valley of fire

Guide to Visiting Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada’s first state park, is located only 50 miles from Las Vegas. The park is one of the most famous collections of eroded sandstone formations in the world. Many people believe it deserves National Park status!  

Open since 1934, this 40,000 acre playland contains 2,500 year old petroglyphs, petrified trees, natural arches, numerous hiking trails, a campground, and much more. All this beauty is contained within a maze of beautiful red Aztec sandstone and ancient limestone mountains. The park borders Lake Mead and is found within the Mojave Desert.  

Besides the striking natural beauty, the park displays the rich history of the region. This ranges from the pre-Ancestral Puebloan Basketmaker culture, to the Paiute tribes, to and early Morman settlers that called the area home. a

A visit to Valley of Fire is a fun day trip for anyone visiting Sin City. And to make the most of your visit we’ve assembled this guide to help plan your trip to this otherworldly outpost.

 valley of fire state park

Valley of Fire History

Valley of Fire was once covered by an inland sea and, after those waters receded,  became a desert similar to the Sahara. The sand dunes that remained from the geological transformation formed into the signature red sandstone mountains that the park is now famous for.  

The park has seen human habitation since around 300 B.C. and the many petroglyph panels located in the park provide a visual representation of that history. The Basketmaker culture carved these pictures about 2,500 years ago. Paiutes inhabited this area when the early Mormons settlers established a ranching outpost near Valley of Fire. 

In 1914, a road was built through Valley of Fire as part of the Arrowhead Trail, a highway that connected Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. Valley of Fire State Park received its name when an early visitor on this road, an American Automobile Association representative,  commented that the entire valley appeared as if it were on fire during sunset. The catching and captivating name stuck.

 valley of fire las vegas

Where Is Valley of Fire and How Do Get To Valley of Fire From Las Vegas?

Valley of Fire State Park is approximately 45 minutes northeast of Las Vegas off Interstate I-5. 

There is one main road that runs through the entire, compact park; The Valley of Fire Scenic Byway. This road spans 11 miles from the west to east park entrances.

Best Time To Visit Valley of Fire

The best time to visit this desert destination to avoid the extreme heat of the summer is between October and April. October and February are the most beautiful months with cooler, sunny afternoons and evenings that are not too chilly.

If you are looking to avoid the peak crowd season, we recommend November, which can still bring fall-like temps, and February, which is a very beautiful month of gradual warming along with cool mornings and nights.

 valley of fire weather

Valley of Fire Weather

You can check out current Valley of Fire weather here. In general, the weather is most pleasant between late March to early October.

How Much Does It Cost To Enter Valley of Fire?

As a Nevada State Park, Valley of Fire does charge an entrance fee. 

Day use is $10 per vehicle ($15 for non-Nevada vehicles). 

If you are camping, fees are $20 per vehicle ($25 for non-Nevada vehicles) and an extra $10 a day for campsites with utility hook ups. 

If you are hiking or biking into the park, you’ll pay $2 per person.

Valley of Fire Hours

The park is open 365 days a year, from sunrise to sunset. You can check out sunrise and sunset times for Valley of Fire here.

 valley of fire camping

Things To Do At Valley of Fire

Here are the top 5 things to do on your visit to Valley of Fire.

  1. See the Petroglyphs- There are petroglyphs all over the park and the best place to see them in Valley of Fire State Park is along Petroglyph Canyon Trail.
  2. Hike to Mouse’s Tank- this short slickrock, scrambling route includes petroglyphs, natural arches, and deep indentations, called tanks, in the sandstone that collect rainwater. Mouse’s Tank is named for the tanks that were used by a Southern Paiute Indian named Little Mouse. He hid out in the area in the 1890s and used water from these natural tanks to survive in the harsh desert climate. 
  3. See Elephant Rock- in a region full of amazing rock formations, Elephant Rock might just win the prize for most unique. Accessible via an easy 0.3-mile hike near the park’s east entrance, this sandstone rock looks like an ancient beast and is a must see on your trip to Valley of Fire.
  4. Take in Big Views at ​​Rainbow Vista- the sandstone colors of the surrounding rocks cover the entire color spectrum on this hike. Hike to the Fire Canyon Overlook and enjoy some rock scrambling on the way up!
  5. See Atlatl Rock- the Atlatl Rock petroglyph panel is a collection of petroglyphs on a massive boulder inside Valley of Fire. A metal staircase allows visitors to climb fifty feet high and see the petroglyphs on the red sandstone up close. The trali is only about 250 feet long and starts from Atlatl Rock Picnic Area.
 valley of fire hikes

