Valley of Fire State Park, NV


Leaving Zion, it was a good summer!

Sunday, October 5
“You’re welcome, enjoy your day!”

It’s 8:45 am and Julie and I are at work. The work that supposedly ended on the 3rd. This morning the plan was to stop in right at open and pass the store key back to our boss, pick up two yogurt parfait, and then hit the road. We arrived at 8:20 or so, hoping to surprise Jill by getting the store ready to open so she’d be set to go right when she arrived at 8:30, but 8:30 has come and gone and she hasn’t showed up… and the campers were waiting to come in.

Valley of Fire, it's gorgeous

Valley of Fire, it’s gorgeous

As it turns out, Jill, was pretty sick overnight and is running late. Soon enough things are sorted out and Julie and I pick up our breakfasts and are on the road, if a bit later than expected. Next stop: Valley of Fire!

Zion is already getting busy as we pull up to the pay station, at least Cas is small enough that I don’t need to shell out the extra $15 fee to get through the tunnel – just one more point to add to the list of reasons why I love my small RV.

Petroglyphs, the bighorn sheep played a big role in their lives


Miraculously, as we’re driving through the park, there is no one at the pull-out for the arch just past the tunnel. I quickly slide in and get a halfway decent shot of Cas inside Zion proper. It’s been a great summer and I’ll miss the red cliffs and cool waters here, but the road is calling and I must go.

I retrace my path I followed to pick Julie up from the airport. Through the town of Hurricane, onto I15 (now fully repaired, yay!) through a corner of Arizona and into Nevada. The turnoff for Valley of Fire is before Las Vegas though, about four hours of driving while towing which is a pretty short drive day for me.

A sweet site

A sweet site

Valley of Fire State Park is surrounded by muddy gray brown cliffs with very sparse vegetation. Even now in October the daytime highs are in the upper 80’s to low 90’s, it’s definitely not the kind of place you want to spend time outdoors in the summer. So what makes this valley in the middle of the desert worth visiting? The geological formations! Down in the valley the muddy cliffs give way to fantastically shaped jutting rocks in a plethora of colors. There’s red, white, gray, yellow, pink, and purple, sometimes all mixed together in the same canyon. It’s a feast for the eyes, and the oldest and largest site in the Nevada State Park system.

Petrified log

Petrified log

And despite how gorgeous it is, it really isn’t a busy park. The entrance fee is $10 per car per day, and the two campgrounds are only $10 a night for a dry site or Atlatl Campground has some at $20 a night if you want electric and water (both campgrounds are first come first served). All sites have a sheltered picnic table and grill, and there are flush toilets and heated showers available at both campgrounds. I pull into Atlatl Campground around 12:30 pm and snag one with electric. Since we’re traveling with a cat, keeping the A/C going while we’re out exploring is very important with daytime temps this warm.

After a record breaking unhitching time (so much to see, so little time!) Julie and I make a stop in the nearby town of Overton for gas and supplies and then it’s back to the park to do some hiking.


valley-of-fire-state-park-nv8First stop is Mouse’s Tank, a 1.4 mile roundtrip hike through a canyon to a natural rock aquifer that holds rainwater long after the clouds have passed. There’s a story behind the name: Mouse was a northern Paiute outlaw who hid out in the park for a season, surviving on the water from the aquifer while evading local authorities. This trail also one of the best places to see petroglyphs in the park, pictures carved into the dark surfaces of the rock by an ancient nomadic people long since lost to time.

The Fire Wave is the geological feature seen on the front of the park map you get at the pay stations at either entrance, and it came highly recommended by both the campground host and by other bloggers who’ve visited Valley of Fire. The hike is maybe a mile and a half across the desert each way and takes a couple hours, but is beautiful. We went in the evening not long before sundown to get the best lighting, and several others had the same idea so there was some waiting to get good shots, but it was still worth it.

This evening, Julie and I are sitting out in our camp chairs and eating supper while a full moon illuminates the red sandstone cliffs around us. The heat of the day has dropped comfortably into the 70’s, the air is calm. It’s a hard life, but someone has to live it.

