Looking for an outdoor adventure in Nevada? The 46,000-acre Valley of Fire State Park should be added to your bucket list. The US has lots of beautiful national parks, but their State Parks are pretty spectacular as well. In fact, the Valley of Fire is one of the best state parks in Nevada. The park is famous for its characteristic Aztec sandstone, which gives the park a memorable red glow and it’s full of fascinating rock formations and hiking trails. Earn some stamps on your Nevada state parks passport and prepare for some exciting experiences.
So, what are the best things to do in the Valley of Fire? From the best hikes to the best natural attractions and viewpoints, this guide will cover all the best things to do in the Valley of Fire. Let’s dive straight in.
Best Hikes in the Valley of Fire State Park
If you love hiking, you will love the Valley of Fire State Park. The Valley of Fire hikes are often challenging but always rewarding. The routes pass fascinating natural attractions – be it petrified logs or a huge, bizarrely shaped rock formation.
However, these Valley of Fire hikes are the best of the best.
1. Old Arrowhead Trail
Old Arrowhead trail is a short and sweet hike in the Valley of Fire. Only 1.1km out and back, the trail takes around fifteen minutes to complete. If you want an easy introduction to exploring the park on foot, we recommend choosing the Old Arrowhead trail.
What is there to see en route? Well, if you are lucky, a herd of Bighorn Sheep and one of the park’s most famous sites. Wildlife in the Valley of Fire can be elusive, so animal lovers should try their luck hiking this route. Apart from Bighorn Sheep, hikers can spot the Arrowhead Arch, views of Lake Mead, and get a sense of that beautiful Nevada desert scenery.
Arrowhead trailhead can be found only 0.8 km from the west entrance, just off the Valley of Fire Highway. You can quickly recognize the trail by its arrowhead signpost.
2. White Domes Trail
The White Domes hike is the trail for you if you want minimal effort and a high reward. This 1.8 km trail has been used for many a Hollywood setting with its dramatic geological structures, and a slot canyon to navigate. Only 30 minutes long, the track packs a lot into a short period. For the fun lovers amongst you and those on a time limit, the White Domes trail is a great option.
Watch the 1960s western film The Professionals before hiking the White Domes trail. This way, you’ll likely spot many film locations when walking the path. Squeezing through the slot canyon at the end is also a fun way to end the experience.
The White Domes trailhead is accessed off of the main road. Turn onto Mouse’s Tank Road, which eventually switches to White Domes Road and comes to a dead end at the hike’s trailhead.
3. Seven Wonders Loop
Google Maps is a must for this hike. You’ll need excellent navigation skills, a sense of adventure, and unflappability under pressure. Why? The whole trail is unmarked and unofficial.
You’ll have to rely on faintly trodden paths and a navigation app to walk through canyon slots, pass multi-colored sandstone rock formations, and over the sandy desert landscape. However, you’ll combine many of the park’s best attractions in one hike. The best natural attractions en route are Fire Cave, Thunderstorm Arch, Crazy Hill, Pastel Canyon, and Fire Wave. After the Fire Wave, you follow the Fire Wave trail back to your starting point at the Fire Wave parking lot.
The trail is only 4 km long and should take less than two hours to complete. However, always leave yourself extra time in case you take a wrong turn. The Seven Wonders Loop is not one to tackle an hour before dark.
4. Fire Wave Trail
While we’ve briefly covered Fire Wave in the Seven Wonders trail, Fire Wave is also a worthy hike on its own. In fact, some may say that it is the best (if not most popular) trail to hike in the Valley of Fire.
The 2.5 km trail is extremely beginner friendly and well-marked for straightforward navigation. You’ll traverse large rocks and boulders, spotting yellow signs and cairns along the way for directions. Fire Wave is located at the trail’s end and is a stunning natural attraction. The sandstone formation has different rock colors, arranged in wave-like patterns that are incredibly photogenic. Fire Wave is a beautiful place to be at sunset or sunrise, and the soft lighting is perfect for admiring the phenomenon.
Allow around an hour to hike there and back, plus a little longer to admire the Fire Wave. The Fire Wave trailhead can be found off Mouse’s Tank Road, just before the White Domes trailhead. You may wish to combine these two trails for an ultimate experience.
Make sure to check the Nevada State Park Website for trail closures. Both the Seven Wonders and the Fire Wave trails were closed for the summer of 2022 because of extreme heat.
