Home is where we are parked

Home is where we are parked
Home is where we are parked

Friday, January 3, 2020

NV -- Valley of Fire, 8-15 Dec 2019

A week in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada…

Why we came…

To hike in the dramatic red rock formations of Valley of Fire.

Valley of Fire State Park

“World-renowned for its 40,000 acres of bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops nestled in gray and tan limestone, Valley of Fire State Park contains ancient, petrified trees and petroglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years.”

The Campground… 

There are two campgrounds that have 72 first-come, first-served sites.  About 20 of the sites in the Atlatl Campground have electric and water.  The others have no hook-ups.  The campground stayed about 80% full during our stay.  We felt fortunate that we were able to get an electric and water site.  We arrived about 2pm in the afternoon and there were just three sites available in Atlatl.

The campsites were great!  It was really cool being tucked into the dramatic and colorful rock formations.  They were huge with plenty of space between neighbors, but most of them were a bit unlevel. We also had a shaded table and a grill.

Bathroom and shower facilities were nice and there was a dump station near the campground entrance.

Satellite reception should be fine from all of the sites, but we had minimal to no cell phone signal.  They do have a fee based wi-fi.  It cost $30 for 5GB of data for 3 devices.

Nearby towns

Overton: Overton is a small town 15 miles and a half hour drive to the north.  Its population is less than 2,000.  We have never visited but research shows that there is a grocery store and three gas stations.

Las Vegas: Las Vegas is 50 miles or an hour drive to the southwest.  That huge congested city has all services and shopping.


Unfortunately, Shawn’s back started to get tight while we were in Kanab.  Moving from Kanab and riding in the truck only exasperated it.  He wasn’t able to hike with me all week.  Each morning and again in the afternoon we’d go for a short walk together around the campground.

The Pinnacles 

“The Pinnacles” Trailhead was a quick half mile walk from the campground.  The route starts in the open desert and follows several different washes.  I had to keep an eye out for the next trail marker because the trail itself has washed away with the rains.  Along the way there are several large rocks sitting out on the plain like the earth had sprung holes and the inner earth oozed up.

The Pinnacles were masked by a grey limestone ridge.  After a mile and a half of walking across the plain, the curtain was pulled back and the red craggy rock formations appeared.  There are caves and arches in every pillar.  You can imagine characters and faces everywhere.

To finish the hike, I circled back around the ridge, and walked up a wash for about a mile and then followed the trail markers across an open plain back to the trailhead.

I did not see another person on the five and half mile trail.  I enjoyed the scenery, the solitude and the peace so much that I did the hike again a few days later.  On that day, I saw an incredible full-curl Desert bighorn ram.

White Domes 

The White Dome area on the north side of the park is unique.  A lot of the iron in these ancient sandstone dunes has leeched out.  The orange, pink, and white stripes add to the drama of the area.

The first part of the trail is through deep sand.  After about 300 yards, I scampered up some slickrock to get a break from the sand and to get a better overview of the trail ahead.  Below me I could see the old movie set for the 1966 film, The Professionals.  Other movies filmed at Valley of Fire include Star Trek – Generations and Stephen King’s “The Stand”.

After walking through the movie set, I entered the “Narrows”, a short but fun slot canyon.  The trail takes a right here to make a loop back to the parking area.

But I continued straight along a wash area and to the “Prospector” Trail.  I followed this for a mile marveling as the scenery changed every mile with the orange sweet potato and white marshmallow rock formations.  Finally the trail entered a narrow rock canyon area and started to climb.

I had a great view near the top and found a comfortable rock to take a break on.  Amazingly,  I had a weak cell phone signal and was able to send Shawn a few texts.

I retraced my steps to the White Domes Trail.

I paused near some incredible lavender colored rocks to get a good panoramic picture.  As I was moving the camera, I noticed a few rocks move.  What?!  On second look, I realized there was a group of three Desert bighorn rams.  I stopped and just admired them.  One climbed up a rock, posed for me, then laid down.

There were two ladies coming up the trail and I pointed the sheep out to them.  They stopped, gasped, and then the lead lady exclaimed, “What?  That’s not real, is it?”  Then they profusely thanked me for sharing with them.

I completed the loop with a smile on my face, with the memory of the incredible scenery and the sheep fresh on my mind.

See the bighorn ram?
See the bighorn ram?
Thanks for posing big guy!

I had only seen 4 people on the Prospector Trail the day before as compared to dozens of folks on the White Dome Trail.  I was in the mood for reflection and meditation so I returned to the Prospector Trail.  But I started on the southern end, an easy mile-long walk from the campground.

Prospect Trail is 5.5 mile long and runs from near the Petrified Logs and north to White Domes.  I set out to do a few miles, not the entire 11 miles out and back trail.

After the mile walk to the trailhead, it was another mile-long walk across the open plain riddled with washes.  Finally, I entered the red rocks.  The tall, curved red pillars here appear as petrified fire.  It was clear how the park got its name.

I hiked up and down through the red rock formations for a mile.  I found a good break spot where I could see the marshmallow rocks to the north.

I had not seen another hiker and was completely by myself.  It was so quiet - I could hear the erosion of the rock formations around me.  It was the ideal spot for reflection and prayer.  I returned two days later to the same spot.  And again I had it all to myself.  Awe…

On the way back I found an old telephone maintenance line that I was able to follow back to the Pinnacles trailhead and closer to the campground.  This saved me from having to walk on the highway.

I was in a hurry to get back home and go with my mountain man on a walk around the campground.  I was really missing his company.

After Valley of Fire we spent two weeks in Boulder City NV to visit friends and are currently in Camp Verde AZ. Our next stop is Tuscon.

Parting shots