Valley Of Fire State Park

After spending the previous day golfing and gambling in Las Vegas, Nevada, I hooked up again with Dinah Kruze and Bob Spirko for a hike on 17 October 2013.  Although the end of the recent US government shutdown meant that we could visit any of the nearby national parks, we had already made plans to visit Valley of Fire State Park.  Bob had planned out a couple of short loops for us to hike, and we spent a leisurely day wandering about and photographing some of the park's unique rock formations.  Although we had no plans to bag any peaks in the area, we ended up scrambling up a few minor summits anyway.  I cannot overstate how much I enjoyed this outing.  The wonderful weather, amazing scenery, and fantastic company all contributed to a thoroughly satisfying trip.

Be sure to check out Bob's trip report here.
You could spend all day just scrambling among the rocks here. Dinah and Bob head for the visitor centre at Valley of Fire State Park.
Don't even have to get your boots dirty to see this! Right beside the road is Striped Rock.
Can't get lost in this canyon! Bob and Dinah hike through a short canyon.
Go right. Bob and Dinah try to figure out which way to go next as the terrain opens up.
All of sudden, I feel like having ice cream... Some swirling colours in the sandstone hint at things to come.
Looks almost like a skateboard park here! Valley of Fire State Park lives up to its colourful reputation.

Catch a wave and you're sitting on top of the world!

Bob and Dinah stand on the Fire Wave.

Sunset is probably the best time to photograph the Fire Wave. Here is another perspective of the Fire Wave.
Gibraltar Rock apparently is a scramble. Gibraltar Rock rises up prominently behind the Fire Wave.

Wanna eat me?

A side-blotched lizard pokes about the rocks near the Fire Wave.

This was a very tough plant to identify! The sandpaper bush (Mortonia utahensis) has unusual leaves.
We weren't even looking to climb any peaks on this day! Several of the summits that are visible here would later be climbed by Bob and Dinah or Sonny.
Maybe fossilized pellets?? These unusual pieces of sandstone resemble animal pellets.
Watch out, Bob! The chunk that broke off near the top looks ready to come crashing down. Bob stands below what would turn out to be the higher of double white summits.
I love the transition of colour in this photo! Bob and Dinah survey the route ahead.  They would eventually climb onto the plateau on the left.
Or fruitcake or feces... Some of the rocks look like granola bars.
We eventually had to come back down this way. Bob watches Dinah climb up a Class 3 gully.
The scrambling is easy and delightful. The double white summits are begging to be climbed.  The elevation of the higher summit is about 620 metres.
From this perspective, Crazy Hill actually looks flat! Dinah stands on the lower of the double white summits with the rather underwhelming Crazy Hill below her to the right.
Can you spot the Winnebago? Bob and Dinah backtrack to the Class 3 gully.
I already had ideas about climbing it at this point. At left is the eastern and highest peak of the White Domes.
It was a lot smaller than I was expecting... Bob peers through the Fire Cave.
WTF? Dinah expresses herself beside Thunderstorm Arch.
Dinah is still expressing herself... Dinah stands below the impressive east face of the eastern peak of the White Domes.
Giant lava lamps? The tower on the right is a pinnacle while the one on the left is actually a buttress (see next photograph).
I estimate their summit elevation to be about 645 metres. Bob and Dinah stand atop an unnamed summit just northeast of the White Domes.  The buttress from the previous photograph is visible in the foreground.

At the time, I didn't even realize this was the high point of the White Domes.

Sonny checks his cerebellum on the summit of the eastern peak (684 metres) of the White Domes.

The protagonists from "The Professionals" (see next photo caption) used this spot to scout out the bandit camp. The class 4 gully with a tree protruding from it provides access to the top of the eastern peak.  A few stemming and mantling moves are required to get up the gully.
The movie also shot some scenes in Death Valley NP. Bob and Dinah check out the remains of a movie set with the White Domes in the background.

The movie that was filmed here was "The Professionals" starring Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin.  Other notable actors in the 1966 movie included Robert Ryan, Woody Strode, Jack Palance and Ralph Bellamy.  Interestingly, Claudia Cardinale, the only actress with top billing in the movie, is also, to date, the only surviving member of the main cast.

In the movie, this wall was part of the protagonists' makeshift campsite.  A graveyard was also nearby.

What was that crack about me trying to squeeze through here, Dinah?! Bob and Dinah negotiate a tight and twisty canyon.
Amazingly straight lines! Bob passes a checkered wall along the Kaolin Wash.