Nevada is secretly a truly awesome and underrated state. While it is most famous for being the home of the world's Sin City and gambling capital, it is actually an outdoors paradise. It boasts eyewatering attractions including half of Lake Tahoe, The Great Basin National Park, the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, and other attractions like the nuclear test site that one can tour (for free). Adding to its long list of attractions is Valley of Fire State Park. For those interested in exploring the nuclear test site, see here for how to visit the Nevada National Security Site for free.

THETRAVEL VIDEO OF THE DAY

The Valley of Fire State Park is a stunning landscape that earns its name from its red sandstone formations (known as the Aztec Sandstone). These were formed from shifting sand dunes some 150 million years ago and they often appear to be on fire as they reflect the sun's rays.

About The Valley of Fire State Park

It is Nevada's oldest state park and was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1968. Conveniently, it is an easy day trip from Las Vegas. It is only around 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas and is adjacent to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

  • Where: 50 Miles Or 80 Kilometers Northeast Of Las Vegas
  • Elevation: Between 1,320 and 3,009 Feet or 402 to 917 Meters
  • Size: 40,000 Acres

The Aztec sandstone outcrops that define the park are not the only things that the park has to offer. It also has petrified trees and ancient petroglyphs dating back some 2,000 years. The ancient petroglyphs that are etched into the rock are the legacy of the Ancestral Puebloan Indians that inhabited the Moapa Valley 2,500 or so years ago.

While at the Visitor Center, one can learn about the ecology, prehistory, geology, and the history of the park.

  • Best Time Of Day: The Red Sandstone Rock Formations Are At Their Most Spectacular At Sunset (They Appear To Be On Fire)

Related: Under Canvas Grand Canyon: Why This Arizona Glampsite Is The Best During The Fall

This is certainly a mesmerizing landscape full of stories of both America's geologic history and pre-history. Tour the park and be awe-struck by the towering arches, the magnificent overlooks, and the hidden passages within the park.

The petrified wood in the park dates from around 225 million years ago - that is from the Triassic Period (from the early years of the dinosaurs). They are found in two locations with some colorful tree trunks lying close to the road (they are fenced off so that all can enjoy them without damaging them). Petrified wood is formed as the wood fossilized ad all the organic parts of the wood have been replaced by minerals.

These petrified forests of logs and stumps are somewhat common in the West. If one wants to see some truly awe-inspiring petrified forests, visit the Petrified Forest National Park and its petroglyphs in Arizona.

Hiking Within The Park

There are around 10 hiking trails in the park. See here for a full Parks Nevada PDF map and info on the hiking trails. These hiking trails are all quite short and easy. Here are a few examples of the hikes within the park.

White Domes Hike

  • See: White Domes And Much of the Most Stunning Scenery In The Park
  • Length: 1.1 Miles Round Trip
  • Difficulty: Easy

Atlatl Rock Hike

  • See: The Valley of Fire's Petroglyph Hikes
  • Length: 0.1 Miles Round Trip
  • Difficulty: Easy

Mouse's Tank Hike

  • See: More Petroglyphs, The Mouse's Tank (A Natural Rock Basin)
  • Length: 0.7 Miles Round Trip
  • Difficulty: Easy

One should certainly add Valley of Fire State Park to one's trip to Las Vegas. Las Vegas may be a stunning city with a lot to see and do, there are numerous day trips that can really make one's visit much more interesting and well rounded.

Camping In The Park

Within the park are two campgrounds for those really wishing to take in and absorb this other-worldly landscape. The two campgrounds within the park contain a total of 72 units.

  • Camping Facilities: Grills, Water, Restrooms, Shaded Tables (Showers And A Dump Station Are Also Available)
  • Booking Basis: First-Come, First-Served
  • RV Camping: RV Sites With Power And Water Hookups Are Also Available Within The Park
  • Group-Use Campsites: There Are Three Group Use Campsites

Related: This Is The Best Month To Visit The Grand Canyon, And Which Tour To Take While You're There

Visiting The Park

  • Visitor Center Hours: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (The Rest Of The Park Closes At Sunset)
  • Wifi Access: There Is Also WiFi Access Within The Park For A Fee
  • Cost Admission: $10.00 Per Vehicle (Nevada Residents), $15.00 (Non-Nevada Residents)
  • Camping Fee: $20.00 Per Vehicle Per Night (Nevada Residents), $25.00 (Non-Nevada Residents)

To see more information about the park and any impact from the Covid-19 pandemic, check out the park's official website here.

Next: Is Las Vegas Really Overrated? Here's What First-Time Visitors Shouldn't Waste Their Time On