The most beautiful drive I’ve ever taken was on State Route 169—or more specifically, the part of the highway that went through the Valley of Fire State Park. It was breathtaking! I’m telling you, as far as state parks go, this one is a must-see—especially if you’re visiting Las Vegas, where it’s situated only 55 miles away. That’s less than an hour by car, and even quicker by helicopter.
The most memorable thing from my trip to the Valley of Fire was being greeted by amazing rock formations—the likes of which I’ve never seen before. I felt as if I were getting the red carpet treatment, but here, instead of flashbulbs, everywhere I looked there were rocks gleaming in a variety of gorgeous shades of red. And would you believe these beautiful rocks are always changing? With the movement of the sun, their colors deepen and their shadows alter, making the formations take on totally different appearances from sunrise to sunset.
My first stop was to the Valley of Fire State Park Visitor Center. The staff is very friendly and I got a little inside information about the park’s background and geology. I always find I enjoy things more when armed with knowledge. I also discovered there are a ton of things to do at the Valley of Fire—from hiking and picnicking to camping. You can even cool off with a swim at Rogers Springs or Lake Mead, which are located nearby.
Another highlight of my visit to the Valley of Fire was doing the short, fairly easy White Domes loop trail. It’s just over a mile long, and I remember passing through several unique settings during the trek. I navigated rocks on a dry wash bed, scuttled on soft sand and even entered a narrow canyon—where the red rocks dazzled me yet again. About halfway through, I came across the remains of the film set from The Professionals, which was shot at the park in 1966. That was much better than viewing movie memorabilia at a museum and it cost less!
Of course, I highly recommend a drive on the six-mile scenic loop where you’ll find that many of the Valley of Fire’s most popular rock formations (like Arch Rock) are just steps away. It’s a somewhat rough unpaved road, but well worth the bumpiness as you can drive right up to most of them. Many are named for animals or other objects—such as the Beehives, Atlatl Rock and Elephant Rock—although in some cases the resemblance is a bit of a stretch. I did like the Seven Sisters formation, which is a beautiful grouping of tall, red boulders in the midst of the flat desert. These rocks had an eerily sacred presence that gave me a feeling of inner peace and tranquility.
Overall, you cannot beat the natural beauty of the Valley of Fire. It’s a great place to visit. I know you won’t be disappointed.
Written by Travel Gal, Renee Libutti