The Valley of Fire is a state park and not part of the Grand Circle that we plan to do which includes only national parks (as far as we know). But after we saw the many beautiful pictures on the Internet, we made a little detour and then even stayed three nights.
We had a little problem with our campervan (our grey water didn’t run off), so we changed our initial plans a bit and drove from the Joshua Tree National Park to Las Vegas, because here is one of the main branches of Cruise America. While they looked after our campervan, we did some grocery shopping. When we left Las Vegas afterwards, Christiane found a route that seemed nicer than the fast route along the Interstate 15 and it didn’t disappoint. The route took us into the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and then along the Lake Mead (hence the name of the recreation area). The valley and mountain panorama was just beautiful and we had to stop many times to take pictures. And all of this was just a pretest for our actual destination.
Unfortunately it was quite late when we arrived in the Valley of Fire State Park and the campground was completely full ?. A bit outside of the park, we found a spot were we could do “wild camping” which is allowed as long as you stay 60 m from the road. The spot was nice, but there was a downside. It was on the back of a mountain and during the night it got super windy and we got shaken up quite a bit.
Early in the next morning, we went into the state park, where you have to pay $10 (about 9 €) per day entrance fee. As this is a state and not a national park, our national parks pass does not count. We got lucky and found a free spot at the Atlatl Campground. It is right next to red rocks, which are typical for the Valley of Fire.
Roadtrip through the Valley of Fire
Next stop was the visitor centre, where we got some information about sightseeing spots and hiking trails. Next to the visitor centre, starts the White Domes Road, which in our view is an absolute must-do. The whole area seemed like a film set, as if someone had painted it… almost unreal!
Along the road are many parking spots where you can take a short break and take pictures or start one of the various hikes. We went the White Domes Trail and the Mouses’s Tank.
Along Mouse’s Tank we saw old rock paintings:
Back on the Valley of Fire Road, we stopped at the Elephant Rock and took a short break at the Seven Sisters:
We enjoyed a cozy evening with a nice campfire and a glass of wine. Later we invited a family from Germany to our campsite. They were in the same situation as we were the night before; desperately looking for a spot. They drove the same campervan model like we did – and as it turned out, we even met in Los Angeles when picking up the van. We didn’t noticed immediately. But then their son came to us with his Playmobil-Lucky-Luke, which in Los Angeles I had picked up from the floor after he dropped it. And that’s when it hit me, that we already met ?.
Scenic Loop Road
Directly around the rock formations at the two campsites in the Valley of Fire there is a Scenic Loop Road. On our second day we left our campervan at the campsite and walked the way from there. Again there were wall paintings, a stone arch and great rock formations to admire.
We also went to the Beehives – rocks that look like beehives:
We also went along the Petrified Logs:
In the evening we had a nice chat with our German neighbors who warmly recommended the Snow Canyon to us, which is on our way anyway.
Snow Canyon State Park
A small detour from Interstate 15 to the north and you arrive already in Snow Canyon. This is also a State Park and the entrance fee was $10 again. Here you get to see beautiful different colors nature has to offer. And above all, one can hike on petrified sand dunes ?.
We first went the Hidden Pinyon, an educational trail through a narrow gorge.
From here we walked towards the petrified dunes:
And in the background white mountains form a great contrast… but there are also dark lava rocks for a change.
That was only the third stop on our route and we are already using lots of superlatives when describing what we see. And we have the feeling, that the USA is only getting started. Anyway, we can only write what we felt at that moment. So forgive us if we use the words amazing, fantastic and mind-blowing more often in the future ?.