The Valley of Fire is one of those places highly recommended as a day-trip from Las Vegas, but not everyone makes the drive. However, you have probably seen countless photos of the spectacular Fire Wave or strange-looking Elephant Rock and thought it would be great to explore the state park.
I'm here to convince you that Valley of Fire state park is a must-see when in Las Vegas or Nevada!
The Valley of Fire has some of the most incredible scenery I have ever seen, even after spending 3 month living Vanlife and exploring Utah. Seeing the Fire Wave alone is well worth a trip!
If you are looking to go on a road trip to see the Valley of Fire in Nevada, I am sharing everything you need to know before you go. And if you would like to snap a few photos for Instagram, I'm also sharing the 7 most instagrammable places in Valley of Fire State Park, including the spectacular Fire Wave.
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What is the Valley of Fire State Park Known For
The Valley of Fire State Park is a nature preservation area south of Overton, Nevada. The state park is known for its incredible rock formations created from red sandstone. These formations stem from shifting sand dunes and were formed 150 million years ago. One of the most iconic of these rock formations is the Fire Wave which is an impressive hill with red and white zebra-like stripes.
With it's 40,000 acres, Valley of Fire State Park is home to some incredible sights, ancient petroglyphs, and a dream come true for anyone interested in geology, human history, and photography.
How to Get to the Valley of Fire
The easiest way to get to the Valley of Fire State Park is by car. It is a 50-minute drive from Las Vegas, Nevada, on I-15N and a 1 hour, 30 minute drive from St. George, Utah, on I-15S.
There is also a possibility to get to the park with a tour bus company. However, since the trail heads within the park are dispersed, I highly recommend you go there by car so you can explore the park at your own pace and spend as much time as you like at the Fire Wave.
Best Time to Visit the Valley of Fire State Park
Being located at the southern tip of Nevada, the weather at Valley of Fire is extremely dry with an average of 1 day of rain per month. Temperatures can get extremely hot in summer, with highs of well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). The best time to visit Valley of Fire is from October to April when the temperatures are cooler and you are able to explore the park all day long.
If you choose to visit during the summer months, make sure you are prepared for the heat by bringing a lot of water and having an air conditioned car. You can try to avoid the heat by entering the park right at sunrise and staying indoors between 11am and 3pm.
Many trails, such as the Fire Wave hiking trail, are in direct sunlight with little to no shade. Hiking in the intense summer heat can be dangerous.
Valley of Fire State Park Details
Entrance Fee: $10 per vehicle for day-use, $20 per night if you like to camp plus $10 for camping sites with utility hook ups.
Hours: the park is open 365 days a year, from sunrise to sunset. These are the Valley of Fire sunset and sunrise times.
Cell Service and Wifi: You won't have cell coverage throughout most of the park but there are some spots such as at the visitor center or at the White Domes Trail parking lot which have cell reception. The park offers wifi access and a 24-hour access for 1 device is $8. You can find more details about the wifi access price plans here.
Visitor Center: The visitor center is located towards the entrance of the park and is open from 9am to 4:30pm.
Facilities: There are outhouses located throughout the park at Atlatl Rock, Seven Sisters, the Cabins, near Mouse's Tank Trailhead and White Domes parking lots.
Drone Usage: The usage of drones or any remote controlled aircrafts is not allowed in the park.
If you are looking for more information on the park and any fire restrictions which might be in place, visit the Valley of Fire State Park website.
Things To Do at Valley of Fire
With a landscape this beautiful, the Valley of Fire is more than just a compilation of rocks. The best thing to do in the park is to go on hikes and explore the different areas and rock formations. Most of the loop hikes are relatively short at only a mile or less, such as the Fire Wave Trail, the Rainbow Vista hike, and the White Domes Trail.
There are a few other Valley of Fire State Park hikes which are longer such as the Old Arrowhead Road, the Prospect Trail, and Charlie's Spring. For more information on the trails, you can find a full map of all Valley of Fire hiking trails here.
