Nestled in the heart of the Mojave Desert lies several very highly underrated Valley of Fire hikes you can’t miss.
The Valley of Fire State Park boasts awe-inspiring red sandstone formations, ancient petroglyphs, and breathtaking vistas making the park a hiker’s playground.
While the State Park doesn’t receive nearly the attention of other U.S. Southwest destinations such as those making up Utah’s Mighty 5, the Valley of Fire hikes are just as stunning and adventurous without the hoards of visitors.
In this guide, I highlight what to expect exploring the many Valley of Fire hikes, 10 hikes you can’t-miss, where to camp, what to pack, and more.
Table of Contents
Complete Guide to Hiking in the Valley of Fire State Park
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Common Questions About the Valley of Fire
Is There a Fee?
Entrance into the Valley of Fire State Park requires a $15 per vehicle fee for non-Nevada residents and a $10 fee for residents. You pay your entrance fee directly at the pay station upon entering the park.
Unfortunately, for America the Beautiful Pass holders like us, the pass does not cover your entrance fee into the park.
Can I Do It in a Day?
You can absolutely complete the best Valley of Fire hikes in one day.
While you might not be able to get through every single hike on this list, you could easily choose a few that interest you the most and still feel as though you experienced the best the park has to offer.
Simply driving through the park and knocking out 2-3 short trails makes for an epic adventure day in the Valley of Fire.
When Is the Best Time to Visit?
Time of Year
The best time to visit and hike the Valley of Fire to avoid the heat is going to be roughly October-May.
October and May are still on the cusp of higher temperatures but they are not unmanageable. We visited in May and while it was hot, we rose with the sun and adventured in the early mornings with no problems.
Being situated in the heart of the Mojave Desert means the temperatures are extremely unforgiving during the summer months.
It’s best to avoid visiting the park during the months of June – September. Not only can temperatures reach well into the 100s during these months, but parts of the park (including the Fire Wave Trail) are also closed to ensure the safety of visitors and park rangers.
Time of Day
Regardless of the time of year, anytime you adventure around the desert you’re going to want to get an early start.
Starting early has a couple of benefits:
- You beat the crowds. While the Valley of Fire might not draw as many visitors as other destinations along an Arizona-Utah road trip itinerary, it gets busy nonetheless. Get ahead of the line waiting to enter the park by starting with the sun.
- You beat the heat. The summer months are not the only months it gets hot in the Valley of Fire (peep the name). Avoid tackling the Valley of Fire hikes midday if possible for the most enjoyable weather.
- You beat the sun. Not only is the sun hot, but it washes out the magnificent colors of the rock formations. The vibrant oranges and reds you see captured of the desert can really only be witnessed in the early mornings and evenings. If it’s the colors you’re after, start early.
What Is the Most Scenic Hike?
The most scenic hike in the Valley of Fire is the White Domes Trail.
The White Domes Trail is engulfed in towering pink, white, and red sandstone formations. Although the trail is short at 1 mile, its constantly changing scenery offers views of sandstone fins, rock formations, slot canyons, and vast wide open views.
If you’re up for a longer hike, consider hiking the Fire Wave, White Domes, and Seven Wonders Loop. This loop combines some of the best scenery the Valley of Fire has to offer, into one continuous loop.
Is It Worth It to Just Drive Through?
Driving through the Valley of Fire was my favorite thing we did in the entire park. It’s not just worth driving through, driving through is a main attraction in itself.
Driving from the Visitor Center to White Domes Trailhead via Mouse’s Tank Road is one of the most scenic drives I’ve taken in the southwest.
Short on time? Not a hiker? It’s too hot? Take a drive. It’s worth it.
Las Vegas to Valley of Fire
The Valley of Fire State Park is located just one hour from the Las Vegas Airport. The Park’s close proximity to the international airport makes it a perfect day trip option for those looking to escape the city for a bit.
If you’re looking for an easy, no-stress adventure option, consider booking a guided tour from Las Vegas.
These tours are a great way to explore the beauty of the Valley of Fire State Park without having to rent a car or plan an itinerary.
12 Best Valley of Fire Hikes
Valley of Fire hikes are mostly short, family-friendly, and packed with beauty. We didn’t have time to complete all the hikes on this list but that gives us even more reason to return.
