Hike To The Fire Wave And Pastel Canyon In Valley of Fire State Park

The two things I wanted to see in Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada on our way to Vegas were the Fire Wave and Pastel Canyon.  The Fire Wave is rumored to be super cool, almost rivaling, and not to be confused with, The Wave in Arizona.  More on that later.  And Pastel Canyon is supposed to look a little bit like Easter threw up all over it.  It’s safe to say my expectations were high after taking a gander at good old Google images.


I don’t want to ruin anyone’s experience here, but I want to keep things real here.  I was let down by both.  I’ll start with Pastel Canyon, the thing I REALLY wanted to see.  I asked at the visitors center and was told it was by dip 5 (or parking number 3.)  Alright, to dip 5 we go!  We parked Meredith (my adorable little car) and set off into what we assumed was Pastel Canyon.  It’s just sort of a crack that looks like the start of a slot canyon that goes on getting a little deeper, but nothing like Antelope Canyon in Arizona, arguably the most popular slot canyon ever.


After following this for a bit, among rocks that were slightly tinged pink, orange, and yellow, we climbed up out of it and started wandering around on top of the rock.  I will admit there are some pretty cool sections on the ground here with some fairly bold colors, but nothing like I was imagining, which isn’t actually all that surprising.  And to be fair, it was pastel, so it did live up to its name.  It’s called Pastel Canyon for a reason.  I thought it was cooler outside of the slot canyon section.


Once we were up there, I went a little further up and along and could see people over a little further.  SPOILER ALERT: this is the Fire Wave.  It would have been way easier to get there from where I was and would have involved a lot less walking in the heat.  However, we didn’t go this way as we didn’t know what it was and didn’t want to make ourselves walk even more.  Ha.  Good one, right?  That meant we turned around before making it to the Fire Wave.  It was cool getting to see the Fire Wave trail, but we were practically already there and just didn’t know it.


This hike felt like it took FOREVER.  We were both so tired at this point and worn out from the heat, which was ridiculous since we were used to it, but hey, it happens.  We didn’t even know that we were on the Fire Wave when we got to it.  I mean, it made sense, I could see it, the waves and all that, but all the pictures I’ve seen have been so oversaturated (of this and Pastel Canyon) that I wondered if I was in the right spot at all.  All the people around me were a good sign it was right, but we were quite underwhelmed.  And, of course, once we were there, we saw where we were fifteen minutes before that, right above Pastel Canyon.


While I liked Valley of Fire State Park a lot, I was a little let down by what we saw on these two hikes.  I would love to go back when it’s a little cooler and I can actually enjoy the trails and scenery without boiling alive.  I would still totally recommend stopping here on your way in or out of Vegas or taking a day off from The Strip though.  And like I said, I liked it enough to go back, for sure.

Helpful Things:

  • Again, as usual, bring lots of water.  Sometimes this trail is actually closed because of heat, but it’s still incredibly hot when it is open.  Water.  Lots of water.
  • The hike into Pastel Canyon is about two miles round trip.  The Fire Wave is similar.
  • Tennis shoes are also way better that sandals because of hot sand.
  • I would combine these two hikes.  Starting at Pastel Canyon, follow that and eventually go up onto the rocks and continue across on there to the Fire Wave.  Or do it the other way around.  Go down into Pastel Canyon from the Fire Wave.
  • Go early in the morning or closer to sunset if you’re visiting in the summer.  The temperatures will be a lot better.
  • Of course, wear sunscreen.  The sun doesn’t care.
  • Don’t let this discourage you.  I am glad we hiked to both of these or I would have just wished I would have after we left.  They are still cool, just not as cool as I made them in my head.

Have you been to the Valley of Fire?  Did you do either of these hikes?  What did you think of them?  Do you want to go?

4 thoughts on “Hike To The Fire Wave And Pastel Canyon In Valley of Fire State Park

  1. Thanks for the candid write up of this hike! Very useful as thinking of doing it in December…the photoshopped images online certainly overhype it a little although it still looks well worth a visit for taking some photos. Expectations managed!

    1. Of course! It’s definitely still worth visiting, but like you said, with managed expectations. The petroglyph trail is really cool though!

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