5. Elephant Rock Trail
Elephant Rock is one of our absolute favorite Valley of Fire hikes. It doesn’t take much thought to guess what the rock formation at the trail’s end looks like. It really does give the impression of an elephant – trunk and all.
This easy trail is just 0.5 km long. In fact, you can actually complete it in around ten minutes. You’ll barely get a sweat on and get to see one of the park’s best natural attractions. Because of its short length and popularity amongst visitors, Elephant Rock is frequently included on Valley of Fire tours. And, because of its location, we recommend dropping by Elephant Rock as you exit or leave the park, depending on whether you explore the park from its west to east or vice versa.
Elephant Rock is located on the roadside of the Valley of Fire Highway, just after the East Entrance. We suggest parking in the East Entrance car park and walking five minutes to the Elephant Rock trailhead.
6. Pink Canyon Trail
Looking for a photogenic hike? Pink Canyon is the one for you. The canyon gets its two names from its unique, pastel pink color. Only 0.6 km long, the canyon hike takes around 30 minutes to complete and is easily one of the best things to do in the Valley of Fire.
Hikers can enjoy walking through the beautifully colored sandstone canyon, which has a soft sandy floor that helps keep the hike cool before the midday sun. We recommend visiting in the early morning, as apart from being cooler, you’ll find the canyon colors more enhanced. The pastel pink is broken up by stripes of orange, brown, white, and even green – a stunning display of geology.
Like many of the hikes in this guide, Pink Canyon is located off of Mouse’s Tank Road. The trailhead is located a ten-minute drive along the road from the Valley of Fire Visitor Center.
7. Petrified Wood Trail
Have you ever wanted to see the petrified wood phenomenon in person? Wondering what I am talking about? Well, it is a complex, interesting process where logs are buried under sediment. Without oxygen, wood gradually turns to stone as the log begins to rot. When these logs eventually work their way up to the surface, they appear petrified.
The Valley of Fire has a petrified logs loop that visitors can hike and view the aftermath of the process for themselves. The trail is only 0.5 km long and passes a number of logs. The trailhead is located just after the turn-off for Campground Road, and you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for a gravel track on the right with petrified log signs. The trailhead is not available on Google Maps, but you can always drop by the visitor center if you get stuck.
8. Crazy Hill Trail
Only 1 km long with 23 meters in elevation, the Crazy Hill trail is a good option for beginners. The ‘hill’ is a large sandstone mound shaped by erosion over millions of years. It is an abstract natural attraction, and the bizarre mix of colors is fascinating and well worth walking to.
Again, you will find it best to visit in softer light hours like sunset or sunrise. It only takes around ten minutes to hike the Crazy Hill trail, so you could always squeeze it in at the end of your day in the Valley of Fire. The trailhead is centrally located on Mouse’s Tank Road, which is helpful when slotting it into your itinerary.
9. Natural Arches Trail
Ready for a challenge? Natural Arch trail is a 6.8 km out and back route that takes approximately an hour and a half to complete depending on your fitness. The prize of the trail sadly fell due to erosion, but the Natural Arches trail still has beautiful views and other arches to see for those who are up to the challenge.
The challenge is the thick sand, which makes hiking much more difficult. The Natural Arch trailhead is easy to find and marked on Google Maps. You’ll find a car park if you turn off the Valley of Fire Highway. It is located between the historic cabins and Elephant Rock.
10. Top of the World Arch Trail
The Top of the World Arch trail is relatively short but definitely not sweet. At 7 km long, you might be forgiven for thinking this trail is a medium-difficulty option. However, the route is entirely unmarked and requires a lot of navigational skills. You’ll need to arrive armed with an offline navigational app and you should know how to read a map with orienteering skills.
The trail has a real backcountry atmosphere and is fantastic for giving you the ‘desert hike’ experience. Plus, there is a huge sandstone arch halfway to keep you motivated. Allow around two hours to complete the trail, although longer if you doubt your sense of direction. Expect a lot of giggles, pack water, and time your hike with midday temperatures in mind.
11. Prospect Trail
Got the fitness and motivation for a longer trail? Good for you. Prospect trail is a 15 km out and back trail that is considered moderately challenging and requires plenty of scrambling. You’ll need a sturdy pair of shoes and be willing to get stuck in.
It isn’t all challenge after challenge, though. Walking the Prospect trail is one of the most popular things to do in the Valley of Fire for a reason; it has stunning views over the state park. You’ll spot the Fire Canyon, Arch Rock, and Atlatl Rock from the summit of Prospect trail pass.