1. White Domes Trail
Distance: 1.1 miles
Time: 30 min.-45 min.
Not long after you park, it’s easy to see what is so captivating about the White Domes Trail and why it’s my favorite hike in the Valley of Fire.
Though the trail is short, it features towering rock formations, sandstone fins, small slot canyons, and panoramic views.
2. Fire Wave Trail
Distance: 1.5 miles
Time: 45 min. – 1 hour
The Fire Wave Trail is arguably the park’s most popular trail and is filled with swirling colors and mesmerizing formations.
The trail begins sandy and exposed before it drops down into the colorful basin. You traverse the beautiful pink, red, and white lined rocks for about half a mile before you reach the highly sought-out “Fire Wave.”
Although the Fire Wave Trail is one of the most visited Valley of Fire hikes, please note that the trail is closed from June 1st – October 1st.
3. Fire Wave, White Domes, and Seven Wonders Loop
Distance: 3.2 miles
Time: 2 – 2.5 hours
The Valley of Fire’s two best hikes (in my opinion) can be combined into one longer trail called the Fire Wave, White Domes, and Seven Wonders Loop.
This loop is the best option for experiencing stunning views, unique rock formations, and the park’s ever-changing scenery.
While the loop route is a bit longer, it isn’t technical nor involves much elevation gain making it the perfect one-stop hike option for visitors.
Note that the Fire Wave Trail and Seven Wonders Loop is closed from June 1st – October 1st.
4. Petroglyph Canyon via Mouse’s Tank Trail
Distance: 0.8 miles
Time: 20 minutes
Petroglyph Canyon Trail is a short and mellow walk through a sandy canyon that allows visitors to witness ancient petroglyphs.
Keep your eyes peeled throughout the whole hike as petroglyphs span the entire trail. Though no one is certain exactly of the meanings behind the markings, there is an informative sign near the trailhead. Despite the trail’s briefness, do not underestimate the sandy, hot, and exposed conditions. Bring plenty of water.
As always, refrain from touching the petroglyphs and do your part in preserving the artifacts.
5. Pinnacles Trail Loop
Distance: 4.8 miles
Time: 1.5 – 2 hours
If you’re looking for a longer trail in the Valley of Fire, consider checking out Pinnacles Trail Loop.
The Loop requires hikers to trudge through a sandy, somewhat uneventful, wash before delivering hikers into a beautiful canyon. Once you reach the red pinnacles at the end of the trail you can wander through the spires taking in the stunning views.
The best part? You might have the trail all to yourself.
Make sure to download an offline map as the trail is unmarked at times making it hard to follow. Prepare for no shade.
6. Rainbow Vista Trail
Distance: 1.1 miles
Time: 20-30 minutes
The Rainbow Vista Trail is another short hike option for exploring the Valley of Fire. Beware of sandy trail conditions and rising temperatures.
Keep your eyes peeled for wildflowers, lizards, and big-horn sheep but don’t bet on them. If you’re short on time you can skip this trail without missing out.
7. Prospect Trail
Distance: 9.3 miles
Time: 3-4.5 hours
The Prospect Trail is the way to see the best the Valley of Fire State Park has to offer wrapped into one hike — if you’re up the long trek.
Along this trail, hikers can experience vibrant colors, unique rock formations, slot canyons, vista overlooks, and (depending on the time of year) wildflowers and wildlife.
Due to its hefty length, this trail is not for everyone and should only be attempted by experienced hikers in good physical condition.
Keep in mind that there is no water along the trail so make sure to pack plenty — carrying roughly one liter for every two miles of trail is a good rule of thumb when hiking in the desert.
8. Atlatl Rock
Distance: 0.1 mile
Time: 5-10 minutes
Atlatl Rock is not necessarily a trail but rather an attraction that’s worth visiting. Climb the stairs to the top to witness ancient petroglyphs and a panoramic view of the Valley of Fire.
If you’re looking for a quick hop-out-of-the-car adventure, consider exploring Atlatl Rock.
9. Elephant Rock
Distance: 0.3 miles
Time: 10-20 minutes
We skipped Elephant Rock in search of longer adventures in the park but that doesn’t mean it’s not an interesting stop.
Elephant Rock is exactly what it sounds — A large rock formation that resembles an elephant. This quick and easy hike is a great family-friendly option and one that kids are sure to love.
It goes without saying, but please do not climb on the fragile “elephant” rock.
10. The Beehives
Distance: 0.1 mile
Time: 5 minutes
The Beehives are another parking lot adventure worth a stop. While The Beehives aren’t really accessed via a trail, these unique rock formations can be explored in a matter of minutes or just viewed from the lot.
We scurried to the top of some of the rocks for a beautiful view over the park.
BONUS: Drive Mouse’s Tank Road
Driving Mouse’s Tank Road isn’t one of the can’t-miss Valley of Fire hikes, but it’s a can’t-miss adventure, nonetheless.
Roll the windows down (yes, even if it’s hot!) and enjoy the scenic road through the spellbinding Valley of Fire State Park.
Valley of Fire Camping
The Valley of Fire State Park offers several camping options including designated campground spots as well as primitive BLM sites.
The park offers two first-come, first-served campgrounds: Atlatl Rock Campground and Arch Rock Campground.
Atlatl Rock Campground is the larger of the two campgrounds, offering more sites, electrical hook-ups for RVs, flush toilets, and showers, and remains open year-round.
Arch Rock Campground is a much smaller campground, offers fewer amenities, and is closed during the summer and winter. Make sure to check seasonal campground closures before arriving.
There is a $25 overnight camping fee per vehicle for non-Nevada residents and a $20 fee for residents. This overnight fee must be paid in addition to the State Park entrance fee.
There is a great dispersed camping area just 2.5 miles from the entrance to the Valley of Fire State Park. The dispersed camping spot is free but offers no amenities.
When driving down the Valley of Fire Highway towards the park entrance, look for a gravel road veering off to the left. Along this veer, you can spot unoccupied pull-offs to set up camp.
There aren’t many hotels to choose from near the Valley of Fire State Park. If you’re just looking for a bed to sleep in and a good launching point for your adventures, check out the two hotels below.
However, if it’s luxury you’re after consider commuting from Las Vegas.
North Shore Inn at Lake Mead
Distance: 15 minutes
For the nearest proximity to the Valley of Fire State Park, check out North Shore Inn at Lake Mead. The hotel offers a swimming pool, hot tub, breakfast, and wifi. It’s nothing fancy but it will get you close to the park.
Distance: 30 minutes
A little further from the park but still closer than Las Vegas is Moapa Motel. The Motel has a bar and Mexican restaurant on site and offers wifi. It’s not Ceasars Palace by any means, but it’s a place to catch some rest before adventuring.
Packing for a Day of Hiking in the Valley of Fire
Although the hiking terrain in the Valley of Fire is nothing too strenuous or technical, the high temperatures and harsh weather conditions definitely up the ante.
Make sure to not only dress appropriately but also pack accordingly before a day of exploring the Valley of Fire hikes.
Below I’ve included a list of essentials to consider bringing for your trip. Everything on this list I personally own, use, and love.
Beat the desert heat by adventuring in lightweight, moisture-wicking, and breathable clothing. The high temperature and dry climate are sure to make an appearance while exploring any of the Valley of Fire hikes.
None of the Valley of Fire hikes are technical but you should still always wear appropriate footwear.
There’s no escaping the sun in the Valley of Fire — hence the name. Dress accordingly by wearing a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and/or long-sleeved shirts or pants to protect yourself.
For a long day of hiking in the Valley of Fire, make sure to bring a day pack.
Reusable Water Bottle
Don’t let the short distances common to many Valley of Fire hikes tempt you into carrying less water.
Many of the Valley of Fire hikes can be unmarked at times. Save yourself the headache and aimless wandering by downloading AllTrails offline maps ahead of time.
Adventuring around Valley of Fire State Park is an absolute must when visiting Las Vegas or planning a southwest road trip. Our day spent exploring many of the Valley of Fire hikes is one of my favorite desert trips to date. If you have any questions about hiking in the Valley of Fire leave me a comment in the section below.
If you’re swinging by the Valley of Fire State Park during a larger southwest road trip, make sure to check out my Ultimate Arizona-Utah Road Trip Itinerary guide for more epic stops to include along the way.
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