Firewave in Valley of Fire State Park is the most colorful place in the entire park with entire hillsides banded with dramatic colored stripes from white through countless shades of browns and reds. The main firewave area is pretty easy to access as it is only a mile from the parking area and the trail is relatively tame as trails go with only a few mild rocky areas to traverse. It’s fun watching families and children in joyful awe and wonder of the amazing sight. The colors can dramatically vary with the angle of the sun, so you could visit Firewave at different times of day and experience a uniquely different scene.
The main parking area for Firewave is on the Mouses Tank Scenic Drive in Valley of Fire State Park between the Silica Dome turnoff and the where the scenic drive ends at White Domes. The trailhead is right off the parking area.
Begin by descending toward a system of tall red rock cliffs and navigate to the right and around. The cliffs themselves are sheer and majestic offering opportunities to look up and take photos of the red rock against the backdrop of blue sky. As you reach the right end you’ll descend to a valley of sandstone hills that will gradually become more and more colorful as you can see in the slide show at the top of this page, and in the video. Allow yourself to take in the wonder of such a place…I have never seen anything like this in my life. The sandstone hills are frozen sand dunes from the time of the dinosaurs – 150-200 million years ago. Iron leached into the sand from below causing the reddish tones.
How the vivid stripe formations came about I do not know, unless perhaps there were a series of colored layers of sand laid one upon the other that were frozen and then gradually etched into the hills that lie in the valley today. But why did this happen in this one location so uniquely and beautifully? The action of the wind? The action of water? Who knows? At such times I find it valuable to get out of my head and out of scientific thinking mode and just bask in the wonder of the incredible surroundings. Perhaps this is more a place for artists and philosophers than for scientists…but there’s a place for everyone in Firewave in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.