The desert can be a deadly and desolate place. However, in the heat and extreme landscape comes surprising beauty. In Nevada’s first state park, the Valley of Fire, rugged formations of bright red Aztec sandstone jut out of the earth; some with rough edges from thousands of years of erosion from the power of the elements above and others smooth from compression and the power of the earth below.
One of these formations, the Wave, curves from the surface with vibrant stripes of orange, pink, white, and red. Like various colors of Play-Doh twisted by a toddler, the rock rolls into the surrounding desert from the end of a larger dome and is as smooth as a skate park slope.
The 0.6-mile approach from Parking Lot #3, starts by descending to the desert floor – scattered with small sage brush, cactus, and other hardy plants. The sandy and rocky trail then travels around a tall rock fin before connecting with a slick rock trail that takes you to the formation.
Located just a short 45-minute drive northeast of Las Vegas near the north end of Lake Mead, the Valley of Fire State Park is an accessible stop for anyone traveling to the area – and a great detour for anyone travel between Zion National Park and Las Vegas. As with any desert travel, make sure you have plenty of water with you and wear sun protection. The early morning and early evening are the best time to visit this park as the colors in the rocks will appear most vibrant in the low light. Learn more about the geology, ecology, prehistory and history of the park and the nearby region at the Valley of Fire Visitor Center.