In addition to hiking, Valley of Fire is also a great spot for rock climbing, camping with incredible views, wildlife viewing, and my personal favorite - taking photos of everything, especially the Fire Wave!
Valley of Fire 7 Most Instagrammable Places
With a park this big and this beautiful, knowing the most picturesque places ahead of time will help you plan your trip as well as save time while you're in the park. I put together the 7 most Instagram-worthy locations in Valley of Fire State Park, including the Fire Wave, the best times to take photos there, and also added them to a map to help you plan your trip.
The Fire Wave is by far the most impressive rock formation within the Valley of Fire State Park and it makes for an incredible Instagram photo. The combination of the red and white sandstone in zebra-like stripes across a wave-like hill is a sight like no other and also the reason why the Fire Wave is so popular.
How to Get There
From the Fire Wave parking lot, there is the Fire Wave hiking trail which will take you directly to the famous Fire Wave. The hike is less than 1 mile and relatively easy. Note that there is no shade along the way. Please make sure to bring lots of water and wear sun protective clothing.
Best Time to Take Photos at Fire Wave
Generally, the best times to take photos to have soft lighting are the first hour of sunlight in the morning and the last hour before sunset. However, if you want to capture the true vivid colors of the Fire Wave, taking photos later in the morning or early in the afternoon provides for some stunning shots as well.
Since there are no trees and is almost no shade at the Fire Wave, you won't need to worry as much about shadows in your photos.
Mouse’s Tank Road
Imagine a road which makes its way through the fire-colored sandstone rock at sunrise. You may not have heard of Mouse's Tank Road but chances are you have already seen a photo of this iconic road. The road itself is not anything out of the ordinary as it is part of the main road going through Valley of Fire State Park. However, it offers incredible views.
The best part about this instagrammable photo location is that you can create the illusion of a drone photo without actually using a drone thanks to the way the road is sloped. Make sure your photographer stands on the high point of the road and the model is further down the road. That way you can create the impression of an aerial view.
How to Get There
The perfect photo location is only a 12 minute drive from the entrance of the park and a 9 minute drive from the Fire Wave. It is right on the street and you can easily pull over with your car and snap photos as long as there is no traffic.
Best Time to Take Photos at Mouse's Tank Road
Since you are taking photos in the middle of the main road through the park, I suggest taking photos right at sunrise or sunset. That way, you will encounter the least amount of traffic and you will also have beautiful light without having to worry about harsh shadows.
Elephant Rock is exactly what the name suggests: an arch rock in the Valley of Fire State Park which looks like an elephant. Now you might think that these rock formations might not really look like an elephant but trust me - they do! I didn't believe it either until I was there in person.
The entire rock and arch which forms the elephant trunk is extremely impressive to see in person and makes for the perfect photo opportunity.
How to Get There
Elephant Rock is a mere 3 minute drive from the park entrance and is on the right side of the road when driving in. Leave your car in the parking lot and take the super short hike to see the rock formation. The hike is pretty easy and is less than a mile.
Best Time to Take Photos at Elephant Rock
Given the formation of the rock, the light is best at Elephant Rock later in the afternoon when the sun is low but has not yet disappeared behind the hills right next to Elephant Rock.
Welcome to Valley of Fire Sign
While this seems like an obvious place to take photos, there are so many unique locations within Valley of Fire that people forget to take a cute photo at the Welcome to Valley of Fire sign.
How to Get There
The sign is located at the Elephant Rock parking lot, right where the Elephant Rock trail starts. You really can't miss it.
Best Time to Take Photos at the Valley of Fire Welcome Sign
Almost any time of the day would work well to take a photo here. Keep in mind though that the light might be softer and conditions generally better to take a photo early in the morning or later in the evening.
If you are looking for rainbow-colored hills to take photos of, this is your spot! The entire rainbow vista hike provides beautiful rainbow rock views along the way and ends at the Fire Canyon Overlook. It is perfect for creating instagrammable content. There is even a mini arch on this trail which you can be creative with.
