Julie United States 71 Comments

The Valley of Fire State Park is a brilliant, colorful outdoor destination located in Nevada, just one hour from Las Vegas. Filled with panoramic vistas, hiking trails, petroglyphs, scenic drives, and stunning red and pink rock formations, the Valley of Fire makes an excellent day trip from Vegas. In this guide, we cover the best things to do in the Valley of Fire and how to plan your visit.

So far, we have visited the Valley of Fire twice, first in 2017 and more recently in 2022. On our first visit, Tim and I were totally amazed at the landscapes here…they look like nothing you will see on the drive from Las Vegas. Our second visit was just as good, if not better, as we got to revisit some favorite spots and discover some new ones.

The Valley of Fire is our favorite day trip from Las Vegas. If you are looking for an escape from the neon lights and crowds on the Strip, venture out to this wonderful state park…and don’t forget your hiking shoes and your camera.

What is the Valley of Fire?

The Valley of Fire is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park. This park is located 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada. Its 40,000+ acres are filled with red rock formations made from Aztec sandstone. On a sunny day, these rock formations look like they are on fire, giving the park its name, the Valley of Fire.

Several movies were filmed here, including Total Recall, Viva Las Vegas, The Professionals, and Star Trek Generations.

A visit to the Valley of Fire can last just an hour or two (if you drive through the park, only stopping at scenic overlooks and hiking one or two short trails) or all day, if you choose to explore every nook and cranny of this place.

There are two main roads in the Valley of Fire State Park.

The Valley of Fire Highway runs west to east across the southern part of the park. Both entrances into this park are located on this road (the west entrance and the east entrance). Sights along the Valley of Fire Highway include Atlatl Rock, the Beehives, Elephant Rock, and Seven Sisters.

Mouse’s Tank Road (the state park brochure calls this road “White Domes Road” and Google has this road labeled as “Mouse’s Tank Road”) heads north into the heart of the park. Driving this road, and seeing the sights here, is one of the best state park experiences we have had in the United States. The drive is gorgeous and the hiking trails that start along this road are short and sweet and tons of fun. When we visit the Valley of Fire, we spend most of our time along this road.

The visitor center is located next to the intersection of the Valley of Fire Highway and Mouse’s Tank Road.

Best Things to do in the Valley of Fire

Here is a map of the best things to do in the Valley of Fire, with hiking trailheads and photography locations.

How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each point of interest. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

#1 Enjoy the Landscapes

One of the best things about the Valley of Fire State Park is that you don’t have to be a hiker to enjoy it. Many of the most beautiful sights in the park can be seen right from the roads.

White Domes Road

Mouse’s Tank Road | Best Things to Do in the Valley of Fire

 

Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn Sheep on Mouse’s Tank Road | Best Things to Do in the Valley of Fire

Driving through the Valley of Fire is the easiest way to enjoy the view. Pink, red, and orange sandstone rocks create amazing vistas that you can see from your car.

#2 The Beehives

These strange looking sandstone formations can be seen in just a few minutes. Get out of your car, take some photos, or climb up to the top of the highest dome for great views over the park.

Beehives Valley of Fire

The Beehives | Best Things to Do in the Valley of Fire

 

Beehives Parking Lot

Kara and Tim

LOCATION: The Beehives are located on Valley of Fire Highway, near the west entrance. If you enter the park through the west entrance, this is the first sight that you will see.

#3 Atlatl Rock

Climb the staircase at Atlatl Rock to see the best display of petroglyphs in the Valley of Fire.

Atlatl Rock

Atlatl Rock | Best Things to Do in the Valley of Fire

#4 Arch Rock

This large arch in the sandstone can be seen from the Scenic Loop Road near Atlatl Rock.

#5 Fire Cave

Also located on the Scenic Loop Road is the Fire Cave. This was a popular photography destination but recently the arch collapsed. Now it’s best to put your time into other places in the Valley of Fire.  

#6 Seven Sisters

Located on the Valley of Fire Highway, this is a quick stop to see a cluster of seven sandstone rock formations.

#7 Elephant Rock

Located next to the east entrance, this arch rock formation resembles an elephant, with a little bit of imagination.

It is a 0.2-mile out-and-back walk to get to Elephant Rock from the parking lot or you can hike the 1.25 mile loop.

