Valley of Fire Close to Las Vegas - 7 Tips and Hikes

Valley of Fire Close to Las Vegas - 7 Tips and Hikes

United States
United States

When Is the Best Time

The Valley of Fire is an explosion of colours just an hour from Las Vegas. The wintertime is the quietest. This park is magical, constantly changing with the sunlight. The best pictures can be taken at sunrise, later in the afternoon, and sunset. 

The Fire Wave and its fantastic structure in Valley of Fire
The Fire Wave close to the road and parking Google Maps Location - photo by Ray

If you wish to visit, the park, come here for the entire day and bring your lunch in a cooler. Don't miss these spectacular vistas even if you have just a couple of hours available. And check out my two top tips below!

Valley of Fire Weather

Red sandstone rock in the desert like state park
Red Aztec sandstone in the Valley of Fire State Park

The state park has a warm and arid climate due to its location in the Mojave Desert. I only categorize the weather and temperatures in the Valley of Fire in three seasons. Why? The summer lasts much longer, and the climate is utterly different to the typical four seasons. I try to give you an idea of the best time with the most pleasant temperatures for an outstanding experience in the Valley of Fire.

Boiling in the Summer (May-September)

The desert like landscape in the Valley of Fire

May to September temperatures range on average from 33°C/91°F to an unpleasant heat topping 42°C/108°F in the shade. Although it cools down a little without the sunshine, nights are still warm. In May and September, temperatures are below 20°C/68°F at night. From June to August, night temperatures are above 20°C/68°F. Sometimes thunderstorms and downpours occur. The summer is the hottest and sunniest time of the year.

The Valley of Fire view through a window arch to the sun
The sunrise is the perfect time in the summer. Photo by Ray

If you wish to visit in the summer, the best daytime for exploring the Valley of Fire is early morning and continue late in the afternoon. The midday heat is too hot for hiking and exploring. Usually, the Fire Wave and Seven Wonders trail gets closed during the extreme summer heat. What means early morning? Sunrise is around 5.30 am so get up at 5 am and enjoy this wonderful landscape before it gets oven hot. sunrise and sunset times

Bearable in the Transition Time in Spring and Autumn

Valley of Fire view from the distance

April and October range from 26-29°C/79-84°F during the day. Night temperatures are cooler on average, around 10°C/50°F. Occasional showers occur in April and October. It is rare to experience overcast days. The spring highlights are the blooming plants like the desert marigold, indigo bush or desert mallow.

Pleasant in the Winter (November-March)

An Arch in the Valley of Fire

The best time to visit the Valley of Fire is November to March. During winter the temperatures are mild ranging from 15-23°C/59°F-73°F during the day.

'The Fire Wave at sunrise
Tranquil in the early morning - photo by Ray

November and March are topping 20°C/68°F. It is the perfect time for hiking and exploring the valley. Nights are chilly temperatures are around freezing. It is the coolest and most pleasant time with occasional light showers and overcast days. Rain occurs, but you are in the desert it is not an issue here. Is there snow in the winter?  It is rare but happens sometimes, and you need to drive carefully on the roads. 

Avoiding the Crowds

The Valley of Fire Highway and the White Domes

The park is busier during the colder season, especially from February to late May. Both campgrounds are filled up before midday. Weekends are more crowded than weekdays. It's less busy in the summer as many visitors want to avoid the heat during the day. The winter is the best option to enjoy the desert landscape without the crowds.

A window in a ruin offering an excellent view to the Valley of Fire
The fantastic Valley of Fire - Photo by Ray

However, it's a lot busier in winter than in the summer months. Always keep in mind, it’s a State Park and not a National Park, therefore often underestimated. Limited parking at all stops: Arrive either early (before 9 a.m.) or late (after 6 p.m.) during the peak season. Overflow parking is available.

Opening Hours for the Valley of Fire State Park and Visitor Center

The Valley of Fire State Park Entrance Sign

  • The Valley of Fire State Park is open from sunrise to sunset. This means the Fire Wave and Seven Wonders trail are open from sunrise to sunset. Closed during extreme temperatures in summer.
  • The Visitor Center is open from 8.30 am until 4.30 pm.
    It's a small and lovely visitor centre. They provide you with information about the history. Grab a map to avoid missing any outstanding sandstone rock formations. Also, a short film about the State Park is shown.

