Must Visit Spots In Valley Of Fire State Park


Stunning sunset with hiker stood on rock formation in Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas Nevada photographing swirling colors in the clouds at dusk one of the best things to do in the park

Valley of Fire State Park is a stunning red-rock landscape near Las Vegas, Nevada that’s home to a range of fun activities including hikes, photo spots and historic sites. We spent 2 days hiking, exploring and photographing the park’s colorful topography from dawn to dusk, and we think it’s one of the most underrated places to visit in the American southwest.

In this guide we show you 16 things to do when you visit Valley of Fire State Park, based entirely on our experiences.

Our Experience

Hiker with camera stood on the top of a dome at Fire Wave at sunrise in Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas Nevada
Kristen taking a photo from the top of a dome at Fire Wave during sunrise

We visited Valley of Fire for 2 days in November 2021 as part of our road trip from Seattle to Sedona. We’d just spent 5 days in Vegas and we were on our way to Zion, but we’re travel photographers so we absolutely couldn’t miss this remarkably picturesque state park. It turned out to be even better than we’d expected, and we personally visited all of the 16 places you’ll find in this guide.

We’re glad we spent a night in Overton (the only nearby lodging option) because it meant we could easily do sunset and then sunrise in the park. Hiking Fire Wave for sunrise was undoubtably our favorite thing to do in Valley of Fire, and we subsequently had several of our photos from the park published in this Gestalten travel book. Read more about us.

1. Fire Wave Trail

Stunning Fire Wave rock formations swirling patterns at sunrise in Valley of Fire State Park photography here is one of the best things to do near Las Vegas and in all of Nevada
The incredibly beautiful sunrise we had at the Fire Wave

Fire Wave is a truly unique and striking example of what happens when geology, weather and time combine to create remarkable acts of nature. And all you have to do to reach the Fire Wave is hike an easy 1.5-mile roundtrip trail with just 250 feet elevation gain.

Vibrant patterns consisting of red and white rock layers burst into life like a breath of fire as the sun rises and illuminates its sandstone surfaces. Sunrise and sunset are definitely the best times of day to see Fire Wave because the colors are softer and more vivid.

Our experience: After waking up early, we left our hotel in Overton in the dark and drove to the trailhead before hiking to the Fire Wave for sunrise. We were the only two people there, and it remains one of our all time favorite experiences in the US southwest. It’s similar to The Wave in Arizona but smaller, less busy and you don’t need a permit.

READ: How to hike Fire Wave Trail

2. Mouse’s Tank Road Photo

Famous Mouse's Tank photo in Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas perspective shot with subject small in distance backed by a road and mountains
Mark took this perspective photo of Kristen and Mouse’s Tank Road

If you google Valley of Fire and click images, you’re going to see two things: Fire Wave and a long narrow road cutting through a canyon towards a mountain. That second photo is the famous Mouse’s Tank Road, and it’s a photo spot you can’t miss when you visit the state park.

Here’s how to get it:

  • Park at Rainbow Vista
  • Cross the road carefully
  • Walk south towards Mouse’s Tank Road
  • Find a view you like and leave the photographer there
  • The subject will continue down and find a tall rock
  • Photographer lines the subject up with the road
  • Take the photo

Our experience: We had so much fun taking photos here, and we both took a turn at being the subject. Turns out Kristen’s a better model than Mark! Take care on the rocks because they’re very uneven, rugged and sharp. A photo isn’t worth a broken ankle.

3. White Domes Trail

Slot canyon on a hike in Nevada with narrow walls made of white sandstone
We weren’t expecting this slot canyon on White Domes Loop

White Domes Trail is an easy 1-mile roundtrip hike with 200 feet elevation gain located at the very end of Mouse’s Tank Road. It’s a fun hike suitable for the whole family, and it has plenty of unexpected surprises along the way, including caves, slot canyons, sandy trails and colorful rocks.

Our experience: We honestly didn’t know what to expect from White Domes, but it turned out to be our second favorite hike in Valley of Fire. Short trails with lots of bang for your buck are right in our wheelhouse, so we enjoyed the varied topography and formations immensely.

4. Pink Canyon

Mark from Where Are Those Morgans hiking through Pink Canyon in Valley of Fire State Park with shadows inside the canyon and sunlight above the canyon walls vibrant colors in the sandstone
Mark walking through the vibrant Pink Canyon not long after sunrise

Pink Canyon (also known as Pastel Canyon) is a short, deep and snaking V-shaped canyon filled with beautiful pink and blue rock layers. You can access Pink Canyon either from Fire Wave or from one of few roadside parking spaces on Mouse’s Tank Road near this location.

Our experience: We parked on a concrete slab just off the road, walked for a few minutes on a sandy trail and turned straight into the stunning canyon. It’s so easy to visit, and we’d say Pink Canyon is probably the most picturesque formation in the park after Fire Wave, so don’t miss it if you’re interested in photography.

