Valley Of Fire State Park
On 1 January 2020, Zosia Zgolak and I visited Nevada's Valley of Fire State Park.  This was my third (and Zosia's first) visit to the park, and we spent most of the day hiking in the core area where the most popular attractions are located.  We started the day with a long loop hike which included visits to the Fire Wave, Pastel (Pink) Canyon, Kaolin Wash/Slot Canyon and White Domes Slot Canyon.  I had already visited a few of these places previously, but I enjoyed them just as much the second time around.
There's a scramble route up Gibraltar Rock, but it's not from this side. Zosia hikes past the south end of Gibraltar Rock.

We were lucky to have the Fire Wave all to ourselves for a short period of time.

Zosia arrives at the Fire Wave with Gibraltar Rock in the background.


Looks like orange swirl ice cream! Mmmmm! Sonny stands on one of the rock outcrops at the Fire Wave.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Hordes of tourists would arrive soon after this photo was taken!

Sonny and Zosia coordinate their poses at the Fire Wave.


Orange you glad you came here? Zosia walks through Pastel (Pink) Canyon.
I like the stripes! The walls of Pastel Canyon are not high, but they are nevertheless interesting.
I have a similar photo of Bob Spirko in this same spot! Sonny walks past a checkerboard pattern on a wall along Kaolin Wash.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

So am I! Zosia is delighted to pass through Kaolin Slot Canyon.
Just monkeying around! Zosia is acting anything but professional as she hangs off a wooden beam from one of the set pieces used in the 1966 movie, "The Professionals".  The White Domes are visible in the background.
This was my first time walking through here. Zosia enters White Domes Slot Canyon.
You could spend all day scrambling here. Just a little off White Domes Trail, the transition from yellow to red rocks in the landscape is abrupt.
In case it rains! Zosia climbs into a shallow cave beside White Domes Trail.
More fun than an amusement park! This short tunnel is another interesting feature located on the side of White Domes Trail.
Rabbit ears. Zosia passes below an impressive buttress and pinnacle while hiking from White Domes day use area to the Fire Wave trailhead.
We may have to amputate! Zosia appears to be tangled in the rocks at the Fire Cave.
After taking a break for lunch, Zosia and I hiked the busy Rainbow Vista Trail which ultimately leads to an overlook of Fire Canyon.  The best part about this hike was when we left the official trail early on and detoured into a semi-secluded area with many rock outcrops which can be easily scrambled.  From the tops of the outcrops, the views of Silica Dome and the surrounding landscape were mind-blowing, and we even spotted a lone sheep here.  Surprisingly, nobody else was in this remarkably scenic area despite its close proximity to the trail and Fire Canyon Road just to the north.  We eventually returned to the trail to resume our hike to the overlook, but compared to our impromptu detour, the views of Fire Canyon were a bit anticlimactic.
It's amazing how quickly we left the crowds behind just by going off-trail. Zosia hikes the Rainbow Vista Trail, but she would soon veer off and scramble up the rocks at far left.
Wow. Were we ever lucky to spot this sheep! After going off-trail and leaving the crowds behind, Zosia spots a lone sheep resting nearby.
Uh, that would be us! The sheep is alerted to the presence of hikers nearby.

Wow. Just wow!

The landscape surrounding Silica Dome is very colourful.


Good impression of a weather vane! Zosia poses atop a nearby rock outcrop.
So close to the road...and yet, there's nobody else here! Sonny stands on top of another rock outcrop in the area.  Behind the rocks is Fire Canyon Road.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Best view of the day. Near Silica Dome, the transition from yellow to red rocks is very striking.
Happy New Year! Zosia and Sonny pose together in front of Silica Dome.
Ho hum...more red rocks. The Rainbow Vista Trail ends at this overlook above Fire Canyon.
Our third hike of the day was on the Mouse's Tank Trail which leads to a bathtub-sized basin filled with water.  More intriguing than the basin are the numerous petroglyphs on the walls along the trail.  Zosia and I did not even notice these until our hike out when we saw other hikers studying the petroglyphs up close.
It's barely big enough for a mouse! At the end of Mouse's Tank Trail is this rather underwhelming pool of water.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

More interesting than the "tank" itself! Zosia has some fun scrambling on the rocks above Mouse's Tank.
We didn't even notice these on the way in! On the way back to the trailhead, Zosia checks out some petroglyphs on one of the walls along Mouse's Tank Trail.
Leaving the core area late in the afternoon, Zosia and I made brief stops at Seven Sisters day-use area and Elephant Rock near the east entrance of the park.  The interesting terrain surrounding Elephant Rock invites further exploration, but with daylight waning and the area teeming with tourists, we decided to call it a day and head out of the park.  It was nevertheless a wonderful visit and a great start to the New Year for us, and I am certain that we will return in the future to explore more of Valley of Fire State Park.
Perhaps one of the sisters? At Seven Sisters day-use area, one of the rocks there resembles a person's head.
There was a woman sitting behind the "trunk" when I took this photograph. Elephant Rock is near the east entrance of Valley of Fire State Park.
Looks more like a rusted hunk of old machinery! Here is a more comprehensive view of Elephant Rock.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

A great first day of the New Year!

Shadows creep across the eastern end of Valley of Fire State Park at the end of the day.  On the horizon at right is Virgin Peak.