When most people visit Las Vegas they only focus on the Strip, thinking only of gambling, drinking, clubs, shopping, and partying. Yes, you definitely can do those things in Vegas, but if that is all you consider doing you are going to make a big mistake.
There are actually so many other awesome things to do within an hour from the Las Vegas Strip. One of those things is the Las Vegas Valley of Fire…i.e. the perfect Las Vegas day trip.
A Day Trip To The Valley Of Fire In Las Vegas
The Valley of Fire State Park is located in the middle of the Mohave Desert, about one hour northeast of Las Vegas.
The park is a phenomenal destination for a scenic drive, hiking, camping, and even weddings. Between the two entrances to the park is a 10 and ½ mile scenic road, with a number of quality hikes and campgrounds branching off of it.
What to see at the Valley of Fire
Fire Wave Trail
Have you heard of “The Wave” in Arizona? It is a gorgeous sandstone formation that shows flowing waves going through the rocks.
Tons of people want to visit, but many who want to are not able to due to limitations on the total number of visiting permits given out each day. To get in you literally have to enter a raffle for one of the 10 permits for the next day.
Would you want to see “The Wave” but don’t want to deal with the uncertainty and hassle? Conveniently, Las Vegas has its own wave at the Valley of Fire. While it is smaller, it is still shows the undulating waves flowing through sandstone.
The fire wave Valley of Fire experience is a whole lot easier to access. It only requires an easy hike that is about a mile and a half long.
Watch a video of the entire trail! The best part is at the end. Seriously, so beautiful!
White Domes Valley of Fire hike is another trail worth exploring. It is only 1.1 miles long, but features gaps going through narrow canyons, a wide array of colors, and the famous sandstone rocks with white domes.
Elephant Rock Valley of Fire trail isn’t the best in the entire park, but it does feature a rock feature that really resemble a gigantic elephant. The Elephant Rock is only .3 miles from a parking lot, so it’s easy to get a quick peak!
Pink Canyon Valley of Fire is a rock formation that literally has a pink hue. What more could you want on a hike than to spot pink sandstone? It is not officially marked on the map (which I find borderline offensive that the pink rocks aren’t noted), but it is located at wash number 5. You can spot it by looking for a small sign labeled #5, and then heading west. You should run into it very quickly.
Arch Rock Valley of Fire isn’t its own hiking trail, but rather an ideal photo spot as it sits immediately on the side of the road. Arch Rock campgrounds are nearby and offer a perfect contrast if you want to spend a night away from the glitz of the Strip.
Book your tour: From Las Vegas: Grand Canyon West Bus Tour
Other important things worth noting for your day trip to the Valley of Fire State Park:
Weather at Valley of Fire
You may be curious about the weather Valley of Fire offers. I’m sure it is not surprising to hear that in the summer it averages over 100 degrees fahrenheit in the day (so bring lots of water) but many people do not realize that in the fall and winter it can actually get pretty cold, sometimes even going below freezing (32 degrees fahrenheit).
Getting into the Park
It is only costs $10 per vehicle to get into the park (so cram the whole group in to one car). There are rangers who can give you a map and help answer questions, or a self pay station. Camping in Valley of Fire is only $20 per night, which is not only an amazing experience, but can be a substantial cost savings compared to a hotel on the Strip.
Directions to Las Vegas Valley of Fire
Car rentals in Vegas are typically pretty cheap, and directions to Valley of Fire are pretty easy. Las Vegas to Valley of Fire drive time is only about an hour, and it is really easy to navigate.
Head north on interstate-15 until you see the Valley of Fire exit and then turn right until you end up in the park.
Las Vegas to Valley of Fire drive
Red Rock Canyon vs Valley of Fire
Two of the most popular nature getaways from Las Vegas are the Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon.
So what is the difference between the two? Which one is preferable in the matchup between Red Rock Canyon vs Valley of Fire? The answer is both, but it depends on your schedule.
Red Rock Canyon is closer and features great hikes, but I don’t think it has quite as much to see as the Valley of Fire does. Valley of Fire is farther away though, so if you only have a quick morning or afternoon to get away, you may want to do Red Rock Canyon, vs Valley of Fire if you have a full day.
Where to Stay in Las Vegas
Overall Favorite: Bellagio Hotel & Casino – A Luxury resort with five pools in a courtyard setting. The rooms are the ultimate luxury. This hotel features a free water show with fountains synchronized to music is right in the middle of the Strip.
Most Luxurious – Aria Resort and Casino – One of the newer hotels on the strip (opened December 2009). This was the hotel that my husband and I chose to stay in the night we got married, before heading out on our honeymoon to Iceland. It can be pricey, so if you are going to stay here make sure to take advantage of all the features of City Center has to offer. The shopping, restaurants, pools, and spas cannot be beat.
Family Choice: Circus Circus – This property’s location is right off the Strip, so you have immediate access to any of the big casinos, yet you can book Circus Circus at an extremely low rate. On more than one occasion I’ve had family with little kids book this for $19 a night.
Circus Circus also features its own INDOOR amusement park, Adventuredome. Adventuredome is a cheap way for kids to get to experience smaller versions of all the rides at a typical amusement park (roller coasters, bumper cars, boat swings, etc). My nieces and nephews thought this amusement park was just as good as Disney Land (it’s not), but it is a fraction of the cost.
Budget Choice: The Golden Nugget – Located off of Fremont Street, or what many people now call Old Vegas. This hotel recently received a complete renovation, and now the rooms feel brand new, and are beautiful. My favorite feature of this hotel (other than the price) is the waterslide that goes straight through a shark tank. Seriously, a water slide that goes within inches of huge sharks! I have literally booked this hotel for friends at a rate of $25 per night, though in high season and on weekends it is more expensive.