Sunday, October 26, 2014

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Valley of Fire State Park, one of the parks in the Nevada state park system, is a real treasure. You can easily spend a day -- or more -- exploring this natural wonder. We made a quick run through the park, checking all the areas, but we have certainly put it down on our "to do" list, and we hope to return for some camping one day and some intensive exploring. Be forewarned, though, that temperatures here can be formidable during warm weather months. When we return, I plan to do so sometime from November 1 to March 1.

A map and other information is provided in the park brochure.

The park is the oldest and largest in the Nevada state park system. It is full of interesting rock formations, and if you are alert, you might even catch sight of some interesting wildlife.

There are two entrances to the park, one on the east off Hwy 169 (which is the one we used), and the other from the west from Interstate 15. We entered from the east. After stopping at the self pay station and paying our $10 entrance fee, we primed the camera. We could tell there would be a lot of photo opportunities here.

The Cabins, as they are known, were built by the CCC when the park was formed. Originally, they provided housing for tourists. They really blend in to the landscape.
The main park road is the east-west road we entered on. About 4 or 5 miles inside the park, the Visitor Center is located next to a paved road that goes about 6 miles north into the park. These are the only paved roads.

Stop at the Visitor Center. In addition to numerous exhibits, it also contains the only residential style restrooms that I saw in the park. They are located inside the Visitor Center. There are additional restrooms located just behind the Center, but I do not know anything about them.

The Visitor Center is located near the center of the park, and is situated against a backdrop. There are numerous displays inside as well as flush toilets.
The road north contains probably the most dramatic scenery in the park. The terminus of this road is at the White Domes. There are numerous places to pull off and take photographs, and many of these also have pit toilets available. Some places have short hikes that take you to places of interest, such as Mouse’s Tank.

This is the road that stretches into the north section of the park.

Donna found a rock to stand on. Donna likes rocks. Notice the coloring in the large rocks behind her.
This is Silica Dome. The colors are much more striking in person.
This is Fire Canyon. Like Silica Dome, its colors are much more impressive in person. This picture and the one above look quite similar, don't they.
These are the White Domes, located at the northern terminus of the road.
Near the north end of this road, Donna and I were surprised when a pair of desert mountain sheep crossed the road directly in front of us. As I was readying the camera, Donna watched the pair and was amused when the larger ram in the back ran up to the smaller one in front and butted its rear end, as if to say, “Hurry up and cross the road before these idiots run over us.” It’s always exciting to see wildlife in places like this, especially wildlife unfamiliar to us.

Donna snapped this picture of the two mountain sheep after we had turned around at the White Domes. We had originally seen them before reaching the Domes but were fortunate to see them again.

This was the picture I snapped when we first saw the bighorn sheep. We were surprised when they wandered onto the road in front of us, and by the time I stopped the car and got the camera, the smaller of the pair had strayed out of sight.

After returning to the intersection with the main road near the Visitor Center, we turned right (west) and wound to the west end of the park to check out the two campgrounds located there. You never know when we might want to return and do some camping and hiking. We also checked out some petrified logs that are found in that area.

Atlatl Rock. Unfortunately, I did not know the significance of the rock during our trip, so we did not venture up. The rock contains Indian rock art, including a depiction of the atlatl, thus the name of the rock.
Petrified log. There were several examples at this location in the western end of the park, near Atlatl Rock. All are contained within chain link fences for their protection. Other examples lie in the eastern part of the park.
I will not attempt to describe the landscape; I do not have the words. If you’ve never been in this part of the country, you would be impressed. The park itself is well run. The roads have good surface, restrooms are plentiful throughout the park, and places of interest are well-marked. When in Las Vegas, take time from your activities and venture out to this beautiful state park.

Side note about camera. I was happily snapping photo after photo when suddenly a message popped up on the viewing screen indicating that the memory was full. I had only taken about 30 photos. We stopped the car and downloaded to the computer. I then changed the setting on the camera regarding picture resolution. I went to far to the other extreme, and several of the next pictures in the Lake Mead area were not as good as the ones taken with the higher resolution. after some trail and error, I was finally able to find a setting that allowed good resolution but also a high number of pictures. I will also need to pick up more memory cards for future trips.

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