Fiery red rock formations, prehistoric petroglyphs, ancient tribes… The Valley of Fire State Park is such a cool destination to add to your bucket list.
On our road trip from Las Vegas to Zion National Park, we took the scenic route through the Valley of Fire. It only adds an extra hour of drive time and is so worth it. Trust me, you won’t regret checking off these epic things to do in the Valley of Fire before you continue onto Zion! Besides, the Valley of Fire in Nevada also makes for a fun day trip from Vegas!
Go on an epic hike, check out panoramic viewpoints, and leisurely make your way through the fiery red rock valley that has millions and millions of stories to share. There are several bucket-list-worthy things to do in the Valley of Fire to fill up the morning before you cross over state lines into Utah.
Here are 12 epic things to do in the Valley of Fire, Nevada!
Valley of Fire – Things to Do in One Day
1. Photograph the Beehives
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One of the first things to do when you arrive at the west entrance of the Valley of Fire is to hop out and photograph the Beehives (located on the right side of the road). The Beehives are a series of unique sandstone formations that look like beehive nests. Over millions of years, wind and water eroded holes into the sandstone to create this unique geological formation. It doesn’t take very long to visit them (10-15 minutes) and is worth getting out to see.
2. Wander the Exhibit at the Visitor’s Center
Located about halfway through the Valley of Fire is the Visitor’s Center. You’ll see it camouflaged on your left. Make sure to stop here to refill water (free), stock up on snacks and drinks, and most importantly, to get more information about the park, current trail conditions, and updates.
Wandering around the interpretive displays and exhibits inside the Visitor’s Center is one of the best things to do in the Valley of Fire if you care about learning more about its transformation through history and the diverse Native peoples that used to inhabit this land. The center is open from 8:30-4:30, but you can enter the Valley of Fire park much earlier if you want to get a head start on an early morning hike.
Tip: Make sure to heed the advice of the rangers at the Visitor’s Center concerning current trail safety. During heat waves, the Valley of Fire can experience dangerously hot temperatures that make hiking unsafe and heat exhaustion a real possibility.
3. Hike the Fire Wave
The Fire Wave is one of the most popular hikes and things to do in the Valley of Fire in just one day. The Fire Wave is a unique formation of striped rock that gives the impression of a wave. The hike is short – about 1 hour – and rewards you with an epic vista.
How to hike the Fire Wave in the Valley of Fire:
The Fire Wave trailhead is easily found across from parking lot #3 on the road to the White Domes. The trail begins on the right side of the road and follows a squishy, sandy trail toward the Gibraltar rock. You’ll skirt these towering red rocks and follow the trail markers (poles) out onto the hard sandstone. Keep going until you see the Fire Wave begin. Hike down the slick rock and you’re there.
It takes 25 minutes each way. The only respite from the sun is under a small rock overhand with a bench. Once you pass this mark, you’re out in wide-open space. The views are incredible. Take a moment to stand still and be quiet – the silence of the valley is almost deafening. Quite the contrast from Las Vegas!
Please be careful when hiking the Fire Wave. The morning we hiked the Fire Wave it was extremely hot – around 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite going easy and drinking plenty of water, the heat became too much and we started to experience symptoms of heat exhaustion (banging headache, blurry vision, flushed cheeks, rapid heart rate, etc.) We saw other people hiking on different trails, but the Fire Wave really releases the heat from the rock which is all around you. There’s also zero relief from the sun’s direct exposure. Besides, what is doable for others isn’t what’s best for you!
4. See the Petroglyphs at Atlatl Rock
Before you head further into the park, take a left and drive the 2-mile Scenic Loop Road which takes you to Atlatl Rock and Arch Rock. At Atlatl Rock, you have the unique chance to see the etchings of ancient tribes into the red rock. You might even recognize some of the shapes and figures of these petroglyphs! To get there, you’ll need to climb up a short flight of steps to reach the rock face.
Fun fact: “Atlatls” were throwing sticks/dart throwers that the tribes used to make their darts and spears stronger.
5. Drive the scenic White Domes Road
The WhiteDomes Road is a 5.5-mile scenic route that takes you to several must-see places in the Valley of Fire. On this road, you’ll pass by Mouse’s Tank, Rainbow Vista, Fire Canyon Road, parking lots, the Fire Wave, before reaching the end at White Domes. Watch out for Bighorn Sheep scurrying the rocks alongside this road!
