So, it’s the day before we leave on our much anticipated Western River Expedition Grand Canyon river rafting trip. We’d flown into Vegas from Sacramento on an early morning flight, arriving at 0730 – we’ve got the whole day to blow! Neither of us are big fans of smoky casinos or watching drunk bachelorettes stagger down the strip so what should we do? What other options are there near Vegas? Well, it turns out, quite a few!
First stop, rental car desk. We had a bit of an issue with my credit card name not matching my driver’s license (little details, right?), but once that was all straightened out, we headed out in our economy Kia Sol, which we fondly dubbed ‘the Grey Booger.’ She is no frills but definitely adequate for today’s adventuring. Temps are already in the 80s and climbing with a forcasted excessive heat warning of 106 degrees. First stop, Smith’s grocery to stock up on some snacks for the day. Definitely DO stop for provisions before heading out to any of Vegas’ local state parks, facilities are very limited and the terrain is incredibly unforgiving.
Back on the road, heading to Valley of Fire State Park. By the time we arrived at the park around 1030am, paid our $10 entry fee, we noted that temps were well into the 90s already. We knew the season wasn’t ideal for hiking, but we brought plenty of water for the two short hikes we’d hoped to do. One of Valley of Fire’s claims to fame is the Fire Wave Hike. This trek is a lightly trafficked 1.5 mile round trip path to some unique rock formations that reminise of the famous ‘Wave’ trail in Arizona, only a lot more accessible, and no permit required. Sounded great to us! We set off……
Pretty epic, right? Back at the car, we poured ourselves back into the Grey Booger, cranked the a/c up full blast, and promptly downed about a gallon of water each. Successful first hike! Where to next?
The second hike we really wanted to experience was Mouse’s Tank. This is a great little hike along a mostly flat, sandy path that leads you through a petroglyph canyon. This path was named after an outlaw nicknamed ‘Mouse’ who apparently used to hide from the authorities in this canyon. We looked for him but alas, only sweaty, underprepared, wilting tourists to be found. Walking down the path is tricky because the sand is hot and squashy, but the views were our rewards!
Two thumbs way up for Valley of Fire State Park! We would love to come back and explore in more details during a more forgiving time of the year. If you are near Las Vegas and want a break from the glitz and smoke of the Strip, head on out for a healthy dose of Nevada’s beautiful desert. You will not be disappointed.
So, it’s about 1pm and we’ve still got a lot of our day left to spend. Where to next? Let’s check out Lake Mead and Hoover Dam! Stay tuned ….