VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK, NV
There's no place on earth like it. The Valley of Fire State Park will wow you from the moment you veer off I-15 and head east towards the main entrance. The winding road has been endearingly named the "roller coaster road" by our kids, for good reason. Once you hit the park, you'll see a vast array of red rocks that literally jut out of the ground in haphazard and random places. They're all wind-worn and pock marked, with caves that are fun to climb in and explore. The dirt is covered in red sand blown off the rocks.
Be cautious of the red ants that seem to be about everywhere in the Valley of Fire. They're entertaining to watch though. They're worker ants and often can be seen hauling food to their holes in the ground. As you drive through the park, there are several good stopping points to get out and explore.
The Valley of Fire State Park is a place that you could visit for a day or several days, depending on your availability. There's something for everyone here! Some of our favorite places are The Seven Sisters, The Cabins, Elephant Rock, The Arch, Mouse Tank, Fire Wave, and the White Domes to name a few.
Wherever you go, plan to hike and scramble rocks. You'll want good shoes, plenty of water and a camera handy. Note, drones are not allowed in the park. However, as you scramble rocks, you'll find plenty of amazing views that will come out perfectly with still shots. There are bathrooms at the visitors center, at east and west entrances, and at most major attractions.
If you want to camp overnight, there's a nice campground nestled in a wind-sheltered cove of red rock. Not much shade there during the day, but each site has a covered picnic table and close access to bathrooms.
When you visit the Valley of Fire, take your time exploring and you'll notice big horned sheep and a variety of other wildlife. Your kids will love chasing lizards. They're everywhere! But mostly, you'll enjoy the unbelievable red rock formations and sandy hiking trails. It's 100% worth the trip. Don't visit Las Vegas without making Valley of Fire State Park a top priority.
Elephant Rock is near the east entrance to the park. It's a short hike from parking and restrooms. You can view it a couple of different ways. If you hike along the road side, that's the easiest access and a real nice view from below the arch. If you hike along the backside, you'll need to be prepared for some rock scrambling and hiking up a steep hillside, but it's well worth it for the view. Climbing on Elephant Rock is prohibited by the park and irresponsible. It's a very fragile formation that will continue to be eroded by wind and weather and at some point will give way. Respect nature from a distance. Enjoy the view, but help preserve its beauty by not climbing on the Elephant Rock structure. It's an amazing site to see and it's crazy how it really does look just like an elephant!
The Seven Sisters are located just east of the visitors center, along the main road. You won't miss it - there are literally 7 huge red rock formations that magically appear next to each other. Some bigger than others. There are a couple of covered picnic areas. Perfect stopping spot alone or with a big group. Between some of the sisters, on the back side, are crevices and caves worth exploring inside. It's especially nice around sunset. Just be aware, when the sun goes down, it goes down quick and the park closes at sunset.
The Cabins are nestled back in a canyon just east of the Seven Sisters. Back in 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps built stone visitor cabins. There are three still standing. The Cabins are nestled up against a large red rock formation that has petroglyphs (ancient rock art) carved into the walls. You'll see other remnants of civilization back there as well. It's fascinating to explore in and around the cabins!
The Arch Rock is near the west entrance to the park. You can access it either by taking the dirt side road or the paved main road (turn left towards the campground and follow until the dirt and paved roads merge). This is a quick stop but worth it, nonetheless. The park does not allow you to climb on the rock, so as to preserve it. You can view it from the road or by hiking around the back side. It's a very simple walk-around, one that doesn't require any skill.