Finding Petroglyphs in Valley of Fire State Park

After reading about Valley of Fire on Alex in Wanderland and knowing I was going to Vegas in September, I figured why not make a stop there since I’ll be in the area.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, well hot, but that’s about it.  I knew about the Fire Wave, which is supposed to be TOTALLY WICKED, and Pastel Canyon, which looks SUPER COOL on Google, and that was it.


But, I won’t be talking about either of those in here.  This is all about petroglyphs in Petroglyph Canyon.  After the visitors center, this is one of the first trails you come to.  We had the time and hadn’t seen petroglyphs up close yet so we stopped.  Even after being in the desert for so long, this seemed so different from what I was used to.  It just felt different.  Hotter, maybe.  Whatever it was, I enjoyed it.


The trail isn’t terribly long, but the sand is incredibly hot.  I would plan for maybe an hour or a little more to explore around the area.  Wear tennis shoes if you can, at least during the hottest part of the day, which gets really hot here.  Along the whole trail there are petroglyphs on tons of rocks.  Some walls are totally covered and some just have a few.


Either way, they’re pretty cool to see.  Petroglyphs, so far, feel like one of those things you can’t get sick of, but I’m sure like all things, cough cough temples and ruins, it’s possible.  I enjoyed this trail.  It was a little busy, but it’s still worth the stop.  I think this was actually my favorite part of the park, even over the highly talked up fire wave.

UPDATE 2020: I never get sick of seeing rock art.  I love petroglyphs.  I love pictograps.  I love ruins.  I will always want to see them all.  This makes me want to go back to Central America to see the ruins there.


Helpful things:

  • Bring lots of water or buy some at the Visitors Center.  We ended up going back for more after this hike.
  • Don’t wear sandals if it’s towards the middle of the day.  The sand gets soooo hot.  I wore sandals and then tried barefoot before I realized how hot it was.
  • Towards the end, just before the arched cairn, climb around a little bit.  There were a few areas where we veered off the trail a bit.
  • It’s just an hour outside of Vegas, the perfect day trip or stop on your way to or from the city.


Have you been to Valley of Fire State Park?  Did you hike Petroglyph Canyon?  What did you think of it?  Do you want to go?

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