Elephant Rock

Bill45/shutterstock.com

#8 Mouse’s Tank

Distance: 0.75 miles out-and-back | Difficulty: Easy | Time: 30 minutes

The hike to Mouse’s Tank is relatively short (only .75 miles round trip), ending at a natural rock basin where water collects after rainfall. This is an easy but unexciting hike and along the way you can spot petroglyphs on the rocks. If you are short on time, I’d skip this hike and save your time for some of the better trails in the park.

Mouses Tank

Valley of Fire Petroglyphs

LOCATION OF MOUSE’S TANK: Mouse’s Tank Road, just north of the visitor center.

#9 Rainbow Vista

Distance: 1 mile out-and-back | Difficulty: Easy | Time: 30 to 60 minutes

This hike is more worthwhile than Mouse’s Tank. Only 1 mile round trip, this hike ends with a climb up onto a large hill for a panoramic view over the Valley of Fire.

Rainbow Vista

Rainbow Vista | Best Things to Do in the Valley of Fire

 

Rainbow Vista Hike

LOCATION: Mouse’s Tank Road, just a short drive north of the trailhead for Mouse’s Tank.

#10 Viewpoint of Mouse’s Tank Road

This view of Mouse’s Tank Road is one of the most photographed spots in the Valley of Fire.

Mouses Tank Road

The first time we were here, we didn’t know about this viewpoint. On our most recent visit, Tim and I spent some time trying to find the exact location. We found several places to get a great view of Mouse’s Tank Road.

For the view in the photo above, you will park in a pull out and climb on top of a rock. To get to this pull out from the Rainbow Vista parking lot, drive south on Mouse’s Tank Road (like you are heading out of the park). The road will go downhill and bend to the right. Park in the pullout on the right side of the road and climb the rock for the view.

Below is a photo of parking location and the rock. The GPS coordinates of the parking area are 36°26’56.2″N 114°30’56.3″W.

Mouses Tank Road Photo Spot

You can also get a great view of Mouse’s Tank Road near the parking lot for Rainbow Vista. From the Rainbow Vista parking lot, cross the street and hike up onto the rocks for this view:

Valley of Fire

Mouse’s Tank Road | Best Things to Do in the Valley of Fire

#11 Fire Canyon/Silica Dome

Located at the end of Fire Canyon Road, this overlook offers views of the Fire Canyon and Silica Dome.

Fire Canyon

photo courtesy Valley of Fire State Park

#12 Pink Canyon

Pink Canyon, also called Pastel Canyon, is one of the prettiest places we saw in the Valley of Fire. Parking is limited to only one or two cars (GPS coordinates: 36°28’47” N 114°31’36” W). From the parking spot, head east into the canyon.

Pink Canyon can be combined with the Fire Wave into a big loop hike called the Seven Wonders. Keep reading for more information on how to do this.

Pink Canyon Valley of Fire

Pink Canyon | Best Things to Do in the Valley of Fire

 

Pastel Canyon Valley of Fire

Things to do Valley of Fire

It only takes about 10 minutes to walk through this short, shallow canyon, and with its pink scalloped walls it’s a beauty.

While in the Valley of Fire, please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.

#13 The Fire Wave

Distance: 1.5 mile out-and-back | Difficulty: Easy to moderate | Time: 30 to 60 minutes

This is one of the most gorgeous spots in the Valley of Fire. White and red zebra print sandstone creates a great photo opportunity. It’s a 1.5-mile round trip hike out to the Fire Wave.

On our second visit to the Valley of Fire, we arrived at the park a few hours before sunset. By the time we made it to the Fire Wave, most people were leaving, so we had it all to ourselves. If you want to visit the Valley of Fire with low crowds, plan your visit for the beginning or the end of the day.

Best Things to Do Valley of Fire

Fire Wave Photo

Valley of Fire Photos

Fire Wave Trail

PRO TRAVEL TIP: From June 1 through September 30, the Fire Wave can close during high temperatures.

#14 Seven Wonders Loop

Distance: 1.8 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Time: 1 to 2 hours

This 1.8-mile loop combines some of the best scenery in the Valley of Fire into one hike. Hike the Fire Wave, walk through the Pink Canyon, and explore the pastel landscapes in this part of the park.

To do this hike, the best place to park is the parking lot for the Fire Wave. There are two parking lots here, one on either side of the road. I recommend parking in the one on the west side (the left side as you drive north on Mouse’s Tank Road). From this lot, you can also hike up to the viewpoint that I mention next.

You can hike the loop in either direction. I recommend doing this in a clockwise direction so you see the Fire Wave first. It’s so neat to hike down into the Fire Wave and see the surrounding vistas of yellow, orange, and pink colored rocks.

