Valley of Fire State Park lies just north of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in southern Nevada. This 40,000+-acre landscape of sculpted red Aztec sandstone, limestone, desert washes, and otherworldly colors is, in my opinion, one of the underappreciated gems in our country’s park system (right alongside Petrified Forest National Park).
You don’t need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to visit Valley of Fire but you should be prepared to set out on foot if you want to see the most unique geological and cultural elements contained within its boundaries. Be forewarned, because of its location in the Nevada desert, Valley of Fire is more comfortable to visit in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.
*There is a $10-per-vehicle day-use fee to enter the park, even if you don’t camp.
Camping in Valley of Fire State Park
As with all parks, campsites are in extremely high demand in Valley of Fire. Normally I would recommend making advanced reservations, but in this case, all 72 designated campsites within the two campgrounds at the park are first-come-first-served. For the best chances of securing a campsite, I would recommend being ready in one of the various campground loops in the early morning so that you can quickly slip into a spot once the current residents leave.
Tent sites cost $20/night for Nevada residents or $25/night for non-residents. Sites with RV hook-ups are $30/night for Nevada residents or $35/night for non-residents. If all Valley of Fire park campsites are full, the closest alternative (paid) campsites with services are located approximately 30 miles southeast, at Echo Bay in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Unfortunately, there is no dispersed camping within the park. However, when I visited, I managed to find a spot just outside the western entrance, on some BLM land (both Campendium and the Vanlife App smartphone apps have some of these dispersed sites listed). Note that any dispersed camping outside of the park on BLM land will be “dry camping” with no services. If you choose this free option, you are responsible for packing out all of your own waste. If you find trash left behind by others, consider packing it out as well, leaving your campsite cleaner than you found it.
What to Do in Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire is a beautiful place to explore, with spectacular scenery that you can enjoy from the comfort of your vehicle. But as I mentioned above, setting out on foot will yield even more beauty. Here are a few areas worth exploring when you visit:
Elephant Rock – A unique sandstone rock formation that resembles an elephant.
The Beehives – With some imagination, these rippled sandstone domes resemble beehives. These are easily accessible and offer fun scrambling.
Mouse’s Tank– You can spot ancient petroglyphs along the short trail that leads to this natural sandstone basin.
Rainbow Vista– A one-mile hike leads to this stunning panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.
Fire Wave – This red and white rock formation is worth the 1.5-mile hike.
Fire Cave – A sandstone arch and alcove.
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