While the Grand Canyon might be the most common road trip for some nature viewing while on vacation to Las Vegas, there is actually an amazing state park just about an hour away from The Strip. Many people don’t even know about it, but this state park consistently gets five star reviews on travel sites, so it is certainly worth the trip.

Valley of Fire State Park is a short drive away from downtown Vegas and provides a really beautiful and unique park that is a welcome escape from all of the craziness of the Las Vegas Strip. Visitors can simply take a few hours to drive out and explore the area, camp for the night or hike some of the miles of winding trails through the beautiful scenery.

Taking the highway, Route 15, straight out of Vegas, the park is just about 55 miles away. Or, if you have more time and are interested in a more scenic route, consider route 41A, that meanders along the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and will add about half an hour to the journey through some beautiful Nevada desert.

What makes Valley of Fire special are a couple of really distinct features. The first is noticed right away, the incredible red sandstone formations, these bright rocks and hills really provide a cool contrast to the rest of the desert and are really something to see at sunrise and sunset.

The second feature that draws in many to Valley of Fire is that it was home to the ancient Pueblo tribal people. They used this area as a place to rest, hide from other groups, hunt and gather. The traces of these people can still be seen today by the petroglyphs or rock art that have been carved into the rocks.

Even if you don’t want to hike or camp, it is certainly worth the trip to take a drive through the park. There is a visitors center as well as multiple pull outs and parking lots to allow for plenty of picture taking and quiet observation. Many of the parking lots also have restroom facilities and even picnic tables for visitors to enjoy for the day.

Have you ever been to Valley of Fire State Park? Do you have any secret great state parks in your area? Let us know, we’d love to hear in the comments!