5. Arch Rock

Arch Rock red sandstone arch formation against a blue sky in Nevada
Photo we took of Arch Rock against a blue sky in late afternoon

Arch Rock is a naturally formed arch close to the park’s west entrance and campground. Wind and rain have carved the photogenic arch over millions of years, and it’s a common place to see bighorn sheep climbing around the rocks. To access the arch you’ll drive a narrow gravel road behind Atlatl Rock and park here.

Our experience: Seeing Arch Rock was by no means the most exciting part of our trip to the park, and climbing isn’t allowed so there’s no way to liven it up. But we think it’s definitely worth visiting for a quick photo, and we were also able to see lots of bighorn sheep walking on steep rock faces.

6. The Beehives

Hiker stood on The Beehives rock formation in Valley of Fire State Park with a hat on a sunny day
Kristen climbing on a quieter section of The Beehives

The Beehives are unique sandstone formations featuring various layers, holes, patterns, grooved lines and giant cone shaped tops that look just like beehives. It’s the first area you’ll reach after entering Valley of Fire west entrance (closest to Las Vegas) and it has plenty of parking.

Our experience: It was busy on Beehives near the parking area, so we decided to head further into the formation and within 2 minutes we were alone. It was a great place to take photos because the topography was a mish-mash of eroded rocks.

7. Petroglyph Canyon Trail

Hiker with camera stood in front of a hole in red sandstone rock
Kristen at a water hole in Petroglyph Canyon

Petroglyph Canyon is the easiest place you can go to see ancient rock art in Valley of Fire State Park. It’s an easy 0.7-mile roundtrip hike with basically no elevation gain that passes by rock art and eventually leads to a dead end at Mouse’s Tank, which is named because of its tall cliffs resembling a block of swiss cheese, like a mouse has taken small chunks out of the rocks.

Our experience: We enjoyed seeing the various prehistoric petroglyphs, natural water holes and intriguing cliffs at the end. It’s well worth doing when you visit the park, but be warned the trail is made of deep sand so it’s tougher going than expected!

8. Atlatl Rock

Metal staircase leading up to Atlatl Rock petroglyphs in Nevada
Here we are about to climb the steps to Atlatl Rock

Atlatl Rock is a tall standalone rock formation featuring perfectly preserved 4,000 year old Native American petroglyphs and rock art. The name Atlatl refers to a spear being thrown or a spear-thrower, a drawing which you’ll see when you arrive at the top of the metal staircase. Climbing on the rocks and touching the petroglyphs is strictly prohibited.

Our experience: Atlatl Rock’s petroglyphs are among some of the clearest and most well-preserved examples we’ve personally seen. It was one of the busier areas in the park, so we waited until it was quieter which worked out well because the rock art is best seen in late afternoon when the drawings are in shadow.

9. Fire Cave

Fire Cave red sandstone rocks at sunset from the outside
The Fire Cave exterior glowing under late afternoon sun

Fire Cave is a small series of eroded cave-like formations that are big enough for you to go inside, and once you get inside you’ll see beautiful curves and smooth domes, so don’t forget your camera. A standout feature inside Fire Cave called Windstone Arch was once its centerpiece, but unfortunately that collapsed in 2021. You can reach the cave by parking here.

Our example: Fire Cave was the very first place we saw upon arrival to the park and there were no others around, so we almost missed it. The inside of the cave was stunning, so we moved around to find different perspectives, contrasts with shadows and lights, and subjects using the interior rocks.

10. Fire Canyon And Silica Dome

Fire Canyon Silica Dome landscape red and white sharp rugged rocks
The information board you’ll find at Fire Canyon

Fire Canyon and Silica Dome are rugged red and white colored rocky areas which you can access by parking at the end of Fire Canyon Road. The landscape suddenly changes from cream to red as iron stains the rock, and sand grains here are almost pure silica. You can walk a short easy trail or simply see it all from your car.

Our experience: We arrived at this viewpoint at the worst time of day around lunchtime. It’s a south facing view and the sun was directly ahead of us, so we recommend you visit either early morning or late afternoon for a better experience. It’s also completely exposed so take care on hot days.

11. Seven Sisters

Seven sisters rock formations in Nevada under an intense blue sky with swirling clouds at dusk
Swirling clouds forming in a deep blue sky above Seven Sisters

Seven Sisters is a series of 7 tall red rock formations located in a line, that have been relentlessly eroded over time. They were once part of the surrounding rocks but weathering has reduced the area to just seven boulders filled with holes. The parking lot is located off Valley of Fire highway.

