The Fire Wave Trail is a stunning hike located in the Valley of Fire State Park. The Valley of Fire is a bit of a hidden gem and is often overlooked for Utah’s nearby Mighty 5.
Don’t make the mistake we did on our first Arizona-Utah road trip and skip the opportunity to explore the Fire Wave Trail and other hikes in the Valley of Fire State Park. We’ve spent months exploring Arizona and Utah and can now say the scenery found in the park is among the best in the Southwest.
In this guide, I highlight what to expect when hiking the Fire Wave Trail and other route options, seasonal closures, fees, where to camp, what to pack, and more.
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Complete Guide to Hiking the Fire Wave Trail and Seven Wonders Loop in the Valley of Fire State Park
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There are three options for hiking the Valley of Fire’s most popular trail, the Fire Wave Trail.
One option is to hike the Fire Wave Trail as an out-and-back route. Another option is to hike the Fire Wave Trail plus the Seven Wonders as a loop trail. And the final option is to hike the Fire Wave Trail, White Domes Trail, and Seven Wonders as a longer loop trail.
We chose to hike the Fire Wave Trail and Seven Wonders Loop, for the sake of not having to retrace our steps and the opportunity to see more of the park. After we completed the loop, we made the quick drive over to the White Domes Trail and completed the route as a separate hike.
I’ve highlighted all three routes and their trail stats below to help you determine which route is best for you.
Fire Wave Trail Stats
Distance: 1.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 236 feet
Time: 45 min.-1 hour
Fire Wave and Seven Wonders Loop Trail Stats
Distance: 2.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 209 feet
Time: 1.5-2 hours
Fire Wave, White Domes, and Seven Wonders Loop Trail Stats
Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 390 feet
Time: 2-2.5 hours
Know Before You Go
Getting to Valley of Fire State Park
The Valley of Fire State Park is situated just over one hour from Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas. The park’s close distance to the airport makes it a perfect day trip for those looking to escape the city for a bit.
From the airport, you simply follow I-15 N to Valley of Fire Highway for roughly 40 miles. Take exit 75 and follow the Valley of Fire Highway all the way to the State Park entrance.
There is a $15 per vehicle entrance fee for non-Nevada residents and a $10 fee for residents. This fee is paid directly at the pay station booth when entering the park.
Unfortunately, the America the Beautiful Pass does not cover the entrance fee into the park.
If you’re a local Nevadan eager to explore, consider investing in the $100 Annual Pass. This pass can also be purchased upon arrival.
Getting to the Fire Wave Trailhead
Once you’re inside the park follow signs to the Visitor Center.
If you’re not short on time, I highly recommend popping into the Visitor Center. Inside the center, there are exhibits highlighting the geology, ecology, and history of the Valley of Fire. The exhibits are not only fascinating but incredibly informative.
From the Visitor Center, continue onto Mouse’s Tank Road. Driving Mouse’s Tank Road was one of my absolute favorite things we did in the Valley of Fire State Park. I truly believe some of the best views in the southwest can be found on this road.
Fire Wave Trailhead is located near the very end of Mouse’s Tank Road, just before White Domes Trailhead where the road ends. Signs will indicate the start of the trail and designated gravel parking lots for hikers.
Due to extreme summer temperatures in the valley, the Fire Wave Trail and Seven Wonders Loop is closed from June 1 – October 1. This closure is proactively implemented to ensure the safety of both visitors and park staff.
However, if you’re visiting during this time don’t be discouraged. Fortunately, all other areas of the park, such as the White Domes Trail, remain open year-round.
Trust me, there is still plenty to be seen in the State Park. Check out my guides to 10 Epic Valley of Fire Hikes You Can’t-Miss.
Las Vegas to the Valley of Fire
Traveling to Las Vegas and looking for a quick day trip to explore nearby Valley of Fire State Park? Check out these tours to make the most of your time and see the best parts of the park.
Guided tours are a great way to explore a new area with limited time, without all the hassle and stress of researching things to do and arranging your itinerary.
What to Expect Hiking the Fire Wave Trail and Seven Wonders Loop
From the parking lot, we inadvertently began the Fire Wave Trail and Seven Wonder Loops counterclockwise. Meaning, we began the Seven Wonders Loop trail before the Fire Wave Trail.
In retrospect, I would have preferred to start with the Fire Wave Trail. What we didn’t realize was that many of the views that make the Fire Wave Trail so popular were actually at our back as we were scaling up the rock slab.
I’m embarrassed to say, several times Cole and I looked at one another and said, “Is this the Fire Wave?” “Wait, maybe this is the Wave?” “What about that?”
I think walking head-on toward the rock formation would have made identifying it easier. It also means you’ll encounter the most amount of people first, making the rest of the loop trail seem relatively empty.
For the sake of this guide, I’m going to cover it clockwise, beginning with the Fire Wave Trail.
Fire Wave Trail
The side of the road you park on will determine if the trail begins from the parking lot or not. If you’re coming from the Visitor Center, the trail begins on the right side of the road.
The trail starts off sandy and exposed. While it doesn’t last long, the sand can be difficult to walk in at times. As you follow the trail and steadily make your way down into the basin, you have beautiful views of the surrounding area and red rocks.
The best views, however, are still to come.
Once the trail changes from sand to rock it can get a little tricky to follow. I recommend having an offline trail map like AllTrails to use as a reference to keep you on the right path.
You traverse the beautiful pink, red, and white lined rocks for about half a mile before you reach the highly sought-after Fire Wave. Depending on when you’re hiking the trail, there will most likely be a line of visitors waiting to climb atop the wave and snap a picture.
