Monday, June 21, 2010

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Off of Interstate 15 in the middle of the Mojave Desert is the Valley of Fire State Park. This Park is one of the many beautiful place that can be found in the Mojave Desert. One of the Park's main attractions are its various odd rock formations.
Unlike other areas of the Mojave where the predominant colors are brown based, Valley of Fire has very reddish hues, and thus the name.

Many years ago the ancestors of are now known as the Paiute and Moapa Indian tribes lived in canyons and among the formations. Various types of animals that lived here can be seen in the petroglyphs that line various rock faces in the Park. Also the petroglyphs served as a "road map" and "learning center" for the people that lived there. Clearly recognizable animals and plants mix with designs and almost writing type symbolism.

Some people believe that the ancient Indian inhabitants made these pictures in rock faces for art or ceremonious purposes.  I think they were more informational that ceremonial. They appear in high easy to see places that would have told the "reader" important information he or she needed to know about hunting, gathering, agriculture, direction, and possibly safety from any aggressive neighbors in the area.

Among the various areas of the Park to explore are what are called "slot canyons." These canyons are made by flash flooding, wind, and other natural forces of erosion. Outlaws of the area were noted for using the slot canyons just as the ancient peoples did, to hide from the law and provide a safe haven until the heat was off.

If you need a temporary place to cool down the Park is full of these crevices in the canyon walls. They are really great places in order to hide or if deep enough explore. Just use caution as there are potentials for flash floods and falling rock.
The way that the light plays off of the rock formations can create some interesting photo opportunities.
Some formations are actually petrified sand dunes that make great areas to hike on. Just be careful. What appears smooth may not be so much.

The orange fire color for which the Park gets its name. Someone has left their mark. Vandalism now and in 1000 years protected artifact go figure. Maybe aliens were here?
This rock formation shows the continued variety of shapes the stone takes in the Park.

A balancing rock. How long will this particular boulder be able to hold on?

The plants of the Mojave help add to the beauty of the park. They compliment these rock formations and represent many of the flora and fauna of the park. Many differing types of mesquite, cacti, yucca, and shrubbery add variety to the biodiversity of the park.
When you get a chance go and see Valley of Fire State Park on a Las Vegas Trip. You may just save some money and see some better attractions than some of the characters that hand out pamphlets on The Strip.

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