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Valley of Fire State Park is a Dreamland of Colors!

Just a little more than an hour drive to the northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada is a state park that will absolutely blow your mind! Valley of Fire State Park.

For outdoor/nature lovers, Las Vegas is actually a great place to anchor for a week. Within an hour drive from the strip you can tour Hoover Dam and Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Mojave National Preserve, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and of course Valley of Fire State Park. All of these destinations offer very unique scenery well worth your visit.

Valley of Fire State Park displays an array of color I've never seen anywhere before much less altogether in one park.

If you've visited other state and national parks in Red Rock Country and been awed by the beauty of the vibrant red and orange colors, you may want to add this place to your bucket list because Valley of Fire adds to that mix of colors yellow, blue, pink, and purple. It's hard to imagine these colors in stone and I wouldn't have believed it without seeing it myself first. Having seen it, I now recognize this park to be one of the most amazing and potentially the most under-rated park in the country...a true gem.

My first night there the sunset was epic. I couldn't believe my eyes. The sky alone was enough to get people to stop their cars along the road to watch. Add to that the play of colors that occurred on the multi-colored sandstone and the scene was like that from another planet. I put my camera down and just savored it. BIG MISTAKE! The next day it was overcast nearly the entire sunset for me. Needless to say, I'm eager to revisit this park soon to capture one of those magic moments.

There are several small, natural, stone arches inside the park that are worth a look. The two most notable are Arch Rock and Elephant Rock though you're likely to pass several others on trails. There is a small visitor center in the center of the park at the turnoff toward Rainbow Vista. Rainbow Vista is where the really exotic colors begin. We learned that campsites are available there but campers should be prepared for self-sufficiency since there's not much nearby to the park.

The Cabins were an interesting feature. Built at the bottom of a tall, nearly 90 degree rock, the Cabins were built in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a shelter for passing travelers. This area of the park is now used as a picnic area.

What I found to be the second most notable feature of this park, after the exotic-colored sandstone, was the number of petroglyphs. Atlatl Rock and nearly the entire trail to Mouse's Tank offer the most. On the trail, pay attention to the south-facing rocks high above the ground. It seemed to me that the harder to reach places offered the most to see. Bring a telephoto lens to shoot the petroglyphs on these walls.

A family portrait at Elephant Rock!

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