Dedicated in 1935, Valley of Fire State park in southern Nevada is the states oldest park. Covering 46,000 acres, Valley of Fire is accurately named. Upon entering the park, you’ll be greeted by giant towers of red rock and cliffs that look like they were made for climbing. This was the first stop on our 13 days of travel through southern Nevada, southern Utah, and northern Arizona.
We had left from Vegas at around 7 am to make the 1-hour drive to the park. We drove through the gorgeous Moapa valley views and desert landscapes until we arrived at the massive red rocks that let us know we’ve arrived! When entering the park, you’ll have to pay a park entrance fee of $10 per car. We spent our first night in the park as well, so we paid an extra $10 for our campsite fee. There are two campgrounds in the state park; Atlatl and Arch Rock. Both campgrounds in the park are first come first serve, but if you get there in the morning you’ll have your pick. We were there the second week of May and had plenty of options in both grounds. We chose to stay at the Arch Rock campground because it had incredible views and plenty of sites, each with water, grills, picnic tables, and metal overhangs which we were very grateful for in the desert sun.
Once we arrived at the campsite around 8 am, we broke out our burners and JetBoils and made breakfast. After breakfast, our first move was to drive on over to the visitors center! If there is one thing you’ll learn about us, it’s that we love visitors centers. First of all, it’s where they have the patches that we collect, second of all, they have all the awesome info we could ever ask for. And last but not least, they’re staffed by awesome park rangers who will tell you exactly where to go and what to do to get the most out of your day – shout out to you guys!
The first stop on our tour of the Valley of Fire was the boasted “mini wave.” Most people are familiar real the real Wave monument in Arizona, but with very minimal permits given out, it is extremely hard to score a visit to this photographers dream. So, a lot of people love being able to visit the similar mini wave at no trouble to them in this easy access state park. The Fire Wave is a short and simple trail, 1.5 miles out and back, easy for members of the whole family to explore.
We then headed off to the Prospect Trail. The Prospect Trail is 11 miles round-trip, and we were definitely warned to be ready for this one! We did not plan to do the whole thing; we just wanted to walk a few miles in and out to see the trail itself. We did go off-trail to explore a couple times, and the it was not a disappointment! It was our first taste of desert hiking, and we might not have taken it as seriously as we should have… Being from Florida, we thought we were well prepared for the heat, but we weren’t prepared for desert heat! After taking a humorous picture with the “heat warning” sign, we proceeded to run out of water and have a very desperate hike back. We absolutely learned our lesson, and on every hike after that, even if it was 2 miles, we filled up our 2 liter hydration reservoirs… Every. Single. Time.
When we got back to camp, we patiently awaited the arrival of our favorite married couple, Kim and Alex, as they were just arriving in Vegas while we were hiking. They picked up their car, and drove straight to meet us at Valley of Fire. We didn’t have any cell phone service, so it was kind of fun to sit around and wait for them! Every time we heard a car, we would all perk up to run and see if it was them. After countless cars, imagine our excitement when they finally pulled up… With plenty beer in tow. Needless to say, they are the perfect addition to any group!
Our campsite was perfect for sleeping in hammocks! We had originally set up tents, but 5 of the people in our for-now 7 person group had brought a hammock, while Kim and Alex took the tent pad. We hung the hammocks, and we couldn’t have picked a better spot. We took showers at the campground bathroom, and ended the day on a cliff by our camp watching the sunset. We made dinner, climbed in our hammocks, and passed out for our first night! We experienced some harsh winds that night, which we discovered is common in most of the valleys, and I think all of us woke up a few times trying to shield ourselves. Yet, waking up to the orange sunrise over the red rocks that surrounded us was quite the way to wake up. We woke up ready to tackle day 2, wondering how this trip was going to top our first day. Little did we know, it was just going to get better and better.