Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park

One of the most amazing state parks I’ve ever been to is just an hour away or so from Vegas – well worth the detour when you’re in the area.  I had a Vegas trip scheduled with friends in July 2012, but I knew there were a few landmarks I wouldn’t be able to catch with them.  With that in mind, I decided to head out by myself 3 weeks earlier and check out some of the less stereotypical Vegas spots, but my primary goal was to see Valley of Fire.

Pulling into the park, I started to hear a metallic crinkling noise coming from my engine under heavy load.  I pulled over by the entrance sign to snap a photo and then call my mechanic and confirm that it was ‘just’ pinging.

Entering the park

Eric talked me through it and confirmed it was just pinging, so I planned to take it easy until I could get some higher octane gas in the big twin.   I then putted around on these beautiful roads…

One of the many examples of why they use this place for car commercials

…over to the service station to pay the entrance fee and check out the first landmark, Elephant Rock.

See if you can guess why it’s named the way it is…

Moving through the park, the next highlight is a set of cabins built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.) soon after the Valley of Fire became a state park.  Constructed of local sandstone, they were used for many years to shelter campers – visitors were free to use the cabins as needed.

Unfortunately, they are now off limits for camping and are being preserved “as a reminder of the work accomplished by the C.C.C. throughout Nevada.”  Part of the preservation needs are due to the increasing popularity of the park – in 1936, approximately 9,000 people visited Valley of Fire.  Now the park averages 200,000 visitors/year.

Interior of the largest cabin.

Baby Jack does a little exploring of his own.

One of the best parts of Valley of Fire is a short hike through a side canyon FULL of petroglyphs like these.

Incredibly (for me), I actually got to the end of a designated hiking trail. My reward was seeing this sheep soon after I started to head back. After a few moments, it scaled the rock face with a speed I couldn’t believe.

Took me a while to try and follow the bighorn. My shadow looks pretty insignificant.

By the time I got to the top of the hill, the sheep had already bounded off to the next one.  You can sort of see her off to the left.

Encountered a group of tourists from Wyoming who had decided to just lay around, get drunk, and wait for the sun to set. Not a bad idea.

Getting some off-roading in where I can. Here’s the road into Fire Canyon, which is notable for sharply angled layers of rock caused by seismic forces.

Again, another example of why they film so many car commercials here.

I loved the color gradients in this rock.  Like a mini-sunset.

More beautiful roads. I may be a little obsessed.

Saw another bighorn sheep just off a different trail. Unfortunately, he’s near the end of his life and had pretty much been exiled from the rest of the pack.

I felt bad so I gave him some almonds. There’s apparently some guy who lives nearby and comes by on a daily basis to feed this sheep, who has a name that I’ve since forgotten.

Baby Jack and I get some off-roading in to wrap things up before heading back into Vegas.

I loved the 50’s style font they used all throughout the park. Good night!

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