The Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada may look old and obscure, but that's just on the surface. The deeper you explore, the better you realize the layered beauty of this auburn landscape. An hour's drive from the Las Vegas Strip takes you to this world of red sandstone formations, fiery colors, elephant-shaped rock, and multi-colored ridges. Overnight camping in one of the largest parks in the US and watching a desert marigold in springtime are equally stimulating as encountering the ancient rock art.

Valley of Fire

The layered beauty of Valley of Fire, Nevada

Here is a list of things that every traveler looks forward to doing while they are in the Valley of Fire:

#1. Exploring Rock Formation & Rock Art

The large swathes of land in this Valley are dominated by red sandstone formations. Shales and limestone formations add diversity to the Valley that has a burnt orange look. Besides, fine specimen of ancient rock art is strewn all over the place. Native American sketches could be seen at Atlatl Rock, Elephant Rock, Mouse's Tank, Rainbow Vista, and Seven Sisters.

#2. Watching Wildlife

Both the resident and migratory birds cross your path during a trip to the Valley. An avid birdwatcher would surely fall for the roadrunner and sage sparrow. In fact, spotting a coyote, kit fox, or a black-tailed jackrabbit is also common. With little bit of luck by your side, you can spot a rare desert tortoise, as well.

#3. Camping and Picnicking

Overnight camping in any of the two campgrounds of the Valley of Fire is a one-off experience. The best time to enjoy camping is the fall because that's when you can sit beside a bonfire under a starlit sky with a slight nip in the air. When it comes to picnicking, the Valley has several shaded areas with restrooms ideal for day-long fun.

#4. Rock Climbing and Hiking

Intriguing hiking trails take you to some of the famed destinations within the Valley including Atlatl Rock, Mouse’s Tank, and White Domes. Rock climbing is also allowed in some areas in the park. And if you are tempted to enjoy swimming at Roger Springs, don't resist it.

#5. Wedding

Exchanging vows with red sandstone structures as the backdrop is quite an experience. Unlike the lavish Las Vegas weddings, the ones hosted in the Valley of Fire State Park are popular for their scenic setting. The Seven Sisters and Rainbow Vista are among the four locations in the Valley that host such memorable weddings.

#6. Exploring the Points of Interest

While Arch Rock is a fragile formation with a natural arch and an excellent setting for a shutterbug, the Rainbow Vista on top of a low ridge is where travelers go to get a sweeping view of this natural wonder. Caves and cliffs of contrasting colors are the signature attraction at White Domes and the tall red boulders in Seven Sisters are strikingly different from the desert landscape.

Related: Redwood National & State Parks | Carlsbad Caverns National Park | Channel Islands National Park

Image Credit: Clement Bardot

Published On: Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015