Red boulders and red rock formations seen while Hiking the Fire Wave in Valley of Fire State Park

Fire Wave: Valley of Fire’s most epic hike (2024)

Affiliate Disclosure for Destination Checkoff

Valley of Fire State Park near Overton, Nevada has several hikes but the most popular hike is the Fire Wave.

The Fire Wave stands out as a must-see natural wonder. Its wave-like formations and swirls of red, pink, and white sandstone create a visual spectacle that’s very unique.

So obviously, when we visited Valley of Fire State Park on our Las Vegas vacation with kids, hiking the Fire Wave trail was on our bucket list.

Let me tell you, the Fire Wave lived up to its hype. We all loved the hike, and for my teens, it was their favorite part of the whole Vegas trip.

Let me take you through my experience on this iconic trail, offering tips and answering some FAQs to help you make the most of your visit.

Getting There

Valley of Fire State Park is about an hour’s drive north east from Las Vegas, making it an easy day trip from Las Vegas.

If you are coming from Vegas via I-15N, you will most probably use the West Entrance of the park.

You can also combine a visit to Valley of Fire with a road trip from Las Vegas to Zion and Bryce National Parks by stopping at Valley Fire on the way.

Stunning Mouse's Tank Road with fiery red rock cliffs on both sides of a winding road - in Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.
Stunning Mouse’s Tank Road scenic drive in Valley of Fire will lead you to Fire Wave Trailhead

Once in the park, follow the main Valley of Fire Road and then the Mouse’s Tank Road (also called the White Domes Road) to the parking area P3 for the Fire Wave Trailhead.

If this sounds confusing, do not worry; you will get a map at the park entrance booth when you pay the entrance fee. We found the park map to be very helpful as it was clearly marked with the attractions, trailheads, and parking lots.

About Fire Wave Trail

The Fire Wave is around a 1.5-mile total out and back with a slight elevation gain depending on how much you descend down the rolling rocky hills to be closer to the fire wave.

The parking lot P3 is right across the Fire Wave trailhead and has space for around 20 cars. Parking can be limited during peak morning and evening times, but turnaround time is quick, so you should be able to find a spot.

Hiking the Fire Wave

From the parking lot, the trailhead is on the opposite side of the road and begins as a red sandy trail. We followed the trail and walked towards the right of the big red cliffs.

Trail with loose red sand and huge red boulders in the background
Start of Fire Wave Trail with red loose sand on the trail

Once we reached the cliffs, we went right and downhill towards the open space where the rock formations were.

hikers on a sandy downhill trail with rocks and boulders and open vistas ahead
After the red hills, the trail goes down toward some large boulders

If you don’t want to go up and down the boulders, there is a path to the right that is flatter.

You will reach this massive boulder with a bench underneath it. I thought that was a weird place to keep a bench! I would not sit there under that gigantic boulder!

Fire Wave Trail path goes from under some large red boulders
Do you see that bench under the large boulder? Weird place to rest 🙂

Once past the boulder with the bench, the trail opens up, and you can see trail markers and rock formations ahead of you.

Hiker walking on the sandy Fire Wave trail towards the rock formations
Trail leads to the rock formations

The sandy trail continues on the right, but everyone was on the rocks to the left and my kids ran to the rocks too.

sandy Fire Wave trail path to the right and rock formations to the left

We stopped at the initial rock formations for some pictures. From here onwards, the hikers were everywhere on the rocks, exploring.

A couple posing on the rolling striped hills of fire wave trail in Valley of Fire State Park
Me and hubby on Fire Wave Trail

You can reach the Fire Wave by continuing further south, and you will reach a point where the path goes downhill.

That is when you will see the Fire Wave. Its not that huge, but is a sight to see. The red and white swirls on the sandstone make a wave-like pattern. It was amazing to see nature’s brilliant artwork!

Fire Wave in Valley of Fire state park - A cone shaped rock with red and white  swirly patterns that resemble a wave.
The Fire Wave in Valley of Fire State Park

For us, more than the actual Fire Wave, the entire trail with the rolling rocky hills was more fun. I mean, seeing the Fire Wave was cool, but the entire trail is awesome as well!

