Valley of Fire, NV

Author:

Daniel Shyles

Saturday, March 22nd 2014

Our intent was to camp in the film-famous Valley of Fire State Park, about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Whether lucky or unlucky, we arrived in the late afternoon to find the park campgrounds filled to capacity forcing us to turn away to find elsewhere to sleep. In hindsight I think this was for the best, for our alternative was a bit of a paradise of seclusion not often found in a designated campground. The park ranger at Valley of Fire collecting the $10 entry fee instructed us to look northeast to the Overton area where we may find some RV parks (blech...) or other disperesed camping opportunities... We gave a call to the Nevada State Parks information line to see if they had any better leads for free camping in the area, were informed about St. Thomas Point on the north western tip of Lake Mead. We decided we'd check it out, and come back to Valley of Fire in the morning for some exploration.

One option to get from the southern entrance to the Overton area, north of the park was to pay the $10 entry fee to take the road directly through the park... Of course, we decided instead to go around the 45,000 acre park via a western road, which assuredly took longer, but felt a bit more validating. After passing through the desert, though strangely irrigated town of Overton, we entered the Lake Mead Recreational Park, of which St. Thomas Point is a part. The road we traveled quickly became remote and dusty as the terrain reverted back to sand and rock from the pseudo-damp grassy towny feel of Overton. Odd to see a huge lake in the midst of such apparent desolation. The road was soon unpaved, bouncy and better suited for four-wheel drive vehicles, but we pushed our little Honda Fit through and found a beautiful little patch with a good hundred yards between us and the next solitude seekers.


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A sliver of Lake Mead, St Thomas Point


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Our campsite for the evening, solitude with cell service


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Dawgz and corn over the far

We made a quick fire using the surrounding brush. As there wasn't much around in the way of trees, firewood was scarce, with only shambly, dry, quick-to-burn shrubbery. Still we were able to boil some water, and have some soup. We gave a call to our families ("Oh my, I have 3G???"), and got some sleep. The next morning we made a quick, though delicious breakfast of grapefruit, apples and almond butter, campfire-roasted coffee, some fresh shucked coconut, and sweet coconut water. 


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Just some of our decadant desert breakfast



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Is it Halloween yet?

I remember feeling a bit sad to leave our spot in St. Thomas Point. I get to feeling pretty comfortable when we're all alone. Still, we were excited to explore Valley of Fire, of which we had yet only had a glimpse the day before. Valley of Fire is an artifact of the age of the dinosaurs formed by the collection and compaction of iron-oxide-rich sand dunes resulting in today's radiant, red sandstone formations. One location in the park features stone cabins built right into the side of the escarpment in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) for travelers' use during that time. They even come complete with a fireplace. We hiked and climbed around the strange landscape, ducking into pores in the mountain face, and found examples of ancient Anasazi scribblings (pteroglyphs) on the rock walls, more than a thousand years old.


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Cozy Desert Cabins


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Beautiful wind-carved sandstone



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Petroglyphs etched in the black coating



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Who dat?


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A truly alien landscape

 


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Without a doubt, Valley of Fire is a surreal sight that all who venture near should take the pleasure of seeing. When we're there, we can pretend we're in another time, or on another planet... but to realize we're here on Earth today, standing on ages upon ages that will sustain eons after we've passed is a wonderful reminder that we are but one small part of the beautiful story of existence. 

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