, Vegas area is quite good as winter outdoor destination. My impression was "you go to Vegas for casinos" but was quite surprised. Will post more TRs when I find time.
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