June 17-18, 2014
Our first destination on Road Trip USA: Summer 2014 was warm, calm, and colorful when we arrived there in the early evening on June 17th. Of 23 state parks in Nevada, Valley of Fire is the oldest and largest and is just a quick 50-mile drive from Vegas.
SETTING UP CAMP AT ATLATL CAMPGROUND
With summer’s heat beginning to sink in, camping traffic slows down in the desert, so we had several options to choose from when it came to campsites. Though Arch Rock Campground was closed, Atlatl Campground had plenty of sites open, and we picked one of three nice, private walk-in campsites in the back corner of the campground.
ATLATL ROCK PETROGLYPHS
Not far from Atlatl Campground is Atlatl Rock, the sandstone canvas for 3,000-year-old petroglyphs. We got a close-up look after walking up a short flight of stairs.
VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK AT SUNSET
As the sun went down, we hopped in the Yaris to get an overview of the park by car and got some of the best, most colorful photos from our whole trip.
FIRE WAVE TRAIL HIKE AT VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK
At sundown, it was cool enough to enjoy a quick hike. We headed over to Fire Wave Trail for an easy one-hour walk to and from the firey red rock-covered land that made up the second half of the trail.
WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS IN VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK
Jackrabbits, Bats, & Kangaroo Rats
The wildlife was pretty abundant at Valley of Fire State Park. We were only there from the early evening until late morning, but while there we saw plenty of lizards and jackrabbits around the campground, a snake in the road, and bats catching bugs swarming the lights outside the campground bathrooms at night.
The Milky Way above our campsite at Atlatl Campground
The elusive kangaroo rat has been one of my favorite animals since Ecology class in high school, but I never actually saw one until my birthday last year when one froze in our headlights at Carrizo Plains National Monument. It got even better at Valley of Fire when we saw one hopping and discovered that they actually look just like miniature kangaroos!
I still haven’t been able to catch a photo of one of these little guys, but you can watch a BBC video of a kangaroo rat here.
Finally Spotting A Bighorn Sheep
We never saw a bighorn sheep during our visit to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park about a month back, so I was extremely excited when I spotted one making the trek down the mountainside when we were exiting the park.
Can you spot the sheep in the above photo?
MORE ABOUT VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK
Read more about the park on the Nevada State Parks website here. View the park brochure here.
ABOUT ROAD TRIP USA: SUMMER 2014
In June 2014, we spent two weeks traveling through the Western U.S. between Los Angeles, California and St. Louis, Missouri. With stops in Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Missouri, we saw some spectacular sights, including several National and State Parks, plenty of wildlife, the hike of a lifetime, and the fabulous wedding of one of my best friends since middle school.
With St. Louis (my hometown) as our final destination on our outbound trip, we spent several days in the good ol’ StL while I introduced Ian to some of my favorite people and places in St. Louis. View details about our Road Trip USA, Summer 2014, including links to posts from other places we visited along the way, here.
About the Author
- In March 2014, Diana called it quits on her traditional American working life and set out to explore the world with her partner in crime (and love of her life) Ian Norman. They now live a sustainable life of full time travel, working for themselves and seeking adventure at the same time. Here on North to South, Diana documents their journey in achieving and maintaining this "road less traveled" way of life.
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