Our experience: We parked up, used the vault toilets and walked out into the open land behind Seven Sisters to see if it would open up a nice perspective, but it didn’t. The best photo’s here are by creating an acute angle with the 7 boulders so they’re noticeably in a line.

12. The Cabins

Historic Cabins made of red sandstone rocks in Nevada with an information board
Here we are reading the information board about The Cabins

The historic cabins in Valley of Fire State Park were built back in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to accommodate travelers visiting the park, using nothing but recycled materials from the immediate area. You can look inside the cabins and you’ll also find a picnic area which works well if you’ve packed lunches for your group.

Our experience: We’d already eaten our lunch by the time we arrived at The Cabins, so we quickly looked around the buildings, took some fun photos through open windows and continued to the next stop.

13. Elephant Rock

Elephant Rock red sandstone formation from below with bright blue sky
Can you see the elephant shaped rock formation?

Elephant Rock is a unique rock formation shaped like (yes you guessed it!) an elephant. In our photo above you can see its trunk extending diagonally from right to left. It also appears to have a hump, so maybe it should be called a camelephant instead? It’s located close to the east entrance, and you’ll park here before walking up to the formation.

Our experience: After parking in the Elephant Rock lot, we took a few quick photos of ourselves in a Valley of Fire State Park photo frame, then set off walking uphill to the formation. We stopped below the elephant, but you could continue climbing beyond the formation to see it from the other side.

14. Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock red sandstone formation with boulders naturally stacked
The tall and narrow Balanced Rock is located near the visitor center

Balanced Rock is a very easy, short and flat hike leading to a tall narrow rock formation with a boulder balancing precariously on top. You can walk to it directly from the Valley of Fire visitor center parking lot, and it’s suitable for the whole family.

Our experience: A lot of parks in the American southwest have a “Balanced Rock” but this one is a good example of the power of erosion and weathering. It took us no longer than 10 minutes roundtrip to see it, so we think it’s definitely worth doing.

15. Rainbow Vista

View from the end of Rainbow Vista Trail in Nevada of red rock landscape called Fire Canyon
The Rainbow Vista viewpoint overlooks Fire Canyon

Rainbow Vista Trail is a sandy and rocky 1-mile roundtrip hike with 100 feet elevation change that leads to an overlook with views over smooth domes, sharp ridges, rising towers and rugged valleys in Fire Canyon. It’s easy enough but there are sections with deep sand and very light scrambling.

Our experience: We hiked Rainbow Vista during the hottest part of the day and even at the end of November the heat made it tougher. The rainbow colors are actually better near the trailhead, so only go to the end if you want to see a nice vantage point over Fire Canyon.

16. Seven Wonders Trail

Kristen from Where Are Those Morgans hiking Fire Wave with a camera and red fleece at sunrise in Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas in Nevada on swirling smooth red and white sandstone
Kristen walking on the stunning patters of Fire Wave

Seven Wonders Trail is a 2-mile hike with 200 feet elevation change which includes Fire Wave, Pink Canyon, Striped Rock, Kaolin Wash, Crazy Hill, Thunderstorm Arch and Fire Cave. It begins at Fire Wave Trailhead, but instead of hiking straight to the Fire Wave and back, you’d hike a loop in the opposite direction which ends at Fire Wave before returning to the trailhead.

Our experience: Because we hiked to Fire Wave for sunrise, we didn’t end up hiking this in a loop. But we highly recommend you do it this way if you don’t go to Fire Wave for sunrise because you’ll tick off more formations in one fun hike. You could even include White Domes loop into this hike!


Click or touch the map below to activate. Zoom in and out, move around the map and see the locations for each place we’ve listed in this guide.

Map key:

  • Red – Hikes
  • Orange – Photo spots
  • Black – Entrances

The Morgan Conclusion

Woman smiling through a cut out polaroid picture frame with greetings from Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas in Nevada
Kristen wishing everyone greetings!

Valley of Fire State Park is filled with fun hikes and stunning photo spots. It’s a great place to visit on a day trip from Las Vegas, but we highly recommend hiking Fire Wave for sunrise if you can manage it.

We think the photo spot overlooking Mouse’s Tank Road, Fire Wave, Pink Canyon, White Domes and hiking Seven Wonders Trail are the things you should prioritize if you’re short on time. If you have a full day, relax, take it slow and enjoy exploring this underrated natural landscape!

More From Las Vegas

Want more Nevada content? Head over to our Nevada Travel Guides to explore State Parks, beautiful landscapes and the best things to do in Las Vegas.

We hope this guide to visiting Valley of Fire State Park helps with planning your visit to Nevada!

Please let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Mark and Kristen

Enjoy this guide? Pin it for later!

Note: This article contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

All Rights Reserved © Where Are Those Morgans, LLC. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, maps, graphics, etc.) in whole or in part is strictly prohibited.

Leave a Comment