The Valley Of Fire State Park was first dedicated as a state park in 1935 and that makes it Nevada's oldest state park. It's colorful name comes from the huge spectacular red, orange and yellow sandstone formations that are exposed in abundance here. The Valley of Fire has drawn visitors for thousands of years as evidenced by the many rock art panels found there. The abundance of prehistoric rock art is one of the attractions that brings visitors. The Valley of Fire State Park is in stark contrast to the the glitz and glamour of the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip which is only a relatively short drive away, if you are in Vegas it is worth taking a break from the slots and head to this state park for some peace and quiet,
The multi-shaded red and golden yellow sandstone cliffs, boulders, rocks, soils and sand dunes in the Valley of Fire are part of the same Navajo Sandstone Formation that is found throughout southern Nevada and in many other areas of the Southwest such as in Monument Valley, Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon.
The Navajo Sandstone is the same formation found locally in places such as Red Rock Canyon and several other places in the Spring Mountains, along the North Shore Road of Lake Mead at places like 'Redstone' and in nearby places such as Utah's Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and the Arches National Park to name just a few. The red colors in the sandstone is a by product of the minerals in the rock such as iron oxides.
This truly unique place has a area of over 46,000 acres and is located only 50 to 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas (depending on the route taken and the starting point), and it is just east of the Overton Arm of the Lake Mead NRA. Valley of Fire is a place of unique beauty to which, for many reasons, people have been attracted to for thousands of years. This can be seen in the large number of intriguing Petroglyphs and archaeological remains found in several places throughout this park such as in Petroglyph Canyon and at Atl Atl Rock.
Valley of Fire History and Prehistory
The Valley of Fire was in the long ago distant past the bottom of a deep ocean basin for millions of years. This ocean eventually evolved to become part of a vast desert that existed throughout what is now the Southwest corner of the United States about 150 to 180 million years ago.
Continued deposition over the millions of years buried the once shifting desert sands deep under the earths surface. Approximately 65 million years ago orogenic activity associated with the continental subduction zone along the North American Pacific coast, caused tremendous faulting throughout the western part of the continent, uplifting and shifting the large parts of the earths crust throughout this region. This resulted in the tremendous diversity in geological formations found throughout the Great Basin, the vicinity, and in large parts of the west.
Eventually, after millions and millions of years, erosion exposed parts of the remains of that ancient desert and the place that we now call the Valley of Fire. There are over 250,000 visitors a year that come to see the Valley of Fire where sheer sandstone cliffs made of every possible shade of deep reds, gold colors and yellow colors surround everything.
It is primitive and primitive looking here. All over the place there are pink, yellow and red sand dunes with desert scrub and creosote bushes colored a bright, unexpected type of green color that contrast against the sand. The bright green color is likely due to the iron oxide minerals in the soil. The contrast is interesting and eye-catching in many places and contexts throughout the Valley of Fire.
The contrast between the grasses and desert scrubs, the colors of the sandstone, the large number of cliffs and the many, many unusual sandstone formations present countless photo opportunities. Besides the interesting and unique geology, the Valley of Fire offers hiking and picnicking opportunities throughout the year. The Valley of Fire attracts and is home to Chuckwalla's (pictured above at Atl Atl Rock) and other types of reptiles, burros, Big Horn Sheep (evidenced also in the petroglyphs) and the occasional Mustangs (seen only once near the eastern part of the Valley of Fire). These things all make the Valley of Fire a great place to visit, take outstanding photographs, picnic and to hike. Once a year there is a bike race run in the park. For others, the huge number of Petroglyphs present an interesting and unique part of the prehistory of the area. There is even a historic aspect to the Valley of Fire that visitors can explore at places such as the Mouse's Tank and the buildings left behind by the workers of the WPA made during the Great Depression of the 1930's.
In this section of our web site we hope to present many of the vistas and images of Petroglyphs that can be found in the Valley of Fire. This place is interesting and different, and does not disappoint. Much of the park can be seen in an afternoon making a visit to the Valley of Fire a great day trip.