I drive by the Valley of Fire State Park I-15 exit every time I’m going from California to Utah or vice versa and never realized what an amazing place it is. Sure, you can see red rock just about anywhere, but the variety in the rock formations here is pretty amazing.
As you drive into the park, you’ll see plenty of barren red landscape:
Venture past the visitor center and down Mouse’s Tank Road, however, and the rocks start to change color. There are two trails in particular that offer some great, colorful views. The first stop is the Fire Wave Trail, which is comparable to the permit-only “The Wave” in Arizona. Of course, everyone who’s been to The Wave says that one’s more impressive, but the final view of the Fire Wave here is no slouch:
At the end of Mouse’s Tank Road is another trail called the White Domes Trail. The beginning of this trail is a little steep, but afterwards it’s an easy loop that takes you through some amazing and ever-changing scenery, including a brief walk through a slot canyon.
The end of the Fire Wave Trail is perhaps more iconic, but the White Domes Trail wins overall just for how diverse it is. To get the most out of it, though, make sure you stop and take a closer look at the rocks along the way. Many of them have interesting colors, layers, textures, and patterns in them:
There are other trails and scenic spots in the park, too, so if you have more than a few hours to spare (unlike me), you could probably spend an entire day here.