Camping at Valley of Fire

There are two campgrounds at Valley of Fire state park. All campsites are equipped with shaded tables and grills. Water, restrooms, showers, and a dump station are all also provided. Some of the 72 units are RV sites in these two campgrounds that offer power and water hookups. Three group campsites that can accommodate up to 45 people are available as well.

More information about Valley of Fire campsites can be found here.

Also note that beginning in 2023, Nevada will implement an online reservation system for campgrounds which will allow visitors to reserve spots in advance. Until then, all campgrounds remain first come, first served.

 valley of fire visitor center

Tips for Visiting Valley of Fire

Please use this handy Valley of Fire map to plan your excursions when visiting. 

Shaded areas with restrooms are located at Atlatl Rock, Seven Sisters, the Cabins, near Mouse's Tank Trailhead and White Domes.

Here are a few other considerations before you visit:

  • The park is open from sunrise to sunset unless you are camping in the park.
  • All artifacts are protected by state and federal law. Removing, disturbing or damaging any historic structure, artifact, rock, plant life, fossil or other feature is prohibited.
  • Pets are welcome, but they must be kept on a leash. Pets are not allowed in the Visitor Center.
  • The use of drones or any remote controlled aircraft is not allowed.

What To Bring To Valley of Fire

It’s recommended to bring the following items with you on your visit to Valley of Fire:

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Sunglasses
  • High SPF Sunscreen
  • Hat or Bandana
  • Camera equipment
 valley of fire sunset

Photography at Valley of Fire

Photographers travel from around the globe to capture the delicate light show that takes place on Valley of Fire’s colorful sandstone formations. 

Sunrise and sunset are an amazing display for glowing rocks and pyrotechnic skies. You’ll feel like you are on Mars walking through this remote, colorful landscape!

For photography, the best time to visit Valley of Fire State Park is in the morning. Specifically, you’ll want to arrive at sunrise if you’re up for it!

Here are three of the top locations in Valley of Fire to capture amazing photographs:

  • Fire Wave - Fire Wave is one of the most popular destinations in the park for photographers, especially at sunset. This sandstone hill is full of zebra-like red and white stripes and is a mind blowing location for setting up photo shoots. Fire Wave is reached from parking lot 3 off White Dome Road via a short hike. This location gets very busy so if you are able to get Fire Wave before the sun comes up, you might have it all to yourself!
  • Pink Canyon/ Pastel Canyon - This collection of colorful, curved walls is a favorite for many Valley of Fire visitors due to the bright colors and dense diversity of formations and angles. It is located at Wash No. 5 off White Dome Road. It’s best to photograph here in the early morning before the park is busy.
  • Natural Arches- all throughout the park are interesting formations and a collection of natural arches that rivals just about any other Southwest locations except Arches National Park. This page documenting all the natural arches contained within Valley of Fire does an excellent job of providing directions to each location so you can plan your photography adventures. Like the other destination, it’s best to arrive early for the best light and fewest other visitors.
 valley of fire weddings

Valley of Fire Weddings

On your visit to Valley of Fire, you might make out a rare site; a private helicopter touching down on a lone rock mountain and guests deplaning in tuxedos and wedding dresses. 

One of the most unique experiences offered here is a Valley of Fire wedding package. Wedding ceremonies take place surrounded by rich red sandstone and gray and tan limestone mountains.

Far from the typical Las Vegas wedding experience, Valley of Fire offers an atmosphere of natural beauty that is unrivaled anywhere near Sin City!  

Papillon Helicopters offers a number of Valley of Fire wedding packages that transport bride and groom to a remote mountaintop inside Valley of Fire, enjoying sights of Lake Mead and Hoover Dam enroute. Other helicopter wedding proposal packages are available as well.