Dante’s Inferno – Diving into the Valley of Fire

Feeling refreshed and ready after our luxury 3.5 hours of sleep we packed up our car to take on day 2! We said farewell to our fish friends and admired the pastel mountains surrounding us. Pahrump (pa-pa-pum), Nevada is the epitome of small desert town, but the contrast of flat, sparse ground and mountains are breathtaking. We couldn’t help but wonder if the locals take it for granted or if they actually fully appreciate the beauty each day.

7 Magic Mountains

We absolutely flew across the country to look at painted rocks. 0 regrets.

Our first official (daylight) stop was the “7 Magic Mountains”, an art installation south of Las Vegas. We went ready to brave the heat on a hike out into the desert… but it was really right off the highway. Not mad about it to be honest. We were greeted by some nice, sandy, wind tornadoes in the distance as we grew closer to the parking lot.

Not going to lie, we were fully prepared for it to be a gimmicky tourist trap that just somehow photographed well. Not the case! It was actually way more impressive than we expected. We sat there for a while pondering the important questions of:

  • how did they stack and make them stay (we have ideas, but still… tell me your secrets)?
  • do they repaint? Or is the paint just supposed to fade and that is part of the “deeper meaning” or artist expression [all those artsy things]

As for the photo ops – obviously there are a good amount of people there, but, if you are patient, there are good photo opportunities capable of avoiding random people in the background. You just need to move fast to take advantage of them! Mom always said patience was a virtue.

After appreciating the stacks, we climbed back in the car to head toward the “Valley of Fire.” While en route we drove through Vegas now during the daylight hours. Not as fun, but did quite enjoy the WIDE variety of billboards… most of which you would make you think “only in Vegas.”

Valley of Fire

The death grip we had on this sign…

UNDERRATED. I stan VAF. Entrance was meh, but awesome inside the park. When researching, it was always mentioned as an “if you have time” or as an alternative to the Wave. We ended up there for the latter of the two because we missed the lottery for the Wave hike, but we were SO happy we did. It isn’t quite as popular, getting there a little later helped too, so you aren’t battling crowds. It was actually really nice, empty, and low key while we were there.

First, and most importantly, let’s talk maps. After the previous night Valley of Fire’s blew us away. It was excellent. Easy to read, easy to navigate, marked sights… *Chef’s kiss*. AND THE ROAD SIGNS?! More than a girl’s heart can take.

I happily spent the first hour staring off into the park and acting as the official park greeter/ photographer while poor McAllister had to hop onto a zoom meeting.

The park was filled with a multitude of landscapes.

As you enter the park (from the Vegas side) you instantly see the juxtaposition between the grey mountains and red rock formations. The scenic route takes you up close and personal by the red rocks. You are able to pull to the side and scramble around the little caves and caverns. It definitely gave me strawberry pot vibes.

*As you will see, boot goes on and off depending on how spicy I’m feeling*

The red rocks also include a mini arch (eye of Sauron) and Atlatl Rock which was the star of the show for us. It displays petroglyphs [I kept saying hieroglyphs] that were drawn OVER 4000 YEARS AGO. We had to hike upstairs [spice level 0, boot it is] just to see them, we couldn’t stop talking about how impressive that they were able to climb up there and how interesting it is seeing where they deemed important enough to mark their life stories.

This guy apparently had a knack for the future. As you can CLEARLY see, he predicted not only MC and I visiting with the two lizard people, but Star Wars with the Tuscan Raider proudly brandishing his gaffi stick atop the mountain. No banthas though, just goats.

Also, at VAF, there are fancy petrified logs! Unfortunately for us, we had no idea what they were supposed to look like so it took us a few tries before finding the noticeably labeled and fenced off logs. We were just practicing with the 20 rock photos before… definitely not confused and trying to justify them looking like logs.

Not logs ➡️ petrified log

The Valley changes yet again from red, to white, to a multi-colored pastel wave pattern. We were bummed that a lot of the hikes (including the Fire Wave hike we specifically came for) were closed for the summer because of extreme temperatures, even if it was only between 85-90 while we were there. No problem for us though! We still felt like we really got the full experience.

The pastel canyons were dreamlike. The yellows, reds, orange, purples, blues, whites, etc. were just swirling around you. A short hike (up a steeper sand slope) left you with a stunning view of the formations. Too overwhelming to properly articulate. We sat there for the longest time watching the golden glow illuminate the waves as the sun began to set and making up shapes in the surrounding rocks.

Do you see the sleeping giant manatee?

Exiting the park we enjoyed continuing to find faces and other objects in the rock formations while searching for the elusive goats (to no avail.)

At the Utah exit we made our final stop to see “Elephant Rock.” The quote signs are very important there because once again we struggled finding this because we just couldn’t see it. We found three other better, rock elephants that, to us, were much more obvious.

The night fell and we admired the stars as we made our way to our Tiny Cabin near Zion.

Tiny cabin was absolutely precious and comfortable. We bathed ONCE AGAIN and returned to our cabin to make PB&Js for dinner, only to find that there were no paper towels or knives. ROUGHING IT. Good thing we have fingers for knives to spread our peanut butter, brain cells at work. Concerning that this was such a struggle seeing that we have our straight up dirt dome stay coming up.

Thoughts/ additional notes of the day:

  • I find people are less intimidated by you and more likely to accept your offer for picture help when booted. I guess in their mind you will probably be easier to catch… LITTLE DO THEY KNOW. Jokes, they are absolutely right.
  • I understand rock layers and colors because of sediments and minerals during different ages. HOWEVER, still amazed by the distinct clean lines between the colors. Not clear how they are SO clean vertical up a mountain. Like someone just took two play-doh colors and just smooshed them together.
  • Deeper into the Pastel Canyon were remnants of an old movie set from “The Professionals” a western movie filmed in 1966 (Thought of you daddio!)
  • Valley of Fire was listening to me, every time I put a wish for directions or explanation out into the universe it would answer with a conveniently located sign post.

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