The desert south west is a large area including parts of seven states and one of the largest concentrations of National Parks, Monuments, and a great variety of desert and geological features for the outdoor enthusiast. One could spend a lifetime exploring this region and still miss many amazing locations. But, just an hour from Las Vegas is one of the most colorful areas found in this part of North America. A dazzling sunrise or set make it even more so.
Valley of Fire State Park is a small but striking park with a variety of geological features rivaling many of the best know and visited locations throughout the region. If you are limited on time, or just want a quick escape from the Las Vegas area, this is a great place to spend a day or two. Most visitors stay close to the short 10 ½ mile long park drive or adjacent hiking trails. But taking a short off trail trek reveals brilliant formations of eroded Aztec Sandstone, limestone, shales, and conglomerates. If you visit and want to venture off trail (as always) watch where you step and be careful as many of the formations are very fragile.
Do not let bad weather dissuade you from making a visit. Dramatic storm clouds or a rainbow will only add to the beauty of this landscape. Add to that the rich tapestry of colors become deeper and more saturated after a rain shower.
When flying into Las Vegas for one of my photo trips I frequently will make Valley of Fire my first or last stop. Each time I explore a new area and find new and interesting subjects to photograph. This a location where it’s easy to spend hours photography without traveling less than a mile in distance.