The Fire Wave

The Fire Wave

Monday, October 6
We have until noon to vacate our site, so there’s still some time for hiking!

As far as I can recall, I have never seen petrified wood before, and there’s a small loop trail just across the way from the campground that features several logs of petrified wood.


Slot canyon on White Domes hike

They look, well, rather like old wood. It isn’t until you peer closer that the grain doesn’t quite look right for wood. These logs are from an ancient pine forest that got washed down into the valley and then covered by silt and buried. Minerals from an ancient lake slowly turned the wood to stone overtime. Pretty cool stuff.

After that’s done, we drive all the way to the end of the road to do the 1 mile White Dome Trail, which winds through a slot canyon and past some of the most colorful rocks in the park. It takes a long time to hike because it’s hard for me to put down my camera.

Striking colors

Striking colors

I would have been happy to spend more time at Valley of Fire, but we’re due in at Lake Mead tonight. On the way back to the campground to hook up we make one last stop at Atlatl Rock, a short climb up a stairs to more petroglyphs. The rock is cemented into place, otherwise erosion would have took it long ago, and I wonder how many other works of art have been lost to time out here.

Phew! It’s been a lot of walking in the sunshine and in the heat, but no one can say I made poor use of my limited time here! Now it’s time to drive to Lake Mead, catch you all there…

Full moon rising

Full moon rising

* * *
Time to play catchup now that I have internet again! Responses to e-mails and comments will be coming, and posts will be more frequent for the next week or so while I get caught up, and then will resume a more regular pace.

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  1. Ed @ Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets on October 15, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Good day Becky and all! I cannot tell you how many times we have passed Valley of Fire on the way to or from Utah. And we have never stopped there RV-wise, or otherwise. It’s such a beautiful and talked about place. But you DO have to pick the time of the year. And that may have contributed to why we have not checked it out. But we will once we get on the road.
    Ed @ Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets recently posted..Two Wheels Two Feet – In her Own WordsMy Profile

    • Becky on October 15, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      Hope you do Ed, you’ll enjoy it! But yes, not during the summer is probably best. 😉

  2. Caroline near Seattle/LasVegas on October 14, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Great photos! Most tourists who come to LasVegas are here for the Strip and don’t really look for area sights and activities. The Valley of Fire is such an interesting spot. We went one year at Thxgiving and had the place to ourselves.
    Love the West !

    • Becky on October 14, 2014 at 9:49 pm

      Yeah, I have next to no interest in seeing Vegas. I drove through to pick up Julie from the airport and really that was enough for me. I’m not a gambler, and the shows and attractions cost so much money. Give me a quiet park full of the beauty of nature any day. I bet the weather was pretty nice there in Thanksgiving too!

  3. Arlon on October 14, 2014 at 6:31 am

    Spent a day at Valley of Fire on our trip to Las Vegas a few months ago. It was quite a surprise and I’m sure we’ll be back with Casita in tow so we can stay awhile and really explore the park.

    • Becky on October 14, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      I could have spent several days in Valley of Fire and been happy, I fully intend to go back some day and see more of it.

  4. Russ Greene on October 14, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Brings back memories. Valley of Fire was the first destination on my trip. That was last May. It’s such a contrast to where I am now, in Iowa, with cool, wet and windy weather, at a campground that’s empty except for myself.

    Where are you off too now? I’m headed to Kansas City, MO, then Arkansas, I think.

    • Becky on October 14, 2014 at 9:45 pm

      After Valley of Fire I did Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam. More on that next.

      I’ve heard the weather in the midwest hasn’t been great lately, hope you’re staying dry out there!

  5. Pleinguy on October 13, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    It really is a cool park with hot rocks. Enjoyed your report.
    Pleinguy recently posted..ChamaMy Profile

    • Becky on October 14, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      Glad you liked it Plein,

  6. Jodee Gravel on October 13, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    How great to catch that shot at the end of your stint! Good-bye Zion, it sure went by fast from here 🙂 Valley of Fire is on our list for sure and you really captured some of the key sights – the wave looks like swirled soft-serve! Safe travels.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..$100M Flowers, Rebar Forest and a Tiny Carved Ed SullivanMy Profile

    • Becky on October 14, 2014 at 9:43 pm

      Gosh if only it had been soft-serve Jodee! It was hot hot hot out there, ice cream would have been welcome indeed. 😉 Enjoy the park when you get out there.

