The Valley of Fire is 40,000 acres of vibrant red-orange sandstone rock formations, which are illuminated by the desert sun. Established by the state in 1935, this breathtaking place is Nevada‘s largest and oldest state park.
The rock formations were most likely formed during the Jurassic period, when an inland sea receded. There is evidence that Ancestral Puebloan people were living in the area, as long as 11,000 years ago. Communities of the Basketmaker culture thrived there, followed by the Anasazi people. The beautiful petroglyphs, or rock carvings, of the Anasazi community can be seen at Atlatl rock and Mouse’s Tank, among other sites. By the time the Mormons arrived in the area in 1865, Paiute families were living there. As more white settlers and miners invaded the area, eventually the native people were pushed out to a nearby reservation. The federal government gifted 8,760 acres of the land to the state in 1931. Through efforts of the Civilian Conservation Corps over the next few years, roads and camping facilities were constructed for public use.
A fantastic location for anyone interested in geology, the Valley of Fire is awash with sandstone rock formations. The park has many famous spots. One of the most famous in the park is Arch Rock, which is a natural arch formed by thousands of years of wind and rain. Elephant Rock is also favorite of many visitors. Obviously, its name comes from its elephant-like shape. Another popular site is Seven Sisters: a formation of seven windblown red boulders. The Beehives are notable for their very unique geological striations that give them their name. In addition to all of the red sandstone rock formations, there are masses of limestones and shales all around the park as well.
Another interesting attraction at the park are the cabins, which are made from the local red sandstone. These three beautiful cabins were built in 1933, by the Civilian Conservation Corps for travellers, who were passing through on the road connecting Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. They are no longer in use as accommodations (they stand at a picnic area now), but are lovely to visit. For actual places to sleep, there are two campgrounds in the park with water, grills, and restrooms, which can accommodate everything from a single tent to a huge RV. There is even wi-fi available.
While the geological features are certainly the most notable in the park, there are many different varieties of flora and fauna around to see as well. Because it is a desert environment, many of the animals are nocturnal, but there are still opportunities to see jackrabbits, coyotes, foxes, and big horn sheep, as well as a wide variety of migratory and resident birds. There are many types of lizards and snakes in the park as well. Desert plants can be found throughout the park, including creosote bush, brittlebush, and burro brush, as well as different varieties of cacti. In the spring, desert wildflowers bloom and make the park particularly beautiful to visit. There is also a huge network of hiking trails available to take in all of the main sights in the park and explore everything it has to offer.