How to Get There
The Rainbow Vista parking lot is only a 15 minute drive from the park entrance and a 6 minute drive from the Fire Wave. The hike to the rainbow vista is relatively easy and only a mile long.
Best Time to Take Photos at the Rainbow Vista
Given the hills surrounding this hike, taking photos right at sunset or sunrise might cause a lot of shadows to be in your photos so you will be better off taking photos later in the late morning and early in the afternoon.
White Domes Trail
White Domes Trail is another great place to take instagram-worthy photos as it is packed with colorful rocks and a slot canyon.
The beginning of the trail is marked with purple and yellow colored rocks whereas later in the trail you make your way through the slot canyon and stumble upon white and red striped rocks. It's a gorgeous spot to explore and has countless photo opportunities along the way.
How to Get There
The White Domes Trail is the furthest trail from the park entrance but only a 23-minute drive from there, and a 3-minute drive from the Fire Wave. The drive itself is incredibly beautiful as you get to see the entire park and stop along the way to take photos.
The White Domes loop is only 1 mile and pretty easy to hike.
Best Time to Take Photos at the White Domes Trail
The best time to take photos along the White Domes trail is mid- to late-morning for the best light. If you are looking to take photos in the slot canyon, doing so later in the morning will provide for better light.
White Domes Trail Movie Set
While you're on the White Domes Trail, make sure you stop by the remnants of an old movie set to take a photo. It was used in 1965 to film the movie 'The Professionals'. You can watch the Professional trailer here. A small part of the movie set is still there and there is also a monument explaining the history of commercial filming in Valley of Fire State Park.
How to Get There
The movie set is a few minutes into the White Domes Trail hike and impossible to miss.
Best Time to Take Photos at the White Domes Movie Set
Any time of day would work to take photos here, depending on what light you are looking for. However, if you are spending the morning hiking the White Dome Trail stopping by here makes perfect sense.
Map of Most Instagrammable Places in Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire State Park is an incredible place to discover, take photos, and a perfect stop for any road trip in the Southwest US. Use this map to help you plan our your trip and include as many instagrammable places in Valley of Fire, such as the Fire Wave.
Best Phone and Camera Accessories for Incredible Instagram Content
There are so many accessories out there to make creating content easier and I'm sharing my favorite ones which have helped me create better photos and videos to share on Instagram and plan my content.
What are Your Favorite Instagrammable Places in Valley of Fire?
Now that I have shared my favorite instagrammable places in Valley of Fire - especially the Fire Wave - I am curious to hear what your favorite spots are and if I missed any to include any in this post. Please let me know in the comments as I would love to go back and explore the park more!
Make sure you pin this post to your USA road trip Pinterest board or Instagram Pinterest board for when you plan your road trip to the Fire Wave!
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Bettina you have so many incredible photos here! You make me want to take a road trip in the US and visit Nevada. Also obsessed with all your pretty dresses!!
I’ve been to this beautiful park and was stunned by the rock formations. You certainly took some amazing photos of the key spots.
I want to go to all of these! And I love your dresses. Thank you for letting us know how to get there! I love this post :).
Thank you for sharing this post. This place is now firmly on my bucket list! Ps. Your photos are incredible!
Wow your photos are incredible Bettina! I didn’t know this place but it looks incredible! Thank you for sharing those tips and useful information!
Incredible photos! We’ve been to Las Vegas several times but we’ve never been to valley of fire. We’re going to have to check it out! Great details and thanks for sharing!
Thanks for all of the details including cell phone coverage and other tid bits!
This is such a comprehensive and stunning photo guide, Bettina! I’d love to see Mouse’s Tank Road with my own eyes — it looks unbelievable!! 🙂
OMG BETTINA! Your pictures are amazing!! Loved this post so much!
This blog post was so helpful! unfortunately, I could not do all of it but next time for sure!
My daughter is eloping in Vegas, but wants to do a few shots at the Valley of Fire. Can you pay the day fee and take candid photos, or will they require a permit?
It’s such a popular photo spot, that I think there would no problem taking some candid photos there, even wedding-styled photos. Enjoy!