The three hour drive between Zion National Park and Las Vegas is strewn with small towns and stark scenery. But if you veer off highway 15 for about 30 minutes, a red planet with unique, ancient history awaits you. Meet: the Valley of Fire State Park.
The husband and I had an hour to kill on the way to the Vegas airport from Zion, so no time for hiking. That’s the beauty of Valley of Fire: the Mars lookalike has fascinating rock formations, petroglyphs and breathtaking views right off the road. For those who want to hike or rock climb, there’s some of that, too.
First up, beehive rocks. Why are they called that? Take a look:
The beehive’s grooved sandstone rocks were formed from silt carried by wind and water from different angles throughout the Jurassic Period. That’s right — this rock and most everything else in the park was around when dinosaurs roamed hundreds of millions of years ago.
Another must-see is Atatl Rock, adorned with petroglyphs from the ancient Puebloans who lived here, dating back as far as 300 BC. Climb a tall staircase to get an up-close look of these fascinating communications. It was disheartening, however, to see how tourists have scratched their names into the rock, which you can see below.
Below is one angle of Rainbow Vista, which offers panoramic viewpoints of the park.
All-in-all, the Valley of Fire is worth a stop on your drive between Zion National Park and Las Vegas. I wish we had more time to explore the different points of interest — an hour wasn’t enough. Hike if you can, and check out the visitor’s center, which serves as a museum of sorts with ancient artifacts and a lot of fascinating information.
Question: Have you visited the Valley of Fire? What did you think?