I suppose I should start this post by saying it is not recommended to go to Valley of Fire State Park during the summer if you plan on hiking. But we did anyways.
I guess we are just optimistic and a tad foolhardy. But we were also smart about it. We knew that the Fire Wave was the hike we wanted to do the most (it is arguably the most iconic sight in the park), so we did it first thing in the morning, before temperatures reached burn-your-skin-off levels.
We also brought frozen water bottles and bandannas soaked in water. Staying cool and hydrated is the most important thing! We know from experience- this wasn’t our first time battling with the possibility of heat exhaustion (you can check out my blog post about it).
Oddly enough, this trail isn’t even listed on the park’s website. So here is the info:
FIRE WAVE, 0.6 miles one-way, moderate?
“The Fire Wave, located in Valley of Fire State Park, is an easy hike to an amazing sandstone formation that resembles an ocean wave with swirling patterns of red, white, and pink sandstone” (AllTrails). Easy based on mileage and elevation gain, difficult due to being completely exposed and hiking on sand and sandstone (which just radiates heat). Trailhead is located along the road to White Domes (watch for signs).
Make sure to follow the cairns and arrows! The trail is not easy to see, and you don’t want to wander off-trail and damage the eco-system. Leave no trace!
The Fire Wave!!
It really is pretty damn cool. To look at…the temperature was scalding. I think I almost melted off my bum while getting this picture lol.
Valley of Fire is Nevada’s largest and oldest state park, and is totally worth a visit even if you don’t plan on hiking. After finishing the Fire Wave trail, we decided that was enough hiking for us and opted to spend the rest of our visit just checking out scenic viewpoints (with frequent visits to the visitor center to reset our body temperatures in their air conditioning hehe).
It’s amazing what just 15 minutes inside the cool building and a cold soda will do to revive your spirits.
Another break in the visitor center. They have this wonderful enclosed foyer with chairs and tables. Perfect for a picnic lunch out of the heat! You seriously can’t stay outside in 112° F weather for very long. Nor should you.
Back to the scenic drive! All these sights can be seen right from the road: no hiking required.
Except for these petroglyphs. The rock they are on is next to the road, but to see the petroglyphs you have to go up the stairs.
It’s worth the effort though. Seeing art that has been there for over 2500 years is pretty incredible, especially with how high up on the rock they are.
Ok honestly, we did want to do a lot more hiking than that. We had a full day planned, and had a perfect itinerary that would’ve allowed us to see everything we wanted to see in the park during our 1-day visit. But the weather gods didn’t cooperate, and so we had to play it by ear. Meaning we had to scrap like 75% of our itinerary. But staying safe is more important than sightseeing, I guess. This just means I have a lot of unfinished business with Valley of Fire and have to go back someday. Maybe in the fall or winter.
Day use entry fee: $10
Open year-round, pets welcome (on leash), camping permitted in designated areas only (first come, first served)
For more information, visit the Valley of Fire State Park website.