After visiting the Fire Wave, continue to the Pink Canyon. Cross the road and then you will head back to the parking lot, hiking through a beautiful landscape of pink, yellow, and coral sandstone. It is a beautiful hike!

Valley of Fire Day Trip

Best Las Vegas Day Trip

Best Hikes Valley of Fire

Seven Wonders Trail | Best Things to Do in the Valley of Fire

PRO TRAVEL TIP: This trail does not show up on Google Maps. It is shown in the park brochure that you receive when you enter the park. 

#15 Viewpoint of White Domes

For a great view over White Domes and a panoramic view across the park, we have another short hike to recommend.

From the Fire Wave parking lot (on the west side of Mouse’s Tank Road), there is a trail that starts on the north side of the parking lot. It heads uphill to a viewpoint on top of a large hill.

To do this, it’s about 0.3 miles out-and-back and takes 30 minutes. Here is the view:

Valley of Fire at Sunset

White Domes Viewpoint | Best Things to Do in the Valley of Fire

#16 White Domes Trail

Distance: 1.25 mile loop | Difficulty: Moderate | Time: 1 to 2 hours

This 1.25-mile loop hike is our favorite hike in the Valley of Fire. It’s also the most challenging, with a descent at the beginning and then a climb back up to the parking lot at the end. Even so, it’s not difficult, and it’s a great place to bring kids to let them climb over boulders on the trail. You even get to walk through a narrow slot canyon.

White Domes Hike

Valley of Fire Movie Site

White Domes Loop

Valley of Fire Slot Canyon

White Domes Hike

The easiest way to do this hike is to go clockwise, starting and ending in the car park. By doing it this way, you walk down the relatively steep, rocky path and later walk up a more gentle incline on a singletrack trail.

LOCATION: The parking lot for White Domes is located at the very end of Mouse’s Tank Road. There are restrooms here.

Top 5 Favorite Experiences

If you are short on time and want to see the best of the Valley of Fire, here are our five favorite spots:

  • Fire Wave: This 1.5 mile hike takes you out to one of the most photogenic parts of the Valley of Fire.
  • Mouse’s Tank Road: The main road through the park. There’s an amazing view around every turn.
  • Pink Canyon (Pastel Canyon): A short but very pretty walk through a pastel pink slot canyon.
  • The Beehives:  Scramble up to the top of the Beehives for a panoramic view over the Valley of Fire.
  • White Domes Hike:  Another short hike that’s fun for all ages. 

Mouse’s Tank Road | Best Things to Do in the Valley of Fire

Getting Here

The Valley of Fire is located 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. It takes roughly one hour to drive here. Most of the drive is on Interstate 15, a wide highway. Once you turn onto the Valley of Fire Highway, it becomes a two-lane road through a desert landscape.

If you don’t have plans to rent a car during your visit, there are numerous day trip tours to choose from, like this guided hiking tour from Las Vegas.

When to Visit the Valley of Fire

Spring and fall are the best seasons to visit the Valley of Fire. During this time, temperatures are mild and the days are relatively long.

Winter is also a great time to visit the Valley of Fire. Temperatures are cool but rarely get below freezing. However, the days are short so you will have limited daylight.

Summer is the worst time to visit. The Valley of Fire will be hot (high temperatures can reach 120°F), and during these months, both the Fire Wave and the Seven Wonders hike will close during high temperatures.

We visited the Valley of Fire in December and February. During both visits, the high temperature was in the upper 60’s.

How to Visit the Valley of Fire

Seven Wonders Hike | Best Things to Do in the Valley of Fire

How Much Time Do You Need in the Valley of Fire?

Plan on spending at least half a of a day here, although even more time is better.

With half of a day, you can do everything on our Top 5 list: visit the Beehives, take your photos of Mouse’s Tank Road as you drive through the park, visit the Pink Canyon and hike the Fire Wave (consider hiking the full loop) and end at White Domes.

With more time, you can add on Rainbow Vista, Elephant Rock, and Atlatl.

Valley of Fire Day Trip from Las Vegas

The Valley of Fire makes a great day trip from Las Vegas. Here’s how to do it.

Start early. The Valley of Fire is the least crowded early in the morning. It might be a bit tough to get here at sunrise, but if you did, I imagine you would have some parts of the park all to yourself. I recommend getting here by the more reasonable hour of 8 am, but that means that you will have to leave Las Vegas no later than 7 am.

