The sun was causing the road to shimmer the day we visited Valley of Fire. It was easy to see how early settlers had mistaken the bright red rocks as firey pillars. The park was a scenic one—hour drive from the Vegas strip and light on the wallet as well. No matter the size or amount of people, it is just $5 per vehicle. A free park map is given to you upon arrival although the roads are well marked and just as easy to follow without it.
The Beehives were our first stop. They reminded me more of the hair-do my Great Aunt Fran wore instead of an insect dwelling, but they were certainly unique. A good piece of advice is to not wear sandals or flip-flops. You do a good amount of walking in the sand and it is hot. Even though the bottoms of your feet are covered, the sand that flips up on top of your feet will hurt like crazy. I wore sneakers and was glad I did after witnessing a couple of screaming flip-flop wearers. Arch rock was a great photo sight although it was strange to take in. To think that due to the constant erosion from wind and rain the piece of artistic nature I am now witnessing will no longer exist. I somehow felt very privileged to be there at that moment to see it. We continued our tour with a hike to the petrified logs and Mouse’s tank. Mouse’s tank is a natural rain- water reservoir named after an Indian who used it as his hiding place. The hike to Mouse’s tank is especially interesting, as the trail has some great prehistoric petroglyphs. It’s so amazing to look at them wondering their age and interpreting their meanings.
It was somewhere around the White Domes where we lost our momentum. We wanted to hike the trail to the old movie set, but the heat and our bodies just wouldn’t allow it. We had long since drained our bottles of water and had now wished we had brought more than just one a piece. A la Clark Griswold, we jumped out of the security of the air-conditioned car, stood a moment, snapped a photo, and jumped back into the blizzard wonderland again. This is what we did for the rest of the scenic spots, except for the cabins. They seemed really interesting so we got out and walked around. Built in the 1930s, they were used as shelters for passing backpackers. Although they are not used any more, I could still see a die-hard backpacker choosing these rustic stone dwellings over the mega resorts of the strip.
Even if you are only in Vegas a few days, Valley of Fire is worth a stop. The formations are unique unto themselves, and may not even exist sometime in the future.
Just beware that the heat will zap your energy fast so decide which sites are really worth the hike.