Seven Wonders Loop
While the Fire Wave Trail is the main attraction, we really enjoyed the Seven Wonders Loop that connects hikers from the Fire Wave back to their cars without having to retrace their steps. Those looking to lengthen the hike, even more, can take the Seven Wonders Loop to the White Domes Trail as well.
The Seven Wonders Loop is full of beautiful scenery and truly a fun trail. Those interested can actually search for the 7 wonders scattered about the trail (the first being the Fire Wave): (2) Pastel Canyon, (3) Striped Rock, (4) Kaolin Wash, (5) Crazy Hill, (6) Thunderstorm Arch, and (7) Fire Cave.
While The Fire Wave Trail attracts most of the visitors to the Valley of Fire, my favorite part of the trail came after the Fire Wave. It was absolutely magical winding through the narrow slot canyons and admiring the incredible pastel colors of rock all around us.
As you make your way through the Seven Wonders Loop, the trail and scenery continue to change revealing impressive rock formations, arches, canyons, and colors.
White Domes Trail
While the Fire Wave Trail is perhaps the most popular Trail in the Valley of Fire, do not skip the White Domes Trail. We loved both trails and the trailheads are practically a stone’s throw from one another.
If we were to do it again, we would opt to hike Fire Wave Trail, White Domes Trail, and Seven Wonders as one large loop.
The White Domes Trail is just over one mile long but leads to incredible views, unique rock formations, and even through a tiny slot canyon.
One major upside to the White Domes Trail is that it is open year-round, whereas the Fire Wave Trail and Seven Wonders Loop is closed during peak summer temperatures.
Camping Near Valley of Fire State Park
What better way to experience the Valley of Fire State Park than to camp overnight immersed in its beauty? There’s nothing more magical than pitching a tent in the desert and I can’t be convinced otherwise.
Below are a few camping options in or near the park.
Atlatl Rock and Arch Rock Campgrounds
There are two campgrounds located inside Valley of Fire State Park: Atlatl Rock Campground and Arch Rock Campground.
Atlatl Rock Campground is the larger of the two, offering more sites, electrical hook-ups for RVs, flush toilets, and showers. Arch Rock Campground is much smaller and offers fewer amenities. Both campgrounds are first-come, first-served and can accommodate both tents and RVs.
There is a $25 overnight camping fee per vehicle for non-Nevada residents and a $20 fee for residents. Note that this overnight fee is in addition to the park entrance fee.
Make sure to check seasonal campground closures before arriving. Arch Rock Campground closes during the summer and winter, whereas Atlatl Rock Campground remains open year-round.
We found an awesome, free, boondocking spot about 2.5 miles from the Valley of Fire park entrance. There were other RVs and tent campers taking advantage of the free camping spot as well.
When heading down the Valley of Fire Highway towards the State Park, look for a gravel road veering off to the left. You can continue down this road looking for unoccupied pull-offs to camp for the night.
The gravel veer-off is about 6 minutes before you reach the entrance fee booth. We found the spot using FreeRoam.
Keep in mind, that there are no amenities at this camping spot.
What to Pack for Hiking the Fire Wave Trail
The Valley of Fire, aptly named, is notorious for high temperatures, and dry, harsh conditions typical to arid climates. It’s crucial when exploring the park that you come prepared with the right clothing and gear to ensure your safety and comfort.
I’ve included a list of essentials to consider packing for your trip.
Breathable Clothing and Layers
Anytime you’re planning to go gallivanting in the desert, make sure to wear lightweight, moisture-wicking, and breathable clothing. The high temps and arid climate can sneak up on you when exploring the Fire Wave Trail, regardless of the time of year you’re visiting.
Appropriate Hiking Shoes
There’s nothing technical or too taxing about the Fire Wave Trail, other than some scrambly loose rock, rock slabs, or sand.
With that being said, I always recommend hiking in sturdy hiking shoes or lightweight trail runners. Confidence in your footing and overall comfort goes a long way when exploring parks for multiple hours.
Make sure to bring along a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and/or long-sleeved shirts or pants to protect yourself from the sun. They don’t call it the Valley of Fire for nothing.
Despite the Fire Wave Trail and Seven Wonders Loop being a short hike, it’s always a good idea to hike with a day pack.
Having a small hiking pack allows you to keep your layers, sun protection, water, and other things all in one place. Although there are tons of options out there, two of my all-time favorite day packs are the REI Flash Pack 18L and Gregory Nano 16L.
The most important item to bring along the Fire Wave Trail, or any trail in the Valley of Fire, is water. The hikes are short, yes, but the climate makes even the shortest of hikes feel more challenging.
A common suggestion when hiking in the southwest is to pack 1 liter of water for every 2 miles. Opt for a reusable water bottle option by investing in a tried and true Nalgene bottle or try out the ultra-light option with a HydraPak.
Most of the trails in the Valley of Fire State Park are pretty straightforward, with the Fire Wave Trail being no exception. With that being said, some sections where you’re traversing rock can get a little tricky.
In order to avoid roaming around aimlessly looking for the correct path, consider downloading an offline map to keep you on course. My go-to map resource is AllTrails.
If you have any questions about hiking the Fire Wave Trail or any of the other Valley of Fire hikes, leave me a comment in the section below.
If you’re visiting the Valley of Fire during a larger southwest road trip, make sure to check out my Ultimate Arizona-Utah Road Trip Itinerary guide for epic stops you can’t miss along the way.
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