Valley of Fire

 

Valley of Fire State Park is located only six miles from Lake Mead and 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Nevada's oldest State Park, Valley of Fire State Park was dedicated in 1935. The rough floor and jagged walls of the park contain brilliant formations of eroded sandstone and sand dunes more than 150 million years old. These features, which are the centre piece of the park's attractions, often appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun's rays. Other important geological features include limestones, shales and conglomerates.

This popular park is open all year, but since temperatures usually exceed 38°C in summer and can get up to 49°C, the best time to visit is in spring and autumn. Less than an hour’s drive from Las Vegas, it is reached by the Valley of Fire Road, a designated Nevada Scenic Byway, which links Interstate 15 with the park, and runs through it between the east and west entrances. (There is an entrance fee per vehicle.) The Visitor Center should be visited first (open daily, 8.30 to 4.30) for safety reasons, and to learn how to protect the ecology of the desert while using the park. It has exhibits on the geology, ecology and history of the area. There are two fully equipped campgrounds in the park, and other picnic areas with toilets. Numerous walks to see the spectacular rock formations such as Elephant Rock are on offer.

The area of the park has been occupied from about 300 BC, and prehistoric inhabitants have left examples of rock art at several sites. They include those known as the Basket Maker people and later Anasazi Pueblo farmers from the Moapa Valley nearby. The flora and fauna of the park reflect its desert environment: cactus, the brittlebush and creosote bush are common.

The desert marigold and desert mallow flower in spring. You may be lucky enough to see the rare desert tortoise or one of the many species of snakes and lizards. The coyote, kit fox and spotted skunk are common, as are the antelope ground squirrel and jackrabbit. Numerous species of birds are resident, and others pas through the park on their migration.
Valley of the Fire State Park makes an excellent day out from Las Vegas and a fine natural contrast to the man-made environment of the ‘Entertainment Capital of the World’!

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