My daughter and I had come to Las Vegas so I could get some good shots for a program I wanted to do on Canadian Travel Wholesaler Sunquest Vacations. The idea of this particular presentation was to show would be travelers that a visit to Vegas could very easily be a family affair. Since, both my daughter Mary-Lynne and I are avid movie lovers we decided to take a drive just outside Vegas to a spot where many major Western Movies were made. The place was called "The Valley of Fire"
Valley of Fire is Nevada's oldest state park which is about an hours drive east of Las Vegas. As you drive into the park you get the feeling that you were entering a magical red world or perhaps you were actually entering another world somewhere way off in the universe. The valley is a sea of red sandstone formations that appears to go on forever. The road winds some thirty - two miles through the park, twisting as it goes up, over and around a wonderland of red rock. A lot of very memorable cowboy movies were made in this area and if you concentrate real hard your imagination just might be able to conjure up a visual image of The Duke "John Wayne" galloping somewhere across the landscape chasing after a bank robber or perhaps at the head of an army column. I absolutely loved it there.
In two of the images that Gavin has so beautifully put up on this page for you, if you look very closely and let your imagination help a little bit you can see faces in the rock. I know I could. There are many places where you can see petroglyphs which are pictures drawn in the rock by natives, hundreds, perhaps thousands of years ago. Visitors are welcome to take all the pictures they like but asked not to touch or to rub the petroglyphs because they have been made very fragile by time and can very easily be damaged beyond repair.
It gets very hot in the Valley of Fire and because I always check out a place very well before I head out into a strange area so I knew to take along plenty to drink and a fairly good number of tasty snacks. We went out into the Valley of Fire on a weekday and we barely saw another car along the way. I can tell you the feeling of isolation and disconnection is rather startling and I got the feeling that if I were a robber this would be a very good place to clean out a tourist but it was just my imagination working overtime, fortunately. One would be wise however to be cautious. Be sure to leave valuables and most of your money and important papers in your hotel safe. The fact that I had about 25,000 dollars in camera gear with me did not exactly make me feel too easy. I have actually been followed by guys in various destinations who it was easy to see were out to rob me but a well placed glare and growl from a guy my size serves well to cover up the fact that in reality I am a chicken in dinosaurs costume.
The Valley of Fire is a great place to explore but it is not without it's dangers. There are several species of poisonous rattle - snakes lurking behind or under things or possibly just around the next corner. Then there is something called a Gila Monster a rare desert tortoise. Fortunately ML and I never did get to see either. I would not have wanted to scare them.
I came across one formation that looked very much like a reclining dog or perhaps an all - natural red rock sphinx, really quite outstanding.
We spent an unforgettable day in that Valley of Fire and we left early enough to get back to our hotel in Las Vegas before dark. The Valley is one place I would not want to be with the sun not around. We did run into a few other people over the space of the day, and happily they were quite friendly. All in all it was a photographic delight. I was so glad that we had rented that Cadillac. When I traveled I always had to fly first class and rent very large luxury cars, not because I am really a snob but simply because I don't fit in anything but first class. Being fat does have its advantages.
If you ever go to Las Vegas, by all means don't miss the chance to see "The Valley of Fire" I can assure you that you will love it.
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