The Valley of Fire State Park is located in Moapa Valley, accessible via Interstate 15 or North Shore Road.
HISTORY: The Valley of Fire State Park is Nevada’s oldest, and largest, State Park. It was dedicated in 1935 and covers 34,880 acres. Why is it named the Valley of Fire? Once you see it, or see photos, you’ll have your answer! The Red Sandstone Formations were created during the age of dinosaurs, 150 million years ago, from sand dunes that shifted. This shifting, along with lots of erosion combined with uplifting and faults, created the uniquely shaped formations that make up the Valley of Fire State Park. Many of the rock formations also include limestone, shale, and conglomerates. When the sun is reflecting at the right angle, the formations appear to be on fire!
OCCUPATION: It is estimated that the park was used by people from about 300 B.C. to about 1150 A.D, first by the Basket Maker People and later by the Anasazi Pueblo Farmers who lived in the nearby Moapa Valley, a fertile land because of the existence of the Muddy River. It is assumed that the visits were for food gathering, hunting, and religious ceremonies. It is doubtful that any of these early people lived for any length of time in the Valley of Fire, because of the lack of water. They definitely stayed long enough to leave behind awesome petroglyphs, the rock art on the canyon walls. These drawings are visible at several locations within the park, keep reading to find the best places to view them. It is VERY important to NOT touch the petroglyphs, as even the small amount of oils from your hand can be incredibly damaging.
CLIMATE: The best times to visit the Valley of Fire?? ANYTIME!! Seriously, although the summer daily highs can exceed 100 degrees (120 even!), if you visit early in the morning before the sun gets too high, it’s not unbearable. The middle of the day? Go to Lake Mead during the hottest part! Spring and Fall are great, with comfortable temperatures during the day ranging from 70-85 degrees, depending on when you visit. Click here to get detailed information on the Average Temperatures by Month for the Valley of Fire State Park from weather.com.
PLANTS AND ANIMALS: The desert plant life in the area is abundant, with creosote bush, burro bush, and brillte bush. The variety of cactus species include beaver tail and cholla make for great pictures, especially when the flowering begins in the spring. The roads in the spring are awash with color from the Desert Marigolds, Indigo Bush and Desert Mallow.
Although there are plenty of animals in the Valley of Fire, many are nocturnal and not seen by the majority of visitors. Be on the lookout for many different kinds of lizards and snakes; and if you’re really lucky, you might spy Big Horn Sheep, Coyotes, Kit Foxes, Spotted Skunks, Black Tailed Jack Rabbits, and Antelope Ground Squirrels. Resident birds include the raven, house finch, sage sparrow, and roadrunner. Many migrant birds also pass through the park.
If you’re EXTREMELY lucky, you might see a Desert Tortoise. If you do, take care not to disturb it in any way: don’t try to touch it or get close to it.Why? I got this information from desertmuseum.org: “Unlike us, a desert tortoise can reabsorb moisture from its bladder; in effect, it carries a built-in canteen. If you pick up a wild tortoise, the frightened reptile is likely to dump its water supply–a minor nuisance for you, but a major problem for the tortoise, which in a severe drought could die before the next rainstorm allows it to refill!”
VISITING THE PARK
Visitor’s Center: The visitor center provides exhibits on the geology, ecology, prehistory, and history of the park and the nearby region. It is strongly recommended that each visitor make this an early stop after entering the park. Postcards, books, and film are on sale for your convenience. Open daily, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There is a brand new Gift Store inside the Visitor’s Center that just opened in November 2011, so be sure to check out the new items!
Camping:. All campsites are first come, first serve. There are two campgrounds with a combined total of 73 units. Campsites are equipped with shaded tables, grills, water, and restrooms. A dump station and showers are available.
RV Camping: RV Sites are available that provide power and water hookups. There is an additional fee of $10 per night for the hookups.
Picnic Sites: There are picnic areas with shade and restroom located at Atlatl Rock, the Cabins, Seven Sisters, White Dome, and near Mouse’s Tank Trail Head.
Group Sites: Group areas that accommodate up to 45 people are available by reservation only, for day and overnight use.For information call Valley of Fire State Park (702) 397-2088. Additional Fees apply.
Read the full article on the Valley of Fire State Park, including more details, fee information and photos.
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