      I think the summer went fast too, perhaps because I started in June instead of April like last year.

  7. Terri on October 13, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Gorgeous photos, like always. Btw, what is considered record time for you guys to unhitch? And if you were doing it on your own without Julie? (Just curious.) And your talks about the Casita are making me want a fiberglass RV more and more, if I don’t go with something like a Trail Manor or a Hi Lo!
    Terri recently posted..Little Things for Which I am ThankfulMy Profile

    • Reine in Plano on October 14, 2014 at 8:08 am

      Terri, one of the things we love about our Casita is the ability to stop pretty much anywhere while traveling for lunch or bathroom break with no set up required. I don’t think you can do that with either the Trail Manor a Hi Lo. And our record “set up time” is zero one night when it was raining and we found a level pull through site. We pulled in, turned off the ignition on the truck and hurried inside the Casita. Trail Manor or Hi Lo may give you more space but not more convenience for us. Just a thought as you consider what will work best for you.

      • Terri on October 14, 2014 at 8:23 am

        Reine in Plato, thank you very much! I have definitely thought of that – the convenience factor. The reason I am also considering the others are because I have pets, and lots of them, so they would give me more room once opened up. (I plan on having an SUV type of vehicle so that I can put two cats in the far back, two in the middle seat, and one cat and the small dog up front with me (all with barricades, or course, and yes, it’s like Animal Planet, or will be!) May I ask what type of Casita you have and how do you like it?
        Terri recently posted..Little Things for Which I am ThankfulMy Profile

        • Reine in Plano on October 14, 2014 at 10:44 am

          We have a 17′ Freedom Deluxe. That’s the one with the Captain’s Chairs rather than bench seating at the side dinette. Ours is a 2000 that we bought in 2008 so it’s now 14 years old and we love it. We leave the large rear dinette made up as a double bed all the time and use the area underneath it for storage. That restricts the “moving around room” but there are just two of us and no pets and we normally spend a lot of time outside when we’re camping. We don’t full time but usually take 3 or 4 month long trips during the year.

          • Terri on October 14, 2014 at 11:03 am

            I like the way it looks with the Captain’s Chairs! Although, that does take away from storage. Reine in Plato, if you have a blog, I’d love to follow it (don’t want to hijack Becky’s blog with all of my comments and questions, lol.) And if I did have a Casita with two dinettes, I’d do the same thing. My cats would love for the bed to be put out as a bed all day long, trust me. 🙂
            Terri recently posted..Little Things for Which I am ThankfulMy Profile

    • Caroline near Seattle/LasVegas on October 14, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      Terri, have you looked at the fiberglass web site?

      Initally I was interested in the Trail Manor, but when my plans expanded to spending 2 yrs in the RV I didn’t think the TM fit the bill. For one thing there are too many moving parts, plus cracks/ crevices for little critters to get into. And if I remember correctly the toilet is a cassette. I really like the Escape and Casita but I really DISLIKE the wet bathroom. So I’m still looking …. I’ve got 3-4 yrs.
      Another useful site is
      I like to follow people who are travelling with pets … their blogs better suit my needs since I have 2 large dogs.
      Did you see wheelingit’s post on solo female RV ‘rs ?

      • Becky on October 14, 2014 at 9:40 pm


        You’re doing the right thing by researching carefully and taking your time deciding on a RV. Best of luck whichever you end up with. 🙂

      • Terri on October 15, 2014 at 12:15 pm

        Caroline, you are speaking my language. I love the Fiberglass RV website! And the wet bath, I don’t know, I go back and forth on whether I can deal with it or not. ON the one hand, it really lightens the load in the trailer (seems to be the situation in most of the fiberglass ones), and that is a huge priority for me. And yes, I love, RVTrader, you name it, I love them all! I do think I saw her post on solo female RVers, but am going to double check. That’s one of the reasons that Becky’s blog inspires me, she’s doing it, and she’s doing it all on her own.

