entering the valley of fire state park

Top Things to do in Valley of Fire: A Las Vegas Day Trip

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On our Vegas vacation with the kids last month, we knew our long weekend wouldn’t be complete without a day trip to Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas. Nevada may be best known for the lights and entertainment of the Vegas strip, but it’s also filled with plenty of outdoor adventures. Don’t miss these top picks from our favorite things to do in Valley of Fire State Park.

Planning a Side Trip to Valley of Fire State Park

The best bet is to rent a car for the one-hour drive to the Valley of Fire State Park. Since we didn’t rent a car for our stay on the strip, we picked up a rental at a nearby hotel (there are plenty of options, so there is no need to head back to the airport to rent a car – plus the cost is much lower outside of the airport).

All the stops below are easily done in a 1/2 day trip, but there is lots more to explore if you want to make a day of it.

The Valley of Fire entrance fee $10, paid at the gate once you arrive.

If you want the the full Valley of Fire experience, check out Pink Jeep tours. They’ll drive you out to the Park to see all the best spots and learn the history of the area. Lunch is also included.

Things to Do in Valley of Fire

Visit the Valley of Fire State Park Visitor Center

We always make a point to stop at the Visitor Center before exploring State and National Parks. It’s our favorite way to get all the best information about the park before setting out on your adventure. Talk to the rangers and check out the displays to learn about the best trails, park features, and wildlife you might see – and browse the gift shop!

The Visitor Center at the Valley of Fire has interactive displays about how the landscape came to be.

visitor center at valley of fire state park
Learn about the history and geology of the Valley of Fire State Park in the Visitor Center

Hike the Valley of Fire Trails

Plan a few hikes on the Valley of Fire trails. The park is filled with short, easy hikes that are great for kids.

To reach the first 3 trails, head north on Mouse’s Tank Road from Valley of Fire Hwy.

1. Mouse’s Tank

The first trail we hiked was this 0.75 mile, sandy trail through Petroglyph Canyon.

There is no climb in this trail, but the sandy terrain makes it a little more tiring than you’d expect.

At the trailhead, be sure to check out the board with images of petroglyphs you’ll see along the way (we tried so hard to find the Mystical Bat Woman, but couldn’t find her!). The kids had so much fun with this seek-and-find activity along the trail.

Mouse’s Tank is at the end of the trail. Take a peek into the rocks to see the natural basin that collects water from rainfalls.

basin at end of Mouse's tank trail
Peek into the basin at the end of the Mouse’s Tank trail

2. Fire Wave Valley of Fire

After Mouse’s Tank, continue on White Domes Road to parking area 3, on your left to one of the most popular Valley of Fire trails. The trailhead is directly across the street.

This 1.5 mile hike is a bit longer than Mouse’s Tank.

About 1/2 way along this trail, the terrain changes to sandstone and the trail seems to disappear. Watch for cairns and other markers to keep on the right track.

This hike isn’t recommended in the summer months. Temps can reach over 100° and there is little to no shade on the Fire Wave Trail.

photo op at the Fire Wave, one of the Valley of Fire trails
Magnificent wave formations were incredible even under cloudy skies.

3. White Domes

Since moving out west, one of my hiking goals has been to see a slot canyon. I was so excited to finally find one on the White Domes Trail.

This is another sandy trail, plus there is some climb that makes this trail the most difficult.

Picking up the trail to the left side of the loop brings you to the remnants of a set from the 1965 movie called ‘The Professionals.’ Continue along the trail, through the slot canyon to complete the 1.25 mile loop.

After White Domes, make your way back to Valley of Fire Hwy. Turn left to make a stop a the last two sights.

White Domes trail slot canyon top the list of things to do in Valley of Fire State Park
The slot canyon on the White Domes trail was our favorite hike of all the Valley of Fire trails

4. Petrified Logs (east)

This one wasn’t as much of a hike as it was a short walk to see the petrified logs.

The 150-225 million year old petrified logs are protected by a chain link fence. The kids had a hard time believing it was a tree and not a rock.

petrified logs at valley of fire state park
The 150 million year old log is protected by a chain link fence

There is a second location to see the petrified logs on the west side of the park. If you need to head back to Las Vegas, you can still catch the logs on the west side, but you’ll miss Elephant Rock.

5. Elephant Rock

You’ll know it when you see it!

Can you see the elephant shaped rock formation?

The elephant shaped rock on the left as you drive to the trailhead. This rock formation can be seen from the road, so if you don’t have time for all the Valley of Fire trails, you can still catch this fun rock formation.

To get an up-close look, there are two options:

  • Stay close to (but don’t go on) the road for a direct route to reach the elephant-shaped rock
  • Follow the markers at the trailhead to take the 1.2 mile loop that ends at elephant rock

We decided on the shorter route, since we didn’t want to push our luck with the kids on yet another hike. The longer trail comes highly recommended, so if you have the time, go for it!

Other Valley of Fire Things to Do

If you have more time, drive Scenic Loop Road through the campgrounds to see Atlatl Rock and Arch Rock.

More sandstone formations are across from the campgrounds at the Beehives.

Camping at Valley of Fire State Park

Atlatl Rock Campground and Arch Rock Campground have a total of 72 campsites in the Park. Atlatl Rock has 22 RV sites with water and power hookups. All sites are $20 / night (sites with hookups are an extra $10) and are first-come, first-serve.

Like the rest of the Park, there is little shade at the campgrounds, but each site has a covered picnic table.

Other Las Vegas Day Trips

Want even more outdoor adventure? Try these Las Vegas area parks:

  • Red Rock National Conservation Area, 20 minutes from Las Vegas
  • Seven Magic Mountains, 30 minutes (not technically a park, but it’s a fun desert art installation)
  • Grand Canyon National Park, 2 hrs 15 minutes
  • Zion National Park, just under 4 hrs from Las Vegas
  • Bryce Canyon National Park, 4 hrs

Have you visited this Nevada state park? Let us know your favorite things to do in Valley of Fire in the comments!

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3 thoughts on “Top Things to do in Valley of Fire: A Las Vegas Day Trip”

  1. Pingback: 28 Best State Parks To Visit This Summer - Forever Lost In Travel

  2. Glad I found your post via Pinterest. We’re heading back to Vegas after a 10-year absence and my friend who is accompanying me has never been to the Valley of Fire so we are definitely planning to go there. Thx for the tips!

    1. We do love Vegas, but it feels so good to get out for some outdoors time! Valley of Fire is a great one because there are so many short hikes, there is time to see a lot of the park.
      I loved the slot canyon, but the kids thought the petroglyphs were the best part. Have a great trip!

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