Las Vegas has so much going on at all times of the day, it can be a little overwhelming. It is so self-contained, most people never get out and see what the desert looks like. For those up for more adventure, I recommend splitting town and seeing the real Nevada. An hour north of Las Vegas is a place called Valley of Fire State Park. There you will find some of the most amazing rock structures and maybe even see your first cactus.
Valley of Fire State Park
Getting to the park is its own adventure. The terrain was so different that we are used to and we were living it up. As you start to get closer you’ll notice in the distance the rocks start to change colors. We paid our $10 admission fee to enter the park and then we were off. The first thing we did was take a drive through the park. They laid out the park roadways to hit up most of the major rock formations. This gave us the perfect opportunity to view without leaving the joys of our air condition car. The colors and rock formations are spectacular. We had so much fun driving around checking out the different aspects and colorings.
For those looking to hike, they have that too. But be warned. You are about to enter a desert! Expect to get out of the car and hike. Bring proper clothing. I missed this notice when I was packing for the trip. I would have brought a good hat and my hydration backpack. The temperature was over 100 degrees when we got there. This location was a bit of a shock to us northerners. We are used to cool lake breezes and thick shady trees. My husband and I were wearing street shoes and made it about 50 feet away from the nice cool air-conditioned car before we decided we were not prepared. It was a good idea too because hiking unprepared in the dessert is a really bad idea. If it is your first time, I recommend going with one of their guides.
One shocking part was the number of people camping at Valley of Fire. On a cross-country trip, it might be a fun experience. If you are thinking about it, remember that in the desert, it get’s cold at night. It’s not like you camping in 100+ degree heat the whole time. It would be an experience worth trying. Maybe in a camper though. I’m not sure I’m brave enough for a tent. I’m sure the southerners say the same thing about use northerners camping with bears!
We took our trip backward and hit up the visitor center last. It was good too because inside; I saw a couple exhibits that went over some of the creatures you could find out there, including a big harry tarantella. OMG. I was freaking out. I was out there with them! And people were camping out there!!! What are they thinking! Being a Minnesotan, we never have to worry about spiders. In reality, a Tarantula probably won’t kill you and there are only about 6 spider related deaths a year in the US. So please, don’t let that detour you from visiting Valley of Fire State Park. It’s worth the trip day trip from Las Vegas.
For more information about the park and all the trails, check out: