When people hear of Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, their imagination draws a picture of a famous strip, state of the art hotels, gambling, terrific shows and world class chefs restaurants. But there is a place of amazing nature located just around one and a half hours from the City of Las Vegas.
It is the Valley of Fire State Park that was opened in 1935 and was the first state park in Nevada. It is conveniently located in the Mojave desert about 50 miles (about one hour drive) northeast of the city. Its open hours are very convenient since it is open from sunrise to sunset. The entrance fee is 10 dollars per vehicle. Another convenience is that even in hot summer days you can stay in the air conditioned car driving around the park or take a walk to most picturesque sights. There is a visitor center where you can refresh yourself, get all necessary info and a map of the place that shows the routes and sightseeing highlights. The park is nicely arranged and washrooms are located throughout the whole park.
Valley of Fire is a 40,000 acres of all shades of red of Aztek sandstone outcrops settled in yellowish brown limestone. The formations are the result of sand dunes moving by wind when inland seas died down and the land emerged. The formations date back to the Mesozoic Era, i.e. 150 million years ago.
It is called the Valley of Fire because of the ‘fire’ colors that appear in the bright sunshine. The formations shades are all combinations of red, ginger, yellow, grey, brown, rust that are beautifully blended. Come closer and you will see the layers of sand masses reminding us of modern 3D printing.
The scenic road is pretty curvy and it is a real advantage. Every turn of the car creates a new breathtaking scenery, different from the one you just saw. The shapes of sand formations like the shapes of clouds may resemble anything from our life. You can see the Elephant Rock, Beehives, the Arch Rock, etc. You won’t miss them since they are well marked on the map and are shown on the road signs. Also you can stop, use your imagination and spot your own shapes and figures or play a game with your children trying to see various objects. If you are lucky you can even spot live mountain goats, yes, the ones that you definitely saw in the form of iron sculptures on your way to Las Vegas.
Another wonder of the Valley of Fire are the petroglyphs that were carved into the rocks by Basket Maker people and Anasazi Pueblo farmers from around 300 BC to 1150 AD. You can see them climbing the steel stairs. It is hard to believe that people lived in such a harsh environment growing and gathering plants, hunting and protecting themselves from heat and sun.
When In Vegas don’t miss this spectacular place.Fill up gas, take plenty of water, apply sunscreen, put on hats and comfy shoes and have a half day fun in this unforgettable nature. Complete your gambling experience with a piece of wonder.