This last week, we had the pleasure of meeting up with Nathan’s parents in Mesquite, NV for a fun little weekend get away. After nearly five months of a pretty gruesome winter here in Utah, we were desperate for some vitamin D, via the SUN.
If you’ve ever driven through Mesquite on your way to or from Utah, you’ll know it’s a pretty small town in between Saint George, UT and Las Vegas, NV. Besides hanging out by the hotel pool or grabbing a bite to eat, we weren’t really sure what to do there. Thanks to a quick search on Mesquite’s town website, I discovered a nearby state park, The Valley of Fire, that deemed worth adventuring.
Valley of Fire is an absolutely stunning state park in the Mohave Desert, nestled between Las Vegas & Mesquite. It features massive, vibrant red sandstone sandwiched in between white, tan, and grey limestone as well as some pretty amazing petroglyphs and petrified trees. This area is incredibly rich with history, and should be top on the list for geology enthusiasts.
The park is large enough to spend one or two nights in (there are campsites available!), but is small enough that a day trip is completely sufficient to explore and take in all of the grandeur.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
- There is a small entrance fee. As of 2017, it costs $10 per vehicle to enter the park.
- Although the park is open year round, the best time to go is in the SPRING! Winter months can be extremely windy and during the Summer season you will be faced with scorching heat waves up to 120 degrees.
- Be prepared to bring lots of water (and sunscreen!) with you when you go. Although there are some shaded areas, most of the park is in full sun. We went in the middle of March, and it was already about 80-85 degrees outside. Stay hydrated, friends!
WHAT TO DO IN THE PARK:
- Check out the Visitor Center! We were really impressed with the center here. It wasn’t state of the art or anything, but it was jam packed with extremely informative exhibits on the plants, wildlife, geology, and history of the area. There was also a stunning desert garden on the grounds beaming with life. (we saw some pretty cool quail as well as some hummingbirds!) Plus, if you’re finding you need to tinkle – this is the place. There are restrooms both inside and outside of the facility.
- Enjoy a Picnic Lunch! Although there are no restaurants or cafes inside the park, there are several perfect picnicking areas throughout that host tables, restrooms, monuments and incredible picturesque views. One of the places I highly recommend enjoying a peaceful picnic lunch is the Cabins. Nice, shaded picnic area, and really fun to let kids run around and explore. (If you are looking for something extra special to munch on though, the visitor center sells some pretty dang delicious caramel popcorn, that I highly recommend!)
- Go Hiking! While we were in the park, we only went on one short hike. Since my in-laws weren’t able to hike with us, we didn’t want to take up too much time wandering around without them. However, when (there is no ‘if’, we WILL be returning) we go back, we already have a list of trails we want to explore.
We went on the Mouse’s Tank Trail (roughly 1 mile long), which featured some awesome petroglyphs and little pocket canyons. Some hikes that were recommended to us were The Rainbow Vista Trail (roughly 1 mile), and Prospect Trail (almost 5 miles) .
- See the Petroglyphs. How can you visit Valley of Fire and NOT see some petroglyphs? There are several areas to see petroglyphs through out the park, and all of them vary in distance and experience level. Some of them you need to hike to, while others are just a short walk or can be seen by simply pulling over onto the side of the road. Either way, they are an exquisite piece of history from an ancient civilization that used to miraculously inhabit this area!
- Enjoy the View. Seriously, and honestly, take the time to just drive around and enjoy this beautiful state park! The scenery is comparable to National Parks like Bryce Canyon or Arches in Utah. There was not a single inch of it that I did not find unappealing. There are lots of really fun monuments and places to stop that feature informative plaques. Some of our personal favorites were The Cabins, Seven Sisters, and Elephant Rock.
Have you visited this gorgeous State Park? What were your must-do’s or see’s?