In Zion we were like lions… well maybe not really, but we did have a date with some fire in a valley Northeast of Las Vegas. So off we went, hopping on I-15 heading out of Utah, cutting through a sliver of Arizona and then crossing back into Nevada. At Moapa, we took highway 169 to Overton before heading up the grade to our prospective campsite at Sand Mine Rd.
Poverty Flats is a huge flat mesa and a snowbird RV Mecca in the winter. We camped there a few years ago during the warmer months, and it was picturesque and quiet. In January however it was packed, there was even some crazy weird pony ride attraction set up outside of some guys’s RV. However, a single mile down the road, take a quick left hand turn that is lightly signed, leading to an adjacent mesa with far less campers and equally astounding views. We staked our claim overlooking a sizable canyon, had dinner, flew the drone a bit and turned in, excited to show the spawns the hidden gem that is Valley of Fire State Park.
The next day we all piled into the Yukon, Frankie in the wayback and headed towards the state park. Unlike National Parks (goat kickers!), Valley of Fire is pet friendly! We drove in the gate and stopped by the visitor center to grab our pass. Up to that point, while not unimpressive, one would wonder where the park gets its name. Once you leave the visitor center, climb the small steep access road and catch your first glimpse over the rise and it becomes apparent! The landscape changes from the usual desert grey-green and explodes in color. Vibrant reds, stark white, and brilliant orange paint the landscape.
Our first stop was to hike to the Fire Wave, perhaps one of the park’s most popular attractions. We try to do the popular things early, before the crowds arrive, so that we don’t have to stop and have conversations about Frankie every 2 minutes. Although it was January the sunlight was intense and it was starting to heat up. We hoofed it (ya got that right? “Hoofed it”? Get it? …goat joke?) along the trail, following the marker cairns to the wave. It seemed a little less vibrant in the morning sunshine than it was the first time we visited, but it was still a sight to behold.
As more people started to appear on the horizon, we took our leave and headed to the next stop, the White Domes Trail. This trail leads you up a sandy hill and through a large rock cleft before descending down to a narrow slot canyon. After the canyon, you emerge on the backside of the domes and continue the loop around back to the parking lot.
Our final stop at valley of fire was our favorite. Mouse’s Tank. This is a short out and back canyon hike. The canyon is chock full of interesting features, small windblown caves, petroglyphs, and weird rock formations. We all played and explored the features….Frankie in particular loved Mouse’s Tank. On a side note, the canyon gets it’s name due to a Paiute Native American named Little Mouse who hid out in this canyon after he was accused of killing two prospectors in the area, and there was a natural basin feature that held scarce water in the desert that he could drink from.
After the Valley of Fire we took a short trip down the road to Lake Mead and a side trip to Roger’s Spring, a picture perfect oasis in the Nevada desert.
We made a quick side trip into town before heading back to camp in order for Frankie to check out her debut in the print edition of People magazine.
Afterwards we prepared to pull out the next morning towards the Grand Canyon. Little did we know, our plans were about to drastically change!!!