“Welcome to Vegas, baby!” is a phrase that will either fill you with fear or excitement. Vegas isn’t for everyone but one thing I am fast discovering is that a visit to Vegas does not mean you have to stay up until 4 in the morning sipping on overprices drinks and bopping along to EDM. The best thing about Las Vegas, it seems, is that it is the perfect base for exploring the spectacular landscapes of the State and National parks within a stones throw of Sin City. Yesterday Allison and I set off to the Valley of Fire State Park on a Pink Jeep Tour and I’m still a little bit in shock at how much fun we had.
When this massive, hot pink jeep pulled up out side our hotel (we’re staying at the W Hotel, in case you’re curious) I could do nothing but laugh. Only Las Vegas would have adventure tours in a hot pink jeep!!
We set off on our hour long drive into the desert, with our hilarious guide (Dennis The Menace, is how he introduced himself) telling us tidbits about the history of Las Vegas, the surrounding desert, the various plants and animals to be found and of course all about Valley of Fire and how it was formed.
Our first glimpse of the park rendered Allison and I speechless. Looking out over the vast expanse of deep red rock, it was now obvious where the name of the park came from!
As we drove further into the Valley of Fire, the landscape was even more dramatic and my poor camera was clicked like never before. From rainbow-like swirls on the rocks caused by water and flash flooding, to boulders miraculously balancing on top of each other there was always something interesting to look at.
Our guide kept telling us to use our imagination and to tell him what shapes or images we could see in all the unusual rock faces. While the elephant is one of the most famous rock formations out there, I definitely saw a rock that looked like The Sphinx in Egypt…see photo below.
We had lots of time for photos, a few short hikes to get a better view of the park below and a delicious packed lunch to keep hunger at bay as I ran up and down rock formations, blown away by the changing scenery around every corner.
I was to be seen running and jumping around excitedly at every stop and our guide even commented that I was the best climber he had seen on any of his tours. Guess I may have been a teeny tiny bit overexcited at the prospect of so many great Instagram photos!!
One of the most unbelievable facts about the Valley of Fire that I learned was that it was actually the floor of an ocean about 100 million years ago! I loved exploring the small caves formed by strong winds, carving the shape of the rock for thousands (okay, millions!) of years, and checking out some of the cool rock art left behind by American Indians that first occupied this site. Some of the art, according to a recent documentary, is supposed to represent ancient aliens and space ships. I’ll let you decide for yourselves what you make of that!
The deep red rock was such a startling contrast to the vast and flat desert and grey hills at the other side of the valley – it certainly made for some dramatic photographs. There are lots of great picnic and designated photos spots, as well as lots of great hikes (many of which I didn’t have time to do on the day tour.) It’s worth stopping off at the visitor centre for a break – they have gifts, water, snacks and lots of maps and information about the flora and fauna to be found in the park.
The trip started at 9am and we were back in Vegas by 3pm, just in time to relax by the pool and treat my weary muscles to some R&R. A full day Pink Jeep Tour from Vegas to the Valley of Fire costs $169 per person and includes as many bottles of water as you can drink (4 in my case!) and a packed lunch. One of the most fun day trips I’ve ever taken. DO IT!
WHERE TO NEXT?
Check out Dinosaurland Park in Utah, a fun park for kids and adults alike and an amazing destination for summer camping.
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While I was a guest on the Pink Jeep Tour to Valley of Fire, I can honestly say it was one of the best day tours I’ve ever taken and would HIGHLY recommend it to any friends, family or readers visiting.
Hi! I’m Janet Newenham, an Irish-born digital nomad and blogger. My blog, Journalist On The Run, is a journal of my travels and career hurdles, as well as a “bucket list for life.” In my youth, reading inspired me to create and achieve goals for my future.
My long list of goals took me to places I could never have dreamed of, each one inspiring me toward the next. Along the way, I picked up a few awards like “Digital Media Travel Journalist Of The Year” in both 2017 and 2019 while simply doing what I love.
Now, well into my 30s, I’ve seen so many of the world’s alcoves that it would be wrong not to share my experiences with you. This blog is my way of taking you around the world with me, and I hope you enjoy the ride.
My goal was to visit 50 countries before I hit 30. I never imagined that at 37, I could proudly say I’ve seen 101 of the world’s beautiful countries. Of course, no matter how much you think you’ve traveled, there is still so much left to see, and I look forward to going on the run with you.
Monday 15th of May 2017
I remember Las Vegas being in the centre of a whole load of national parks. We only drove through the city but you are right it would make for a good base. You can make Las Vegas what you want it to be
Sunday 14th of May 2017
I haven't even heard of this place before, and I live like 4 hours away, lol. Looks beautiful!
Sunday 14th of May 2017
Awesome pictures! I loved Valley of Fire when I went, the terrain is so beautiful and unique.