We ended up missing our flight home from Las Vegas, but Virgin Atlantic were very good and allowed us to transfer our flights home for the next available flight. There was some sort of holiday weekend going on, so the next day’s flight was already fully booked, as were many of the hotels. In the end, we opted to stay at Caesars palace in one of the deluxe rooms at the top of the taller tower (69th floor).
We quite literally managed to get lost in Caesars palace as it’s mind bogglingly huge. Even though we paid for one of the more expensive, newly refurbished rooms, it was not nearly as nice as the standard room in the Bellagio, but we opted to stay there as it was decidedly less expensive and was conveniently just next door.
Since our stay gave us an additional 2days in Las Vegas to explore… We decided to use it to visit The Valley of Fire which we had flown over in the helicopter on our way to visit the Grand Canyon… It looked bizarre from the air, as the muddy coloured dessert and mountains suddenly gave rise to and area of dramatic and unexpectedly different looking deep fiery-red mountains, that looked like they didn’t belong to the surrounding area at all. These red sandstone formations, formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of dinosaurs, and they are the centerpiece of the park’s attractions, and get their name since they appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun’s rays.
The Valley of fire is the oldest state park in Nevada, covering an area of 34,880 acres, and was dedicated in 1935
So we extended our car hire and drove the hour or so out to The Valley of Fire National Park. It was about $10 to enter the park, but we both agreed that the $10 gave us one of the most special days our holiday (and possibly one of my favourite memories to date of quality ‘us time’ that I have shared with my guy, as I really enjoy hiking through areas of natural beauty with him). It was really lovely, and I cant recommend a visit enough! It was possible to camp in the national park too.
Complex uplifting and faulting of the region, followed by extensive erosion, created the present landscape. These rock formations actually used to be under the seabed! The rough floor and jagged walls of the park contain brilliant formations of eroded sandstone and sand dunes more than 150 million years old. Other important rock formations include limestones, shales, and conglomerates.
The first thing we saw was the Arch Rock, which is a naturally formed arch of rock that is quite startling when you first see it, we then came to an area with a large rock called Atlatl Rock, which you can climb to see (3000 year old) ancient petroglyphes (drawings in the rocks made by ancient Pueblo Peoples tribes).
Our favourite part of the day came when we parked at the Rainbow Vista area, where you can see starkly contrasting colours in the rock formations that give a rainbow effect. We hiked down a trail, and ‘talked’ to a little mountain goat that was bleating at us from the top of a rock formation high above the valley we were exploring, and also saw quite a few lizards. It was a really lovely walk, though I am glad we did visit the visitor’s centre before we hiked through …As Brits, I think we tend not to think about the danger of snakes and large spiders, and this area has quite a high rattle snake population, so it’s worth being mindful of that, and wearing proper shoes rather than flip flops etc.
One of my favourite memories from the hike was being startled by a noise that sounded like a loud belch echoing off the hilly walls of the valley we were hiking through… At first that is what I thought it was-perhaps a teenager being a jerk… When it happened again, I looked up to the source of the noise to see a mountain goat looking right down at us, and trying to communicate directly with us! My partner “BAAAAA-ed” back at him, and he moved forward, right to the edge of his rock, and started engaging in a full on ‘conversation’ with my partner. Utterly hilarious! Check back later and I will upload the video into the post for you tonight.
The Valley of Fire area is apparently used as the setting for quite a number of adverts, and it’s easy to see why! …Aside from the obvious beauty of the landscape and the backdrop of vivid colours, and strange looking rocks and arches, the roads themselves are also worth photographing, as they snake their way through the hills and valleys. This was our favourite picture of the roads through the area.
I would probably go out of my way to visit this area again, and cannot stress how great this place is for a visit if you are vacationing in Las Vegas for any length of time. We left at about 11am and had plenty of time there, although I would have liked longer to hike around the area called the White Domes. The other thing I would say is take a packed lunch! We did not realise that there would be nowhere to buy food nearby, and were starving by the end of the day!
I’m SO glad we managed to squeeze this experience into our trip, as it is so unlike anything I have seen in the past, I could imaging this being the shooting location for a film set on Mars! Also, if you’re staying in Las Vegas and you’re hiring a car, it’s very easily accessible. Probably the best thing about this is that it didn’t cost a fortune… I felt extremely lucky to have seen this, expecially as it wasn’t something that featured highly in any of the tourist reviews that I read when doing my research on Las Vegas and the surrounding areas.
The Valley Of Fire Experience rating – 10/10 – It was easily one of the most memorable places we visited, and I preferred this day out to the day we spent visiting The Grand Canyon… It was lovely to escape the glitz, glamour, lights and fakery of Las Vegas and see something of natural beauty that has stood here for millions of years unspoilt and more or less untouched. Our day hiking around The Valley of Fire will stay etched into my memory as one of the most lovely, spontaneous memories I have to date.
- Be aware of the dangers of hiking through a the area, there are rattle snakes, and poisonois spiders and scorpions in the area… We didn’t encounter any of the above thankfully, but it is something to be mindful of.
- Taking the above in mind-wear sensible shoes.
- Take a picnic with you, there are no cafes or shops in the Park (certainly none that we encountered).
- Although it is hot during the day, it can get very cold at night in the desert. I wore a vest, a long sleeved tee-shirt and a fleece and I was still cold!
- Do not climb on the rocks, some are maked into walking routes, but it is easy to see that these rocks are made from very porus rocks, and are easily damaged… Many of the rick formations (especially near the natural arches look like they could be snapped like a stick of chalk.
- Do take WARM clothing if you sra staying past sunset in the desert. It can get extremely cold at night.