A Complete Guide to Walking Fire Wave in the Valley of Fire

One of the most impressive state parks in Nevada is Valley of Fire State Park, famous for its otherworldly, brilliantly striped sandstone formations. The formations are well worth the visit, but visitors should plan around the heat of summer. One of the most rewarding trails in the park is the Fire Wave Trail, which leads to some of the most impressive formations.

Nevada is an often underrated state with many rewarding attractions and interesting state parks. The state is home to the Great Basin National Park, which is home to some of the oldest trees in the world. Nevada has one of the southernmost glaciers in North America, and one of its most unusual state parks is one that combines a ghost town with ichthyosaur fossils.

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Valley Of Fire State Park – Nevada’s Oldest State Park

One of the advantages of Valley of Fire State Park is that it is only 46 miles from Las Vegas and only a 45 minute drive. That means it’s a great option for those looking for a day trip from Sin City into the Nevada deserts. Valley of Fire State Park is located in the Mojave Desert.

  • Size: About 46,000 acres
  • Location: 46 miles from Vegas

Valley of Fire State Park covers around 46,000 acres and gets its name from the striking Aztec sandstone formations. They formed from shifting sand dunes about 150 million years ago.

Sandstone colors can appear to be on fire as they reflect the sun’s rays. The waves of fire on the sandstone are beautiful, to say the least. Sometimes the stripes can even appear painted on the roads.

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  • Oldest: Valley Of Fire State Park is the oldest state park in Nevada

The state park is home to a number of natural attractions, more than just the colorful sandstone. See petrified trees and even 2,000-year-old petroglyphs.

Take time to visit the visitor center and learn about the ecology, prehistory, history, and geology of the park and the surrounding region.

  • Opening Hours: Daily from sunrise to sunset
  • Price of admission: $10.00 NV Vehicle and $15.00 Non-NV Vehicle

Related: Mojave National Preserve is Home to Joshua Trees (and More Adventures)

Planning to Walk the Fire Wave Trail

One of the most popular hiking trails in Valley of Fire State Park is the Fire Wave Trail. The Fire Wave Trail is only a short trail and is only about 1.5 miles round trip and does not require a permit to hike.

The best time to see the sandstone formations is at sunrise and sunset. That said, the park is only open from sunrise to sunset, so if you want to see the colors at sunset, you’ll need to leave quickly afterward (otherwise you risk a fine).

  • Length: 1.5 miles or 2.4 kilometers round trip
  • Elevation change: 175 feet
  • Walking time: about 45 minutes

The trail is also open to dogs, so those traveling to Las Vegas with Pooch or Scruffles are in for a treat.

Please note that the Wave Trail is a newer trail and may not appear on some of the older park maps.

Another stunning, vibrantly colored sandstone formation is called “The Wave” at Coyote Butte in Arizona. However, The Wave requires a permit which is really hard to get. Only about 5% of permit applicants obtain the required permit, which makes the formations in Nevada’s Valley of Fire much easier to visit.

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Related: Road Trip Vegas: This Stunning Nevada Park Is Just an Hour From Sin City

Fire Wave Trail Seasonal Closures

If one would like to hike the Fire Wave Trail, be sure to check the Nevada State Parks website for closures or other information. The trail (along with the Seven Wonders) is often closed during the summer due to extreme heat (at the time of writing, in early September, it was closed due to extreme heat). There is no shade along the trail, and the heat radiating from the sandstone makes it more oppressive.

  • Closing: During periods of extreme heat

In addition to checking ahead online, ask at the visitor center for day-hiking trail suggestions. There are a number of options with different pitches and lengths.


If one is visiting during the hottest months of the year, it is best to plan to avoid the heat of the day.

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