Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada is one of those stunningly beautiful places that few people care to go to, unless you live nearby.
As it is, travelers moving between Las Vegas, NV and St. George, UT are content to remain on the I-15, believing that seeing the majestic red rock formations is something they’ll save for a later time, but never do.
Taking the half-loop into the park and back adds only an extra 90 minutes to your travel time, along with an extra $10.00 per vehicle entrance fee, but it provides for some amazing views of Mother Nature’s artistry.
Valley of Fire State Park has often been used in movies and television for its red, arid, empty landscape, including The Professionals (1966), Cherry 2000 (1987), Total Recall (1990), along with other television shows and automobile commercials.
What makes the red rocks red? The formations are made of Aztec Sandstone from 180-190 million years ago. These were ancient sand dunes during the Jurassic period. Other sediment and minerals leached into the sand dunes and “lithified”, meaning it turned into sedimentary rock. The red color is due to the presence of iron oxide or hematite. Exposure to the air caused the iron minerals to oxidize, or rust, creating the red, orange, and brown colored rocks.
There are designated camping areas within the park, and numerous hiking trails to interesting rock formations.
There are no facilities at the park aside from covered picnic tables. Bring your own water and food.
The ride through the park runs only 10 miles. However, the half-circular route from the I-15 at Exit 75 back to the I-15 at Exit 93 runs 43.5 miles, and goes through the towns of Overton and Moapa Valley, where you can find gasoline, restaurants, and bars.
Sash and I rode through Valley of Fire State Park on October 1, where temperatures were mild for Nevada, running about mid-80s. As a result, traffic was relatively heavy with campers and hikers.
Valley of Fire State Park is perhaps the Earth’s best representation of the Martian landscape. If only the sky were red too, you might be convinced you were stuck on the red planet if you woke up here from a coma.
Valley of Fire State Park