6. Get a Running Road Shot!
If you visit the Valley of Fire during a quiet time (without hardly any road traffic), you could possibly get a fun road shot. There is a long stretch of road here and oftentimes travelers will hop out to snap a quick photo. PLEASE be careful though and keep off the shoulders of the road. About mid-way down this road, there’s ample space to park on the shoulder without getting too close to the road or rocks.
7. Hike to Mouse’s Tank – An Outlaw’s Hideout
Mouse’s Tank is one of the historical things to do in the Valley of Fire. This location has a unique backstory that you can learn all about on your visit to the exhibits at the Visitor’s Center. In short, in the late 1890s, there was a Paiute outlaw named Little Mouse who used this area as a hideout to escape the accusations of his crimes from killing two prospectors in the valley.
It’s a short 0.75-mile hike to this hideout which is a natural basin that collects rainwater (hence the name “Mouse’s Tank). Along the way, you can see many prehistoric petroglyphs similar to that of Atlatl Rock.
8. Stop for Panoramic Views at Rainbow Vista
Rainbow Vista is aptly named because of the gorgeous variations in colors of the sandstone that marks the valley. Whether it’s orange, yellow, pink, purple, or even blue, it’s likely the Valley of Fire has it. Keep your eyes peeled!
9. Fire Canyon/Silica Dome Viewpoint
Another unique vista is at Fire Canyon/Silica Dome viewpoint where you can see the red rock appearing ablaze at Fire Canyon in contrast with the supple white rock of Silica Dome. Silica Dome is one of the best examples of the geological formations in the Valley of Fire because of the sand grains that are made up of almost pure silica. This gives the rock a white color. If you look at the base of the dome, you’ll see the typical red rock stain iconic throughout the park – that is due to the trace amounts of iron in the rock.
10. Take a Break Under the Seven Sisters
The Seven Sisters are seven towering rock formations along the side of Valley of Fire Road. They are standing close together and look alike, hence their name. This is a great place to hop out of the car and explore around the rocks, sit down for a picnic on the bench, or just catch your breath.
11. Watch for Bighorn Sheep and Other Wildlife
Within two minutes of entering the Valley of Fire State Park for the first time, we almost crashed into a trotting Bighorn Sheep that darted out from a bush. Then, at the Visitor’s Center, there was a whole group of them just grazing right by the parking lot. Wildlife in the Valley of Fire is abundant – from snakes and lizards to kit foxes and coyotes! Watch your step when hiking and leave wildlife be.
12. Check Out the Petrified Logs from Ancient Forests
On either end of the Valley of Fire State Park, you’ll find two locations (west and east entrances before/after the Visitor’s Center) where you can see petrified logs that washed in with the ancient sea from forests that lived 225 million years ago. These “petrified” logs and stumps look like wood but are solidified and replaced by rock.
Bonus Valley of Fire Thing to Do – Balanced Rock!
For panoramic views of the ancient valley, stop for a mini hike to see Balanced Rock. This rock seemingly defies gravity as it hangs tilted on its side. You can spot it nearby the Valley of Fire Visitor’s Center or as you exit the White Domes Scenic Road.
Final Tips for Visiting the Valley of Fire in Nevada
- Weather: Prepare for hot, dry weather in the summers with temperatures that exceed 100°F. Hike early in the morning and take frequent water breaks. The best time to visit the Valley of Fire is during the more pleasant spring and fall.
- Water: It’s recommended to take at least one gallon of water per person. Free water refills are available at the Visitor’s Center as well as snacks/refreshments for purchase.
- Time: If you complete this list of things to do in Valley of Fire, then expect to spend at least 3 hours or more here. The park is open from sunrise to sunset.
- Time change: If you’re crossing into Utah to go to Zion National Park or Bryce Canyon National Park, remember there is a 1-hour time difference (you’ll jump ahead 1 hour).
I hope this bucket list guide for things to do in the Valley of Fire helps plan your trip! The Valley of Fire State Park, in my opinion, is extremely underrated and has so much to offer. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or suggestions!