If I had to make a list of my favorite destinations on Earth, Valley of Fire State Park would be up there in the top five. To my Midwestern eyes, it is so unfamiliar and special that I can’t imagine spring without a trek northeast of Las Vegas for some outdoor fun.
I’ve written about the park a few times before: for my family travel blog, Wandering Off (here and here) and for the March 2013 issue of the digital magazine, Real Family Travel. So, I’ve already got your Valley of Fire itinerary set. Now, it’s time to convince you to get going.
Got an excuse or five for not visiting the park this spring? I’m about to dismantle each of them.
1. “I don’t have time.” Yes, you do. It’s only 56 miles from the heart of Las Vegas to Valley of Fire. Once you get there, you can spend as much or as little time in the park as you want. If you’re short on time, focus on the beehive rock formations (near the park’s entrance), Atlatl Rock, and the relatively short Mouse’s Tank trail.
2. “I can’t afford it.” Grab some friends and split the cost. You can all chip in for gas. Once you arrive at the park, the $10 entrance fee is per car, not per person, so that can be divided up among you and your friends too. Also, Nevada residents receive a $2 discount. Bring snacks for the car and a picnic lunch to help cut food costs for your day out.
3. “I’m out of shape and can’t do a long hike.” That’s ok! There is plenty to see at Valley of Fire that doesn’t involve a lot of walking. Drive through the park and stop to take photos, have a picnic lunch, or check out the visitor center.
4. “I can’t leave my sweet, beloved dog, even for a day.” You’re in luck. Valley of Fire allows dogs in the park as long as they remain on a leash. We took our dog with us during our most recent visit to the park, and he had a blast.
5. “I hate being outside.” What? Even when the weather is beautiful? Remember that humans were designed for time outdoors, for fresh air and physical activity. Give it a try. Keep an open mind. You’ll have more fun than you thought was possible.
If you visit Valley of Fire, remember to bring plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and a map of the park. (Maps are available at the park entrance. Just ask the ranger.) Have fun, and know that you are lucky to be able to visit such a beautiful piece of the Nevada landscape.