2 Top Tips

A face that looks like it’s sticking out it’s tongue close to the Valley of Fire
This is Little Finland (Google Maps location)

Little Finland is just up the road from the Valley of Fire in Gold Butte easy to reach with 4x4. Continue down the mud wash and take a right which takes you to the parking lot  Getting there by 2WD is a much longer route of more than 2 hours drive. This tip and photo are by the fantastic photographer Ray Downs. Check out his website for more of such excellent pictures.

Valley of Fire Beehives Rock Formation

Pay attention to the speed limit like the 35 mph in the picture above; the Highway is frequently patrolled!!

Where to Stay

Las Vegas by night

This question is easy to answer; either you camp in this outstanding scenery or you stay in Las Vegas. Check out some of the best hotels in this vibrant city in the desert. 

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Location and Tips

Nevada, Las Vegas
United States
United States

The Valley of Fire is the oldest Nevada State Park established in 1935. The park has a size of 19 thousand ha. The valley is famous for bright red Aztec sandstone formations and petroglyphs. Rock art from a prehistoric culture can be found at several locations within the park, like Atlatl Rock, dating back 2.500 years ago. 

Balancing Rock in the Valley of Fire State Park
Balancing Rock

The scenic landscape with incredible rock formations and narrow slot canyons is mind-blowing. The Nevada Scenic Byway leads through the park, offering plenty of hikes for all levels. Very popular are Balancing Rock, Elephant Rock, and Arch Rock. Take plenty of water for hiking.

Hiking Map

7 Tips and Hikes

A man walking at Elephant Rock
Elephant Rock next to the Valley of Fire Hwy
  1. Don’t miss the colourful Fire Wave close to the road. The trail is less than 2 km/1.5 miles long. Fire Wave location at Google Maps
  2. Drive the loop around the campgrounds with some of the most magnificent arches.
  3. The White Domes Loop Trail leads through a short slot canyon.
  4. Short trails close to the road to the Beehives and Mouse's Tank.
  5. A picturesque hidden gem is the Pink Canyon close to the Fire Wave.
  6. Another highlight is the petroglyphs inside the State Park.
  7. Rock climbing is possible; please register at the Information Center first.

 

Rock formations Valley of Fire

The State Park is a popular filming location well known from different movies like Star Trek Generations, Transformers, Airwolf, Total Recall, Viva Las Vegas, etc.

Entrance fee: $ 10 per car

 

Camping

A tent with a beautiful night sky in the desert

There are two campgrounds beautiful located in the Valley of Fire National Park. Both are on a first-come, first-serve basis and are equipped with flush toilets and coin-operated showers. Each site has a sheltered picnic table, BBQ, and firepit. Bring all supplies; there is nothing available inside the park. Check-in with a simple form plus the entrance fee in cash and put the envelope into a dropbox.

The campgrounds are busy in spring, fall and at weekends. It’s recommended to arrive at midday. Weekdays are less crowded, and you can choose one of the different sites. Summer is less busy because of the heat. 

  • Atlatl Rock Campground:
    Picturesquely located at red sandstone formations where stairs lead to the top with a spectacular view. This campground has 43 sites, some with water and power hook-ups, some are basic.
  • Arch Rock Campground:
    More primitive campground and smaller with 29 sites.
     

Three Most Asked Questions

The Cabins in the Valley of Fire

  1. Why is it called Valley of Fire? 
    The red sandstone formations look like the entire valley is on fire during sunset. 
  2. How much time should I spend in the Valley of Fire?
    From my own experience spent here at least an entire day until sunset. There are several awesome hikes available. Bring a cooler and prepare your lunch at one of the BBQ areas in this beautiful scenery. If travelling by camper, stay a night and enjoy the outstanding night sky and sunrise as well. Stargazing is spectacular in the desert. 
  3. What makes camping here so unique?
    The breathtaking night sky and the sound of silence! If you are coming from Las Vegas, you appreciate the silence even more.
     

Is the Valley of Fire Worth Visiting?

The Wave formation at Valley of Fire

Yes, and I am sure you are convinced after reading my article. Please, don't come in a rush; spend at least an entire day in this fascinating landscape. 

Pictures were provided by my friend and photographer Chris and the wonderful Ray Downs.

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Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
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I am always open, curious about new…