Skip to content

Day Trip from Las Vegas: Valley of Fire State Park

March 11, 2018
6 min read
Day Trip from Las Vegas: Valley of Fire State Park
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

We realized a long time ago that we were not likely to get rich in Las Vegas via our play on quarter slot machines, dollar video poker or the occasional $5 blackjack hand. We have learned, however, that during our visits to Sin City, we can enrich ourselves and expand our experiences by occasionally Leaving Las Vegas and hitting the road for day trips to nearby sights and attractions.

Las Vegas day trip to the Valley of Fire State Park

There are a number of great treasures found within a couple of hours of Sin City's city limits. They offer extreme variety in elevation, environment, and temperature. From the 12,000 ft. Mt. Charleston to the minus 282 ft below sea level Badwater Basin, an array of geologic and geographic adventures await your beck and call. We have chronicled some of these excursions on this site, and if you find yourself wanting a manageable day trip from Las Vegas, allow me to recommend the Valley of Fire State Park, located about 50 miles east of Vegas.

Hike just a half a mile to a captivating fire wave

We decide to make a repeat visit to this state park on a recent trip to Las Vegas because we always enjoy our time there, and we wanted to witness it on the cool and beautiful February day we were presented with on this journey.

After a few hours of getting reacquainted with some old and familiar visual friends, we decided to drive down the main park road a few more miles before turning around to head toward the park's exit. We pulled into a parking area that we had used before and got out to read the informational signs describing the nearby highlights this parking area gave access to. The signs refreshed our memory banks of a short hike we had taken a few years back, and because lunch was already overdue, we opted to not go down that path again. As we were returning to the car, we noticed a few people emerging from a trail on the opposite side of the road. A sign, that we had not noticed before, read Fire Wave .6 miles ahead. A photo depicting the attraction was present and it lured us in as quick as a thermometer rises here in the summer.

We followed the trail that was etched in the sand and marked by the footprints of others. Occasionally, a sign or a small stack of rocks would direct us when the obvious became less so and when the trail sort of melted into the open expanse. Within 15 minutes, we came to an area that was a distant cousin of the photo we had seen. We thought that perhaps this was our destination and that we just needed to view it from a different angle or something. While trying to answer the eternal and universal question of "are we there, yet", we noticed a couple of hikers about 100 yards ahead who were convinced that they were not there yet.

We mutually concurred that the best was yet to come, and we headed out in the direction of the others. The sandy surface soon was replaced by solid rock that offered a steady but gentle climb toward its defined but subtle crest. As we walked, we noticed that parallel and multi-hued veins, that were either straight or rolling depending on the topography, appeared on the smooth rock top. It was as though they were leading us to The Fire Wave, and they did.

The Fire Wave is just as advertised. It dips and curls and rises and falls, like a wave.

Its color can be like the red in a flame, depending on the time of day and the position of the sun. We have been fortunate enough to hike to The Wave on the Arizona/Utah border, and this is a mini version of that major league bucket list item. And, unlike The Wave, this smaller version is much more accessible for those interested. No winning the lottery required, no 6-mile hike, no hiring a guide, etc.

We were excited to see this Fire Wave. Thrilled, in fact. We bounced around taking photos trying to best capture its movements and color. We posed in it and with it. We sat on it and felt it.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

We saw it and looked at it. We studied it and appreciated it. This unique geologic occurrence conjured up thoughts of swirly marble chocolate icing and cakes of multi-layers. It was delicious to experience it. And, then it reminded us that we had not yet eaten lunch.

We lingered a few more minutes before we turned our back on this graceful sculpture of the earth's surface. Our short jaunt back to the car seemed much shorter than the walk in since I guess a walk to the known is quicker than the walk to the unknown.

We were so glad that we went the extra mile (well, 1.2 miles in total), to explore the Fire Wave. The temperature was only about 70 degrees the day we visited, but it felt much warmer. Shade is a rare commodity in these parts, and bringing in your own water is a must. In the summer, this hike, though relatively short, is probably best suited for the early morning. We have seen temps of near 120 in this park so some discretion and planning is advised.

This Nevada State Park, The Valley of Fire, is well worth the journey down I-15 for a memorable day trip from Las Vegas. Unique rock formations, petroglyphs, dazzling geologic colors and endless vistas are all made accessible by good roads that wind up and down around and through the park's heart and soul.

The Valley of Fire is a hot property, in more ways than one, and a great way to burn off some steam before heading back to the nonstop excitement that is Las Vegas.

Do you have a favorite Las Vegas day trip?

TPG featured card

Best luxury travel rewards card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

5X points
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 Points
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best luxury travel rewards card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 80,000 Points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees