Who would have thought the coolest hike at Valley of Fire would be the one without bright red rocks?
My family and I were due for a visit to Valley of Fire. Fall and spring are the best times to go, for obvious weather-related reasons, and I always look forward to climbing on rocks, taking photos, and marveling at the fact that I now live in the desert rather than the plains.
On previous trips, we had hiked the Mouse’s Tank trail, marveled at the beehive rock formations, and climbed the stairs to check out the petroglyphs on Atlatl Rock. In an attempt to try something new at a park that we’d visited many times, I did some research and decided that the White Domes Loop would be a good fit: an hour of hiking round-trip and home to plenty of interesting geology. Plus, it was located in a part of the park that we had yet to explore.
To get to the White Domes trailhead, drive toward the northern part of the park. You’ll find parking, restrooms, and picnic tables near the beginning of the trail. Right away, it becomes apparent why this is called “White Domes,” since the rocks look very different from the bright red that encompasses the rest of Valley of Fire.
The majority of the trail is sand-covered. There are a few places where it is unclear which way the trail leads, but luckily there are signs to help guide the way.
Along the way, the trail will take you through a slot canyon. You’ll also find the remains of a structure that was used as a movie set in the 1960’s. A nearby sign indicates that the fragment is left over from the filming of The Professionals. The rock formations are fascinating, and the caves and crevices look like they could be home to Sand People on Tatooine. (Sorry, had to throw a Star Wars reference in there somewhere. It was either that or The Hills Have Eyes.)
Toward the end of the hike, the White Domes Loop provides a beautiful desert vista, which is the perfect place for a few photos.
As with all other trails, the normal words of caution apply at White Domes Loop: arrive prepared with water, a map, snacks, good walking/hiking shoes, sunscreen, etc.
For more information about Valley of Fire, drop by the official Nevada State Parks website.