Valley of Fire Peak In Nevada Valley of Fire State Park

  • Updated: November 24, 2012
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

  Valley of Fire Peak (2,972')
When:  November 24rd, 2012
Where:  Valley of Fire, Nevada
Who:  Matthew Hengst, Anne Kircher
Pictures:  Matt's Flickr
GPS Track:  Track

Yesterday Anne and I had kicked off the long Thanksgiving weekend with a somewhat relaxed day and scrambled up the relatively short White Dome & Gibraltar.  After looking at what the park had to offer I figured we could easily amuse ourselves for another day and then we'd probably head on and grab the relatively nearby Desert Peak Section list peaks Virgin and Hayford.

The remaining named bumps on the official park map (which wasn't the best, I'd strongly recommend bringing your own) weren't overly interesting looking so we decided to head for the high point we'd been able to see from White Dome the day before.  It had the advantage of being the most interesting looking thing around.

We woke up and made breakfast in our nicely tucked away site surprised to see how much the campground had emptied out since Thanksgiving night.  Despite the fact it was only Saturday and the weather was nice most folks seemed to have packed up and headed for home.

After crafting and consuming some only slightly burned pancakes we packed up and were off.

We decided to start from the Mouse's Tank parking area somewhat arbitrarily.  The other option would have been to come in from the road to the west and I later found reports from people who had done just that thought I have to say the scramble on the approach from the west was just about as much fun as the peak itself.

Mouse's Tank is actually a hike to the east of the road running north from the visitors center.  There's also signs warning the road closes at sunset but hey, when have I ever come out in the dark...*cough*

The parking area had picnic tables but most of the activity seemed to be on the other side of the road.  We parked and set off cross country heading roughly west -ish.

We did cross periodic evidence others had been out this way but we never saw another person outside of the parking lot.  The lack of a clear use trail was actually rather refreshing.  If I did the same hike again I'd probably end up picking a different route and having just as much fun.

While most of the route was class 2 (with admittedly some amount of prickly brush here there and eveywhere) we did have a fair amount of class 3 bits scattered throughout that were surprisingly fun.

In one of the flatter sections I saw an interesting looking little point I marked as Red Vista Point.  Anne was somewhat less than enthused so she rested below while I scrambled up...

...only to promptly yell down that the view was awesome and she should come up.  She did so with slightly less unrestrained glee than I'd shown.

The view was damn nice and well worth the time spent.

We even had a perfect view of our goal in the distance.

We still had a ways to go so we soon continued on.

Please note that this was not quite as sketchy as it appears in the pictures.  Looks rather badass though!

From here we ended up cliffing out after climbing up on the rather promising looking mound I marked as Alcove Rock.  Finally I found a rather interesting route down right before and ended up taking a rather interesting route down right before I was going to have us backtrack and go around.

We got to do some interesting downclimbing...

...followed by a bit of a tight squeeze...

...and even had a short cave-y bit.  Much fun was had by me and a somewhat lesser amount by Miss Kircher.

We finally reached the base of the highpoint we were aiming for just about the time of day you start to contemplate the levels of excitement a downclimb via headlamp would offer.  (And to wonder how serious they were about that closed at sunset sign where we parked)

We went up a series of ramps following occasional ducks which kept us from cliffing out all but once.  There was only one real bit with any pay attention level exposure which really wasn't too bad.

Further up it turned into easy slabs and soon we topped out.

We had an awesome view and could see the campgrounds off to the south.

We found a register with a few familiar names.  Several of the entries mentioned having come up the ridge to the south and I really wanted to make the hike into a nice loop.  I had to admit we were a little pressed for daylight and I was somewhat reluctant to let things get too epic with Anne along so after a few brief explorations turned up no ducks or obvious routes down I reluctantly turned us back the way we'd come.

Oh and did I mention there were park benches up there?  I found out later they apparently helicopter groups up there for weddings.

We backtracked back down the ledges and once down followed what appeared to be a the most heavily trafficked route.

That is of course a relative term.

We did our best to move at a rapid clip only stopping occasionally to amuse ourselves.  Despite our restraint it was increasingly obvious we were going to make it back after dark.

We made a valiant effort to beat the darkness but ended up making the road south of Mouse Tank a little after dark.

As we were slightly exceeding the "closed at sunset" designation I was somewhat apprehensive when a ranger drove up.  I was half expecting another scolding.

Instead the guy was extremely pleasant and just wanted to check that one of the vehicles at Mouse's Tank belonged to us.  Apparently they sweep the road each day after dark though I don't believe they gate it (which had been another point of concern when we realized we'd be out after dark...)

Back at our vehicle we drove back to the visitors center and found someone to ask about the showers we'd heard rumors of.  We'd only been out two days but with two more ahead of us it was something we didn't want to pass up.

It turned out they were at the other campground Atlatl Rock. This turned out to be much bigger and nicer then Arch Rock and in addition to the showers had a tent area well away from all the RVs and their generators (and outside television setups)

The showers were damn nice.  We joked about spending another day at the park just to take advantage of them again but peaks called and we set off on the several hour drive out to Virgin.

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