The panoramic vistas everywhere and the fiery red landscape are just out of this world.

Panoramic views seen from Fire Wave Trail in Valley of Fire
Panoramic views seen from Fire Wave Trail in Valley of Fire

The fact that we went in the evening in January made it even better.

The weather was nice for a hike, and the light was just perfect for photos.

And as you can see from my hike photos, the trail had very few people as went went on a weekday evening in January. I can imagine the trail being crowded on weekends.

We took the out-and-back way, so we went back to the parking lot the way we came. On the way back my kids had fun climbing the boulders.

As per the park map, you can do a full loop by continuing on the Seven Wonders and Pink/Pastel Canyon which is a total 1.8 miles loop.

light pink colored rock formations in Valley of Fire State Park
We saw these light pink colored rock formations from the Fire Wave parking lot

The other side of the P3 parking lot had these incredible light pink-colored rolling rocky hills. But we were all spent with exploring rocky hills so didn’t climb these, but they sure looked inviting!

Tips for visiting Fire Wave

Below tips will help make the most of your visit to hike Valley of Fire’s Fire Wave trail.

  • Start Early in the day or late in the evening: Beat the heat and the crowds by starting your hike at sunrise or toward sunset. We started early evening during the month of January, and the weather was perfect. The fact that it was a weekday helped, too.
  • Stay Hydrated: Even on a short hike, the desert environment can dehydrate you quickly. Bring plenty of water, especially if you are hiking during mid-day.
  • Wear Proper Footwear: The trail is partly sandy and partly over rocky, uneven terrain, so good hiking shoes are a must.
  • Leave no Trace: Pack out all trash and leave nothing behind.
Girl in black outfit walking on red sandy fire wave trail
Me on the fire wave trail – love how red this sandy trail is!

FAQs about hiking Fire Wave in Valley of Fire

Below answers to frequently asked questions will help you make the most of your visit to Valley of Fire and Fire Wave.

Do I need a permit to hike the Fire Wave?

A permit is not needed to hike the Fire Wave, but there’s an entrance fee for Valley of Fire State Park. We paid $15 for entry into the park at the park entrance booth. For Nevada vehicles, it is $10 per vehicle.

Is the Fire Wave hike kid-friendly?

Yes, Fire Wave hike in Valley of Fire State park is family-friendly and my teens loved it so much that I think it is one of the best family-friendly things to do in Vegas! But keep an eye on little ones under 5, as the trail has uneven, rocky terrain.

How long does the Fire Wave hike take?

It took us around an hour in total to complete the Fire Wave hike and stop for many photos. On average, allow about an hour to enjoy the hike and take in the views.

What else can you do after the Fire Wave hike?

You can drive further north of White Domes Road and do the White Domes Loop trail. We instead explored other attractions in the park, like driving to the east entrance to check out the Elephant Rock and the Beehive formations.

Where to stay for hiking the Fire Wave?

As it is easy to do a day trip to the Valley of Fire from Vegas, we stayed in Las Vegas on the Strip.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Club Vacations. With its apartment suites, it is one of the best resorts to stay in Vegas with kids.

There are campgrounds in Valley of Fire park which can be reserved online at the official Valley of Fire State Park website, if camping is your thing.

Valley of Fire Tours from Vegas

We had a rental car on our most recent Las Vegas trip, but if you don’t plan to rent a car, then taking a Valley of Fire tour from Vegas is the best way to explore Valley of Fire State Park and hike the Fire Wave. Below is my top recommendation for a hiking tour:

Valley of Fire Hiking Tour from Las Vegas: On this half-day tour with a guide, you can choose between an easy, moderate, or difficult hike in Valley of Fire.

Final Takeaways: Hiking Valley of Fire’s Fire Wave Trail

Hiking the Fire Wave in Valley of Fire State Park was the most memorable part of our Vegas trip and one of the best things to do in Vegas.

If you’re in the Vegas area and have a morning or afternoon to spare, this trail offers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the desert’s magic.

Up next, check out my experiences visiting Red Rock Canyon and Hoover Dam from Vegas.

Related Posts