valley of fire fire wave

The Best of Valley of Fire—Sunrise to Sunset

Of all the state and national parks in Nevada, Valley of Fire remains a favorite for visitors and locals alike thanks to the fiery red sandstone formations swirling through the valley, ancient petroglyphs carved into its stones, and quick access from Las Vegas.

Valley of Fire State Park History

Ancient petroglyphs were carved into red sandstone rock formations at Valley of Fire State Park—a remnant from the Ancestral Puebloans living in and around the modern-day Moapa Valley area 2,500 years ago. By the mid-1860s, Mormon missionaries settled St. Thomas, which eventually wound up flooded by the waters of Lake Mead during construction of the Hoover Dam in the early 1930s.

valley of fire structures

In 1931, a transfer of 8,760 acres of federal land to the state of Nevada began the creation of Valley of Fire State Park. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the park from 1933 through the early 1940s, making campgrounds, stone cabins, trails, and roads. The park opened in 1934 and was officially designated Valley of Fire State Park in 1935, becoming Nevada’s first state park.

How Valley of Fire Got Its Name

valley of fire road
man on a motorcycle valley of fire

Before Valley of Fire became a designated Nevada State Park, a road was built through the valley as part of the Arrowhead Trail to connect Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. In the 1920s, “Valley of Fire” was named by a AAA official who was traveling the road at sunset and reportedly explained that the entire region looked like it was on fire.

Valley of Fire, Nevada Must-Sees

valley of fire elephant rock
Elephant Rock

Those hoping to discover more about the valley’s history will find a great visitor center that features comprehensive interpretive displays and exhibits with information on local ecology, geology, and prehistory. More can’t-miss recommendations include: 

  • Elephant Rock, located next to the east entrance (It resembles an elephant and is hard to miss!)
  • Arch Rock, which can be seen from the Scenic Loop near Atlatl Rock
  • Fire Wave, which is probably one of the most gorgeous spots in the Valley of Fire and features white and red zebra stripes that create incredible photo opportunities
  • Valley of Fire Scenic Byway, providing striking views whether you’re on two or four wheels

Valley of Fire Hikes

Located in the Mojave Desert, Valley of Fire State Park is home to 46,000 acres of red Aztec sandstone, formed by shifting sand dunes 150 million years ago. The stunning landscape glows red for miles into the horizon and is particularly beautiful at sunset. With elevations ranging from 1,500 feet to 3,000 feet, here are some popular Valley of Fire hikes that are easily accessible to visitors who want to explore Valley of Fire from Las Vegas as a day trip, or for those who are camping in the park.

White Domes Hike

white domes hike
women on white domes hike

A wander through Valley of Fire State Park’s many fascinating trails will take visitors past incredible formations like White Domes, which are white sandstone rock formations known for their brilliantly contrasting color. Hike the White Domes Trail, which is a loop that shows off the park’s stunning scenery (including desert vistas) and reveals the namesake colors of the rock, a slot canyon, caves, and even a historic movie site where the 1966 film “The Professionals” was shot.

Distance: 1.1 miles round trip
Difficulty: Beginner

See the Valley of Fire’s Petroglyph Hikes

Atlatl Rock Hike

Atlatl Rock is another ultra-accessible site in Valley of Fire with amazing examples of prehistoric petroglyphs. An atlatl is a tool used to launch a spear, and ancient Native Americans of the Pueblo culture carved symbols of the atlatl in the sandstone located at Atlatl Rock.

Distance: 0.1 miles round trip
Difficulty: Beginner

Mouse’s Tank Hike

mouse's tank hike
prehistoric  petroglyphs

Don’t miss a hike to Mouse’s Tank, which is a natural rock basin in a canyon where rainwater collects. You can hike from the trailhead to Mouse’s Tank and back and see prehistoric petroglyphs along the trail.

Distance: 0.7 miles round trip
Difficulty: Beginner

Download the complete list and map of Valley of Fire trails.

Valley of Fire Camping

Valley of Fire State Park is especially stunning in the early morning and at golden hour. Experience these magic moments for yourself by camping overnight in the park. Two Valley of Fire campgrounds offer a total of 72 sites with shaded tables, grills, water, and restrooms. Showers and a dump station are available, too. Three group-use campsites can each accommodate up to 45 people. RV campsites also have power and water hookups available.

Travel Nevada Pro Tip

Valley of Fire is Nevada’s most visited state park, making it one of the most popular camping spots in the Silver State. Campsite reservations are highly recommended and can be made through Reserve Nevada.

camping in valley of fire

Shady picnic spots with nearby restrooms can be found at Atlatl Rock, Seven Sisters, White Dome, and the Cabins, which are historic stone structures built with native sandstone in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Whether you’re coming from across the country, across the world, or just driving up to Valley of Fire from Las Vegas for the day, the park is accessible to everyone.

valley of fire bighorns
valley of fire family hiking

Valley of Fire Weather

While winter temperatures range from freezing to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, Valley of Fire State Park weather over the summer often has highs exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (yet it can be cool at night). The landscape offers little shade, so plan your hikes ahead and pack your water, hat, and sunscreen. Annual rainfall averages four inches.

Travel Nevada Pro Tip

The best time to visit the park is between October and April when temperatures are cooler. If you visit Valley of Fire in the summer, plan for many annual trail closures May through September due to extreme temperatures.

Valley of Fire Visitor Center

Before you venture through the park’s beautiful red rocks, pop into the Valley of Fire visitor center for fascinating exhibits covering the geology, ecology, and history of the region. Here is where you can also pick up souvenirs like postcards, books, and more. The visitor center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., while the rest of Valley of Fire State Park closes at sunset.


Valley of Fire State Park is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Campers have 24-hour access to the Valley of Fire campgrounds. 


Day-use admission to Valley of Fire State Park is $10 for Nevada residents and $15 for out-of-state vehicles. Those on bicycles can enter for $2 per bike. Campsites are $20 per night for Nevada residents and $25 per night for out-of-state vehicles. Any campsite with utility hookups is an extra $10 per night.

This Location:

Southern Nevada, Nevada


Southern Nevada