After staying in a lovely hotel and catching The Sarah Spencer Washington Story, the documentary by our friend Royston, we left San Diego and spent a night at a miserable dump in Las Vegas. The one good thing I can say about the place was we found a great off-the-main-drag cocktail bar and restaurant, Herbs and Rye, solely because of its proximity to the crap hotel. We hit the road as soon as possible on our way to another random Google maps stumble: Valley of Fire State Park (via the Hoover Dam).
I’m glad we stopped at the Hoover Dam; I didn’t appreciate the size, and what a feat of engineering it must have been to build back in the late 1800s, until I saw it in person.
I virtually forgot about our quick tour of the dam when we turned that last corner on Valley of Fire Highway. We’d been driving through desert, flat for ages with tall but olive-and-tan mountains sparsely covered in similar colors of scrub brush. We rounded a bend on that little two-lane road and I think we both simultaneously cursed in astonishment at the intensely red rocky terrain.
I want to thank whoever designed the placement of the campgrounds. They easily could have set them in the middle of the desert fields surrounding the rock formations, but instead the campgrounds were set back into the rocks, so we could not only pick a shaded site but wake up surrounded by vibrant shades of red. We stayed in the Arch Rock campground, further from the main road which meant fewer RVs.
We did the White Domes hike the first day, venturing a little over a mile down the Prospect Trail.
Our first (mini) slot canyon:
The park started to get crowded, as in buses full of tourists from Vegas, so we spent most of the day relaxing at the campground.
We woke early the next day, wanting to tackle one of the most popular hikes before the hordes descended.
This short trail had little elevation gain and we picked a great time to walk it, as the sun hit the rocks and illuminated the various colors.