Valley of Fire: A dazzling Spring high desert destination

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February 13, 2010


By Bob Difley

With Spring but weeks away and the desert sun burning hotter and hotter, you might be starting to think about heading back home and planting the garden. The temptation is there to get a head start, but instead of heading directly home on the way, try a different location for a few days or a week, a high desert location that would be too cold in mid-winter, and too hot in the summer, but right now might be, as baby bear said, just right.

One place that comes to mind is Valley of Fire State Park in the Mojave Desert 55 miles north of Las Vegas and only six miles from Lake Mead. Valley of Fire is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park and gets its name from the the park’s red sandstone formations. This park brings out the little boy in all of us, climbing the rocks, peering into eroded caves and through holes and arches, playing cowboys and Indians, and giving names to the odd formations–bee hives, elephant rock, and grand piano.

You can also find petrified logs, big horn sheep, Indian petroglyphs, secret slot canyons, an old movie site, and a rainbow of colors in the geologic formations. Paved scenic drives access most of the park’s attractions, but several hikes wind in and out of the strange and mysterious rocky formations.

There are primitive, nicely private, first-come-first-serve campsites tucked in the rock formations and some have water and electricity hookups. But don’t worry about driving in here and being shut out of a campsite, even if they are full the park will accommodate you in an overflow area.

Now is the time to visit the park. It is open all year, but the Spring weather is perfect. The classy visitor center provides lots of information on the area as well as interpretive displays. This is an interesting and unique destination, and a break between your your winter snowbird roosting area and the place you call home.

For the complete guide to boondocking, check out my eBook, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands.

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  17. We stayed here in January several years back with our family; it is a beautiful place to camp and visit.

    This (Valley of Fire) is one of a few of our favorite places visit in Nevada, my favorite being Great Basin National Park

    Great Post!

  18. tbucketflyer

    I never got there with the RV but my wife and I were there twice with a car. This is the most beautiful place I have seen in that rea. It is a definite stop whenever we are in the area

  19. napadan

    Bob, the Valley of Fire is just as you described. Terrific campground and facilities; I even saw a bighorn sheep in our campsite! We enjoyed our 3 days there even better than Zion. The Visitors’ Center is excellent.

  20. Bob, Thanks for the suggestion. Hope to visit that area on our next trip either north or south.

  21. julie rea

    Jerry – Rocky Point Mexico (aka Puerto Penasco) is NOT Mexico!! All prices are in US dollars, not pesos, even. Not too bad an area, but prices not much different than in US. Very “touristy”. I went down as far as Puerto Vallarta this year and last, everyone very friendly and happy to see us. Locals wave at the RV as we pass thru. No problems at all.

  22. Ken

    Outstanding pictures, never been there but you got me thinking…..????……

  23. Would like info on rocky point mexico. Would like to rv there.

  24. Hi Bob, I truely enjoyed your stories in destinations.
    I was at Brayce Canyon in 9/04. Beautiful. We went to see Tombstone,AZ
    in 4/09. We had planned to go to Bisbee, AZ. But, we didn’t get to go.
    Oh well, I will get there later.I read the article about Pioche,Nv. I learned a lot about
    the town I didn’t know existed. They advertise Tombstone as the wildest west
    town. I guess they are wrong. We went through Pioche,AZ in 1997 and didn’t relize what we were missing. Wasn’t paying enough attention I guess.
    Keep writing your great stories. I love writing. How can I get a blog and write
    about my travel around beautiful America.

  25. GM

    heading back home up north is NOT what you want to do right now. With DC shut down and show up to your.. well lets just say some men are taller than others… One might want to think about extending just a little longer in the sun country.

    The current storms are a trubrute to old ALs global warming procumulation. After all now its global wamring is leading us into the green house gas emissions which of course is going to START THE GLOBAL COOLING… huh.. wait a min you said that it was warming up. … now he is going for a second NO-BELL prize by saying its lead us into GLOBAL COOLING AND A NEW ICE AGE… which will cause us to use more WORLD RESOURCES…to try and keep WARM!!!… (am I missing something here)

    Give up yet??? ahhh heck get a good camera… (by the way some of the new digital stuff is REALLY GOOD… so much so that I think film is going to become the edsels of history. ) Easy to use and great pics to send over the internet to everyone you know…(so it will miff ’em off… by fillingl up their 20 gig mail box with 10 pics… think of the pleasur it brings to share your pics with ’em anyway)

    Pretty cool and great color too. Easy to use in the auto mode while giving you something to work on by reading the owners manual for days at a time. 🙂

    While the cost of the camera is a little higher… just think how much it would have cost to develop all those 36 exp rolls of film. One 8 gig SD card can take over 2100 pictures. With 4 of them you can wear out the camera with a whopping 8400 pictures… thats a lot of pics too. and the best part is that if you don’t like ’em you can erase the SD card and start over again.

    I am sure old trusty (bob) can fill everyone in on how to capture those kodak moments boondocking with the flora and fona pict that are in vivid color with un-for-get-able slide show movies of the great trips.

    Now that you have the great place… shair it with your friends in pictures…. but remember. if you tell someone.. they may take your spot … 🙂

  26. Tige

    Great suggestion Bob,

    Peggy and I took a drive through their while on a trip to Las Vegas from Colorado and would love to spend a week there in the motorhome.


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  28. Ed

    I didn’t comment on the park it sure looks nice. It reminds me of the many park and canyons in Utah. I will try it.

  29. Ed

    Cacti bloom at set times,and cacti do not need much rain. What the rain brings out is the wild flowers. We may be in for a nice colorful season. That’s if the rain was early enough. Down here in southern Arizona we are + more than one inch in rainfall over normal, but we would need another few feet to catch up to where we should be.

  30. 2009 Admiral

    Absolutely! I think Valley of Fire beats the best of Moab and Sedona combined.

  31. Ronald


    Thanks for the timely suggestion. I have been looking at the map attempting to figure out our route back to the northwest in April. Will put this on the list. Thinking of going through Yosemite from 395, but may have to go west first and forget getting across that way if there’s snow.

    With the rain in the southwest, I would think that the cacti should start blooming fairly soon. Will be heading westward in about a week or so.