Posted by Ric Garrido

The woman working the Valley of Fire State Park visitor center said bighorn sheep are usually standing around outside every morning lately when she arrives for work at 7:30am. Yesterday there were two adult males, two females and a juvenile. They come to the visitor center in search of water.

The desert bighorn sheep only require water every three days in summer when temperatures in Valley of Fire can reach 120 F degrees. In winter these desert creatures don’t need drinking water at all when there is green vegetation available to eat.

DSC_0411

This Bighorn Sheep at the Valley of Fire visitor center was my only sighting in the park.

It’s an Awesome Adventure

Blogger Disclosure: Yesterday I took a tour from Las Vegas to Valley of Fire State Park with the Las Vegas-based tour company “It’s an Awesome Adventure”. The trip was complimentary as a journalist attending U.S. Travel Association International Pow Wow 2013.

The adventure originally planned for two rappels down a cliff 60 to 150 feet at a location called Lone Rock, but the extreme and dangerous heat warnings from the National Weather Service eliminated that part of the adventure. The excursion became simply a photographic journey through Valley of Fire State Park.

Simply hiking the desert when it was officially 115 F proved challenging to avoid overheating.

 

Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park is located off Interstate 15 North about a one hour drive northwest from the Las Vegas Strip.

image

Google Maps showing Valley of Fire 56 miles from Caesars Palace on Las Vegas Strip.

Valley of Fire is 11 miles off I-15.

The Moapa Paiute Travel Plaza store at the I-15 Valley of Fire exit is a place to load up on beverages and snacks before heading into the remote desert.

DSC_0140

I was amazed the beer prices were low in the middle of the desert with Stella Artois at $7.99 a six-pack.

DSC_0147

Beer was only visual entertainment for me on a 115 degree day when hydration was critical to good health.

Apparently the fireworks prices are low too.

DSC_0148

Customer checking out with a bang load of fireworks in the shopping cart.

Valley of Fire State Park has a $10 admission fee.  This is Nevada’s first State Park established in 1935 at the time Hoover Dam was constructed flooding many square miles of desert under Lake Mead reservoir.

Many of the sites in Valley of Fire State Park are features seen in the National Parks of Utah with Native American petroglyphs, sandstone arches, white capped sandstone domes, slot canyons and desert wildlife.

DSC_0152

Heading into Valley of Fire.

DSC_0160

Atlatl Rock offers a stairway to view ancient 4,000 year old Native American petroglyphs.

DSC_0172

Petroglyphs at Atlatl Rock, Valley of Fire.

DSC_0173

Petroglyph Bighorn Sheep?

There was a constant croaking of my Raven friends coming from somewhere nearby in the rocks.

DSC_0186

I located four ravens resting in a shaded alcove on the other side of Atlatl Rock.

DSC_0202

Valley of Fire sand is used as natural dye for many of the t-shirts sold at the park visitor center.

DSC_0208

I have no idea what this small object is, but the shape caught my eye.

Shapes of rocks have led to many of the sandstone formations being named for their resemblance to animals.

DSC_0229

Elephant Rock, Valley of Fire is a sandstone arch. A better photograph is seen here.

White Domes

My trip to Capitol Reef National Park last month exposed me to the geology of white domes. In short, these protective domes over the sandstone delay erosion. Once the white dome cap erodes, then the sandstone erodes from water and wind exposure to create the natural arches like the one seen in Elephant Rock.

DSC_0289

White Domes, Valley of Fire.

DSC_0342

Balance Rock, Valley of Fire.

This desert life outside of Las Vegas is natural Nevada, if that is something you care to see.

DSC_0357

Behind Valley of Fire Visitor Center.

DSC_0317

Rare sighting of a sweating Desert Geek at 3pm in the 115 to 120 degree heat, Valley of Fire State Park.

 

Ric Garrido, writer and content owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed or subscribe to email newsletter on the upper left side of this page.

5 Responses

  1. Cool! Maybe I’ll do this when in Vegas

    Comment by James K. on June 9th, 2013 at 8:23 am
  2. Was there last September for a dawn shoot, so the heat wasn’t up yet.

    Also recommended is Red Rocks Canyon, just a short drive west of town. If you go at dusk there is a great overlook with a view of vegas lights

    Comment by steve kalman on June 9th, 2013 at 8:57 am
  3. I want there in December a few years back. Very beautiful and temperature was slightly cold. I am too pale to go there in the summer. The trip from Vegas to Death valley is gorgeous.

  4. Valley of Fire is awesome even when it is hot! Sunset is also a good time to see Big Horn sheep. Also look for antelope ground squirrels, jack rabbits, lizards, red tailed hawks, and the rare desert tortoise.

  5. @Melissa – I photographed what looks to be an antelope ground squirrel (slightly blurry as it was running from me as I approached) and I saw one jack rabbit at the park.

home top