Here is how to plan your time. Doing it in this order allows you to visit some of the more popular sights early, before they get crowded, leaving the less popular sights for the end of your visit. 

  • Enter at the west entrance
  • Visit the Beehives
  • Drive Mouse’s Tank Road and take lots of photos
  • Visit the Pink Canyon
  • Hike the Fire Wave (1.5 miles out-and-back). Consider hiking the entire Seven Wonders Loop, since it is only 0.3 miles longer and includes the Pink Canyon.
  • Optional: Hike up to the viewpoint over White Domes
  • White Domes Hike
  • As you drive back down Mouse’s Tank Road, you have the option to hike Rainbow Vista and/or Mouse’s Tank.
  • Optional: Elephant Rock
  • Atlatl Rock
  • Return to Las Vegas

There are no restaurants in the Valley of Fire State Park. Pack a picnic lunch if you plan to stay here for more than half of a day.

Fire Wave

Fire Wave | Best Things to Do in the Valley of Fire

Important Information about the Valley of Fire

To enter the park, it costs $10 per vehicle for in-state residents and $15 per vehicle for out-of-state residents, which you will pay at the fee booth before entering. You will be given a map of the park with suggested spots to visit. 

If you plan to camp at the Valley of Fire, the cost is $20 per night ($25 for out of state residents).

The Valley of Fire is open year round from sunrise to sunset. The visitor center is open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. 

For more information, visit the official Valley of Fire website.

A timed-entry reservation system will begin in early 2023. Learn more here.

Tours of the Valley of Fire

 


If you have any questions about the best things to do in the Valley of Fire, or if you would like to share your experience, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip to Las Vegas:

Are you planning a trip through the United States? Read all of our articles about the USA in our United States Travel Guide.

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Things to do Valley of Fire Nevada

 

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Comments 71

  1. Avatar for Jackie Keele
    Jackie Keele

    Your information on the Valley of Fire was so helpful! I used it to decide what to focus on first and where to take great photos! Highly recommend the Seven Wonders Loop to anyone who may have limited time. It was definitely the highlight for us!
    Thank you! Great site!

  2. Avatar for Samson Sy
    Samson Sy

    This is such an amazing guide, thank you.
    We’re be going to Vegas first week of July. You mentioned the Fire Wave might be closed due to high temperature.
    Would it be possible to go first thing in the morning when temperature is not that high or is it definitely closed irregardless.
    How early can we enter the park?
    Which sites do you recommend with the shortest hike if the Fire Wave is closed ?
    Thank you for your great info.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      You’re welcome! The Valley of Fire is open from sunrise to sunset (so sunrise is the earliest you can enter the park). I’m not exactly sure when they close the Fire Wave (on the park brochure, it is stated that the Fire Wave will close with high temps, but they don’t give any more details than that). My assumption is that if you got there early, and temperatures were still cool, you could hike it. But that is an assumption and I could be wrong. If you can’t hike the Fire Wave, we really liked the White Domes Trail and hiking to the viewpoint over White Domes. You could also hike part of the Pink Canyon. Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for Samson Sy
  3. Avatar for Karen Holm
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
  4. Avatar for Shelly
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Yes, it is a very pretty drive through the park, especially through Mouse’s Tank. The main thing that you will miss is the Fire Wave, since you can only see this from the hiking trail. Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Leslie Kato
    Leslie Kato

    How do I find the fire cave/windstone arch in valley of fire?
    We will be going in October after we hit Utah’s big5 using your info!
    Thanks!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
  6. Avatar for Ivy
    Ivy

    Valley of Fire is absolutely worth visiting. Park fees are CASH ONLY so keep that in mind ($15 for non-residents). Also all the main stops are clearly labelled so you can easily navigate your way through this park. Absolutely my most memorable experience in Vegas and about one hour from the strip.

    Ending this review with a HUGE THANK YOU! I’ve been hiking across Nevada & Arizona this past week and this website has been my absolute go-to for EVERYTHING.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Awesome! Thanks for writing in!! I hope you have a great time wherever you are traveling to next. Cheers, Julie

  7. Avatar for Van Au
    Van Au

    Thank you for your information. We don’t dare to drive on Mouse Tank Road because we are afraid. Is there a shuttle to drive people up there?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      I don’t believe that there is a shuttle. Mouse Tank Road is not a hard or dangerous road to drive, in my opinion. There are some curves here and there but nothing too challenging. I recommend at least starting the drive down it…you might be pleasantly surprised…and if it is too much, then turn around. Cheers, Julie

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