VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK, NEVADA
My sister Barbara moved to Las Vegas last year, giving me a new travel destination. On my visit there in November 2013, we took a trek to Valley of Fire State Park. It is a gorgeous place, lots of red rock canyons and impressive rock formations. While area rocks include shale, limestone and conglomerates, the park’s name comes from the massive red sandstone formations that dominate the area. The “fire” aspect comes from the glow said to bounce off the formations when the sun is just right during sunrise and sunset. I need to plan another trip and make sure I visit at those times. But no matter what time of day, the place is remarkable.
Details about Valley of Fire State Park further demonstrate how impressive the area is—and has been for years and years:
- Part of the Mojave Desert
- Covers an area of nearly 42,000 acres
- Rock formations indicate the area is 150 million years old
- Believed to have been occupied from 300 BC to 1150 AD
- Home to petroglyphs from about 3,000 years ago
- Some petrified logs have lodged in the area from a long ago storm or flash flood
- The area is relatively temperate with mild winters, about 4 inches of annual rainfall and a (deceptive) average temperature of 75 degrees
There is even a formation named Elephant Rock. How great is that? Can you see the quiet giant in the rocks?
Dedicated in 1935, Valley of Fire is the oldest state park in Nevada. It was named a National Landmark in 1968. There is an informative visitor’s center and a range of hiking trails. I especially love any chance to see petroglyphs up close; they are such a reminder of those who lived and loved and hunted in this area long ago. Their stamina and courage are always a good reminder that our lives—by comparison—are never that bad. These petroglyphs are in a natural basin named Mouse’s Tank after a renegade in the 1890’s who used the basin as a hideout.
If you ever get to Las Vegas, forgo the casinos and visit this magnificent state park. It is easy to reach, being only 55 miles from the city and 6 miles from Lake Mead. You will not be disappointed. In fact, you may have seen parts of Valley of Fire without realizing it. Many car companies have used the locale as a setting for their car commercials. The television show Airwolf (1984-1987) used Valley of Fire as the secret hiding place for the show’s super helicopter; the show just called the area Valley of God. Some of the movies that were shot at this state park include The Professionals (1966) with Burt Lancaster, an odd sci-fi film Cherry 2000 (1987) with Melanie Griffith, the Mars scenes from Total Recall (1990) with Arnold Schwarzenegger, a scene from Tranformers (2007) with Shia LeBeouf., and the scene of an RV crash in Domino (2005) with Keira Knightley. Of course, my favorite is its use in Star Trek Generations (1994) when Picard and Kirk head to Veridian III to stop Soran. In Kirk’s death scene, there are some fleeting vistas of Valley of Fire.
What places in Nature do you like to visit?
What thoughts about life come to mind when you are experiencing Nature, enjoying its beauty and silence?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die the world cries and you rejoice.” White Elk
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” Chief Seattle, 1854
“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Crowfoot, Blackfoot Warrior & Orator
“And while I stood there, I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of things in the spirit and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.” Black Elk
“O Great Spirit, help me always to speak the truth quietly, to listen with an open mind when others speak, and to remember the peace that may be found in silence.” Cherokee Prayer
“I do not think the measure of a civilization is how tall its building of concrete are, but rather how well its people have learned to relate to their environment and fellow man.” Sun Bear, Chippewa
“There is a road in the hearts of all of us, hidden and seldom traveled, which leads to an unknown secret place. The old people come literally to love the soil, and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power. Their teepees were built upon the earth and their altars were made of earth. The soul was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing. That is why the old Indian still sits upon the earth instead of propping himself up and away from its life giving forces. For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply and to feel more keenly. He can see more clearly the mysteries of life and come closer in kinship to other lives about him.” Chief Luther Standing Bear