Now that the weather around Las Vegas has become more tolerable it’s the perfect time for camping, so last weekend my boyfriend and I traveled to Valley of Fire to do some hiking and sleep under the stars. Early Saturday morning we loaded the car (dog included) and headed to the park. We would be meeting up with friends later but after hearing that the campground fills up fast this time of year we decided to go early and increase our chance at get a site.
When we arrived at the entry gate around 9 am we saw the “CAMPGROUND FULL” sign immediately. We paid the $8 entry fee ($10 for non-Nevada residents), figuring we would take a look at the campgrounds ourselves, and if they were really full then our weekend trip would become a day trip.
Upon pulling into the first campground, Arch Rock, we quickly saw a few open sites. I almost grabbed the first open spot but we decided to drive further into the campground and see what else was available. I’m glad we did because we ended up finding an awesome site at the top of the hill – secluded, shaded, and right below an amazing rock formation. We saw quite a few open spots in Arch Rock, and the second campground, Atatl Rock, so if you ever see the “Full” sign I’d suggest taking a look yourself as the signs don’t seem to be very current or accurate. The ranger I paid for the campsite ($18 for residents/$20 for non) was very friendly and said they were considering starting to take reservations for some of the sites.
After setting up the campsite we went out for a few short hikes. Valley of Fire has a lot of beautiful scenery to take in but I found the trails to be pretty poorly marked and frustrating to follow. We attempted the Pinnacles loop but got off trail almost immediately and ended up meeting up with the Prospect Trail. Even though it was only in the low 90s my dog, Pebbles, got tired so we headed back to the car pretty quickly, only hiking about 2.2 miles. We decided to do one more short hike near Elephant Rock, where we once again lost the trail. The rock itself is right next to the road and hard to miss, although finding the best trail up to the base of it takes a bit of guesswork.
The rest of the afternoon was spent taking pictures and relaxing until the rest of the group showed up, followed by dinner, Cards Against Humanity, and the obligatory camp fire. The nook in the rock face made the perfect star gazing spot, where the light pollution from Las Vegas was barely noticeable and the stars were bright and clear (I saw the brightest, clearest shooting star of my life!).
Sunday was an early morning as half of the group had to be back in Vegas before noon. Since we had the whole day, we took our time making breakfast and packing up while deciding what to do next. I haven’t made it out to the Fire Wave yet so was hoping to do that, but Pebbles was pretty exhausted and sore and since we couldn’t leave her alone at the site or car we decided to head out and do the Wave another day.
We took the long way back to Las Vegas by leaving the park on the East side and traveling down along Lake Mead. We stopped at two springs along the way, Blue Point Spring and Rogers Spring. Blue Point had a small stream of water and some foliage, while Rogers had an actual pool. I had read that the water temperature is around 90 (making it a “warm” spring rather than hot) and that people do soak in it, but honestly the water was a little smelly and didn’t seem warm at all. While we stood near the pool two Rocky Mountain goats came over the ridge and observed us for a few minutes before moving along.
Rather than satisfying my itch to camp, I think this trip has only intensified it as I’m already planning the next one!