Don’t miss the trailhead, as it is easy to drive past. Pass the two turn-offs for Arch Rock Campground and look for a small gravel parking lot by the roadside. Google Maps should help and has the trail marked.
12. Rainbow Vista Trail
The Rainbow Vista trail is an easy hike that leads you to a viewpoint overlooking Fire Canyon. At only 2km long, allow around half an hour to complete this out and back walk, plus a little longer to admire the views. The trail is well-maintained and easy to navigate – ideal for beginners or those short on time.
Rainbow Vista can be combined with a hike through Fire Canyon, as it provides a different perspective. The mixture of colors is beautiful, especially during hours of softer lighting. You may wish to hike this trail at sunrise or sunset.
Start the trail at the Rainbow Vista parking lot. Rainbow Vista parking lot can be found along Mouse’s Tank Road, just five minutes drive from the Valley of Fire Visitor Center.
13. Mouse’s Tank Trail
You’ve heard a lot about Mouse’s Tank Road so far, but what about the trail that gave it its namesake? Mouse’s Tank trail is only 1.2 km long, yet one of the most entertaining things to do in the Valley of Fire.
Mouse’s Tank trail is a sandy track through the base of a canyon. You can experience the feeling of walking through a canyon – which is a must-do if you haven’t done so before. However, Mouse’s Tank also has hundreds of petroglyphs. If you enjoy learning about ancient history or are an art enthusiast, you should definitely consider hiking this trail.
14. Fire Canyon Trail
Fire Canyon is a fantastic addition if you want to make the Mouse’s Tank trail more challenging. Simply continue past the Mouse’s Tank and take the path further. You’ll eventually reach Fire Canyon Wash – a stunning section with a blur of orange and red along the canyon walls.
The Fire Canyon extension is challenging, and you should be prepared for scrambling and narrows to navigate. At 11.5 km, Fire Canyon is no easy feat, especially in hot weather. You’ll need to carefully plan your hike and time it to coincide with cooler temperatures. The route takes three to four hours to complete, depending on where you turn around and how long you stop at attractions along the way.
15. Silica Dome Trail
Silica Dome is one of the most unique natural attractions in the Valley of Fire. Visiting is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in the park. The dome is a bright white, thanks to its geological composition. The high silica concentration gives the Silica Dome its white color, which is a stunning contrast to the orange and red sandstone scenery around it.
The Silica Dome trail is less than 2 km long and takes around thirty minutes to complete. Be prepared to climb the dome itself, so the final section is quite steep. However, anyone with a moderate fitness level should easily complete the trail – as long as they have water and a sturdy pair of boots. Of course, allow yourself longer to admire the dome and the views from the top.
Silica Dome is accessed by the trailhead at the end of Fire Canyon Road. The road is easily reached, and you take a right onto Fire Canyon Road after turning off the highway down Mouse’s Tank Road.
Best Viewpoints in the Valley of Fire State Park
If you want to visit Valley of Fire State Park, you don’t need to grab your hiking boots if you don’t want to. This section covers all the best viewpoints in the park.
You can easily drive to these attractions and they are reachable from the roadside. It is safe to say that you won’t be missing out, and none of these options involve walking further than 500 feet.
16. Atlatl Rock
Ready for some history? Atlatl Rock is a massive sandstone rock covered in ancient petroglyphs. Atlatl Rock is accessed by a short trail only around 250 feet long, and that primarily consists of metal steps.
To help visitors see all the Atlatl Rock petroglyphs, a further metal staircase has been constructed into the side of the rock face. You can climb the final set of stairs to reach a viewpoint where you can get close to all the etchings.
The viewing area is a nice touch and helpful for those with limited eyesight. Atlatl Rock is our top recommendation if you want a rewarding viewpoint in the Valley of Fire. It is conveniently located off the Valley of Fire Highway on the smaller Campground Road.
17. Fire Cave
Fire Cave is just a short drive from Atlatl Rock, and you may wish to visit them both simultaneously. Fire Cave is an immersive, photogenic, and exciting attraction. Located just next to the road, it is a convenient place to quickly visit a natural attraction.
Fire Cave is also known as Windstone Arch, but it is definitely different from the other arches that you’ll see in the Valley of Fire. The arch is in the cave, hidden from sight from the road. You’ll need to head along Campground Road with sharp eyes and specific instructions to find this special viewpoint.
Rather than having a formal viewing area, visitors can enter the Fire Cave itself. Find the little entrance hole and marvel at the bright orange, curving cave walls up close.