        Have you checked out this book on kindle? RVing with Pets, by Sunny Skye. I’m sure you must read RV Sue and her Canine Crew, too? 🙂
        Terri recently posted..Little Things for Which I am ThankfulMy Profile

    • Becky on October 14, 2014 at 9:32 pm


      Thanks very much, glad you enjoyed them! Record time for unhitching and setting up (plugging everything in, reading kitchen, de-greasing and putting all hitch pieces away, blocking wheels, getting kitty litter and water out, putting out mat and wheel covers, etc.) was 25 minutes for the both of us, but it wasn’t a race. For me alone it’s probably 40 minutes or so – Julie doesn’t have the routine memorized yet but I also don’t have to worry about a cat when I’m by myself.

      I do love my Casita! But I have to ask, how much space will your cats and dog need? Definitely something you’ll want to give thought to, especially if you’re going to be working full-time hours and will need to leave them locked up inside for a good chunk of the day.

      Edit: In an emergency situation, I could hitch or unhitch in less time than that if I didn’t worry about putting things away carefully and double checking connections etc. But as a rule I don’t try to rush, because that’s when you forget things and one simple mistake could lead to a lot of damage or severe injury so why not take your time?

      • Terri on October 15, 2014 at 12:19 pm

        That is quite impressive, 25 minutes, and especially 40 minutes on your own! But I understand, it’s not a race. That’s all part of why you are living the lifestyle that you are, now. And I think you are smart to take your time and do things right. Much smarter to do that than hurry. I’ve heard it’s a good idea to have a check list written up and put it somewhere you have to see it before you hit the road, to make sure you don’t forget any details.

        And the amount of space, trust me, it’s something I spend a lot of time thinking about. I want each of them to have their own “space” even if it’s “this is my part of the bed, and that’s yours…” The dog takes up hardly any space, since all she wants is a nice place to rest her head when she’s not awake and on my lap or cuddling with me. So it’s really the cats that need the space.

        I just don’t want to go with something huge that is also super heavy because of the size of the tow vehicle it would require. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t want to drive anything any bigger than your truck. I just wouldn’t feel comfortable doing it, even without having something hitched to it.
        Terri recently posted..Little Things for Which I am ThankfulMy Profile

        • Becky on October 15, 2014 at 2:08 pm

          All important things to consider too. Luckily you have some time yet to figure it out. When it starts to get overwhelming, just take a deep breath and let things settle. You’ll get it figured out, I know you will. 🙂

          • Terri on October 16, 2014 at 9:35 am

            Funny, but that’s exactly what I did yesterday. Was starting to get overwhelmed acknowledged it, and turned the computer off and took a nap. I knew it could all wait until I had a clearer head (I’m home sick.) Thank you for the vote of confidence.

            Btw, I just ordered an asus transformer t100 from amazon, so hopefully you, or Julie, or Roger will get to see it go out to me! 🙂 I bought it through your affiliate link, so hopefully you get a small percentage of the sale.
            Terri recently posted..Why I Keep On Keeping On: Life is Just Too ShortMy Profile

          • Becky on October 17, 2014 at 12:50 pm

            Thank you very much for using my link!

            We had a sign up at Zion, it made me giggle: “When all else fails, take a nap.” Good advice sometimes for sure!

  8. Rene Kipp on October 13, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Your photo of The Fire Wave is fabulous! And it was definitely worth the wait…
    Rene Kipp recently posted..Toy Haulers and New FriendsMy Profile

    • Becky on October 14, 2014 at 9:21 pm

      Hard to take a bad photo of the Wave if you arrive during the last hour of sunlight, I have Nina over at Wheeling It to thank for that tip. Glad you enjoyed!

  9. Eric on October 13, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Cool! Check out city of rocks state park if you get a chance

    • Becky on October 14, 2014 at 9:20 pm

      Never heard of this one before and had to look it up on Google. Neat! I plan to explore more of NM some day and I’ll add this to my destination list when I do.

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