About an hour drive away from the overly crowded Las Vegas, Valley of Fire offers the world renowned 40,000 acres of bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops nestled in gray and tan limestone. You can easily get away from the artificial neon lights of the Las Vegas strip and enjoy a day trip hiking in this beautiful place.
After our Zion and Bryce trip, we drove to this park to see the Wave of Fire that has been photographed many times. During Spring break, the weather was pretty mild to hike during the day but you will need to some sunscreen as there would be no shade here. I’d not recommend to go here during the Summer because it can be really hot to even stand under the sun.
The drive from Las Vegas to here was a bit boring with mostly desert. However, when entering the park, one can see the scene changes significantly with the red beehive rock formation appearing along the scenic road.
The road to Fire Wave trail is winding but spectacular with the colorful rock formation. The trail is a bit hard to spot and the parking is pretty small to fit more than 20 cars. Begin from Parking Lot #3, the final parking area on White Does Road before it ends by White Domes Trail. The first time we went there, we missed the trail head as there were not a lot of people. When we came back, the sign and lots of cars in the parking lot provided the clue!
Walk across to the west side of White Does Road to the signed start Fire Wave Trail, which heads northeast down a sandy slope. The trail aims toward a long steep ridge of red sandstone. The Fire Wave was not easily accessible and you will need to hike about 20-30 minutes. Beware that you might hit a sand storm and might get lost so don’t go there after the sun is set.
Walking under the blazing sun (about 90F during Spring Break), we drank a lot of water and felt tired pretty quickly. The total round trip is about 1.5 miles with 175 feet of elevation change. The good thing is that you will start to see the beautiful pink and orange stripes after a few twists and turns. If you have never seen it in real life, you would think that somebody had painted the rocks here!
Note that the trail is not clearly marked and you can easily lose the markers. Follow markers and curve right alongside the striped slickrock, 0.35 miles from the start. Once you find some subtle stripes, keep walking as it is not the “wave” yet. After some hopeless walk, you might find it: a carved-out area at the southwest end of the rock formation you are on! The famous wave is a small bowl shaped area and you might find lots of people lingering here and enjoying the landscape. It took us a while to wait for some photographers and their models to go away 🙂
We hiked to Mouse’s Tank among the red sandstone rock to see some amazing rock formation.We were hopeful to see some petroglyph but we were probably on the wrong place. Anyway, it was a good hike on sandy trail with some mini arch rocks and caves.
At the end of the day, we walked up the hill across the Fire Wave Trail and watched the sunset. From up there, one can see the entire breadth-taking scenery of Valley of Fire State Park. The sunset was not that impressive when we were there but still pretty enjoyable on the top of the big boulder!