18. Seven Sisters
You must include the Seven Sisters on your itinerary when you visit Valley of Fire State Park. The seven sandstone rock formations are impressive rock towers, left standing alone following millions of years of erosion. The scenery is otherworldly, and you’ll feel like you’ve leaped straight into a film set.
The Seven Sisters are a fantastic roadside attraction. You can reach the rocks in seconds, so it is perfect for those who don’t want to hike in the Valley of Fire. You’ll see the Seven Sisters just after passing the turn-off for Mouse’s Tank Road.
Valley of Fire Common FAQs
Now that we’ve covered the best things to do in the Valley of Fire let’s take a quick look at some common FAQs.
How to get to the Valley of Fire State Park
The easiest way to reach the Valley of Fire is by flying into Las Vegas and renting a car. You can fly directly into the city from most international departure cities and easily take an internal flight from different US states. From the city center, just drive north for thirty minutes, turning onto the Valley of Fire Scenic Byway to enter the park. The round trip should take less than two hours, although you should allow a full day (or multiple days if you want to camp) to explore the park.
Alternatively, you could fly into Las Vegas and book one of the many Valley of Fire tours. A Valley of Fire day trip tour includes transfers and is a good option for those who can’t drive or don’t want to worry about navigating their way to the Valley of Fire.
Lastly, you could take a road trip to the Valley of Fire. By far the most adventurous option, road tripping to the Valley of Fire is best suited to those with the freest time.For more inspiration, you can check out our guides on the best US road trips here.
How to Visit as a Day Trip from Las Vegas
One of the most popular Las Vegas activities is visiting the Valley of Fire as a day trip. If you want things to do outside the Las Vegas strip (which we have a complete guide on here), escaping the city’s chaos for a day is a refreshing addition to your itinerary. Since you’ll likely fly into Las Vegas to visit the state park, why not combine the two? A Valley of Fire day trip, here you come.
It is a 1.5-hour round trip to the Valley of Fire from Las Vegas city center, taking forty minutes each way. You can easily rent a car in Las Vegas, and we recommend renting a car so you can explore the park independently and at leisure. You’ll have more choice about where and how long you can stop, plus a greater sense of freedom and adventure.
Of course, you could also book one of the park tours if you don’t fancy driving. The tours leave from Las Vegas and often offer hotel pick-up services, which is brilliant if you want the ultimate convenience. You’ll have a set route, so you won’t need to plan an itinerary either – perfect if you are taking a last-minute trip or just dislike planning trips.
Getting Around the Valley of Fire State Park
Sorry public transport lovers, to get around the Valley of Fire, you will need a car or coach. As we’ve covered above, your two options are to rent a car or book a tour from Las Vegas. You won’t be able to explore on foot, and there are definitely no buses or trains running around the Valley of Fire.
Luckily navigating your way around the park is easy. Google Maps is good to have on standby, but you shouldn’t need it as there is one just main road that runs through the whole park. It is worth mentioning that you should download a map of the park, though, as mobile service can be patchy.
You can check the official websites for road closures, specific entrance fees, and weather warnings.
Best Time to Visit the Valley of Fire State Park
Before we get to the best time to visit the Valley of Fire, let’s just say avoid visiting in the summer months. The Valley of Fire is in the desert, and in the summer months, the heat becomes unbearable and sometimes dangerous. Trust us when we say hiking or even driving through the Valley of Fire in summer is unpleasant.
Similarly, you will find a camping limit at most group campsites in spring and fall. During these periods, the park is much busier, and you will find more crowds at each attraction and booked-out campsites. This could be a positive if you are a solo female traveler looking for safety in numbers, but if you don’t want a crowd, skip spring and fall.
So, when is the best time to visit? Winter. In December and January, the average temperature is 14 degrees Celsius – ideal for hiking and long, relaxing drives. And if that sounds a bit too chilly, just plan a trip in November when the temperatures are an average of 19 degrees Celsius. Winter has the coolest temperatures and barely any crowds, which is a win-win if you ask us.
The Valley of Fire is an exciting Nevada State Park and one of the best places to visit in the US. Whether you take a tour from Las Vegas, camp for a weekend, or rent a car to drive yourself for the day, you’ll have memories to last a lifetime.
There are endless things to do in the Valley of Fire, and these eighteen are just the best of a fantastic bunch of options. We hope you have a wonderful time visiting the Valley of Fire.
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