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Fire Wave | Ultimate Hike At Valley Of Fire State Park

The Fire Wave is probably the most iconic attraction at Valley Of Fire State Park in Nevada.  People come from all around to see the famous wave-like rock formation with layers of colorful red and pink sandstone.  And the hike to see the Fire Wave is an easy 1.5 miles, but there are several loop trail variations that visit other cool parts of the park.

Jake and Emily standing on top of the Fire Wave.

Valley Of Fire State Park is located about an hour northwest of Las Vegas, NV.  It makes the perfect day trip to see some stunning desert scenery beyond the city.  Be prepared to see some of the most vibrant colored sandstone anywhere in the world.

Fire Wave Trail Details

Length: 1.5 miles

Elevation: 236ft

Difficulty: Easy

Terrain: Sand, slickrock

Bathroom: Yes

Dogs: Yes (on leash)

Fee: State Park Fee ($10 per vehicle per day)

Permit: No

Start Of The Trail

The parking lot for Fire Wave Trail.

The trailhead has a large gravel parking lot on both sides of the road.  The first thing you will probably notice is the giant rock wall to the east.  The semi-isolated rock on the far right is called Gibraltar Rock, and it makes an easy target to follow for the start of the trail.  The trail begins as soft sand descending towards this enormous rock wall.

Gibraltar Rock in Valley Of Fire State Park.
Keep Gibraltar Rock on your left as you follow the trail.

As you approach the rock wall, the trail bends to the right and makes its way around the base of the wall.  Gibraltar Rock stays on your left as you hike around to the other side.

Middle Of Fire Wave Trail

Hiking the Fire Wave Trail.

The hike then begins a steady decline into the valley ahead.  Harder sand eventually gives way to sandstone.  In the sandstone beneath your feet, you will start to see the stripes of color in the rock.  Often called, striation, these layers are what give Fire Wave its unique texture.

Arriving At The Fire Wave

Looking down into the slickrock bowl at the Fire Wave.
Looking down into the slickrock bowl at the Fire Wave.

Eventually, after traversing the slickrock for about .2 miles, you will descend into the bowl where the Fire Wave sits.  The colored layers move horizontally around the bowl forming what looks like a real-life topographical map.

The best place to get a picture of the wave-like structure is against the right side of the slickrock, where the rock drops off a steep cliff.  From here you can see the layers swirling around the bowl, and curving up into the air like a cresting wave.  It’s a really beautiful sight!

Colorful rock layers of the Fire Wave.
Colorful rock layers of the Fire Wave.

Turn Back Or Make It A Loop

You have the option to turn around here and return to the parking lot the way you came.  Or there are several options to make it a loop hike that includes other cool parts of Valley Of Fire State Park.  Since the hike to Fire Wave is relatively short, I highly recommend doing one of these loop variations to see more of the park.  They barely add more distance anyway.  However, the trails are not well marked, so use the Alltrails GPS to keep you on trail.

Fire Wave and Seven Wonders Loop Trail (1.8 Miles)

Emily walking through the pastel colors of Pink Canyon.
Emily walking through the pastel colors of Pink Canyon.

The shorter variation is only .3 miles longer than Fire Wave Trail.  To complete this loop, you enter the dry wash just past the Fire Wave.  Once you hit the sandy wash, take a right.  This leads you to Pink Canyon, which is a short slot canyon with vibrant pastel-colored walls.

At the end of Pink Canyon, you need to cross over White Domes Road.  You then walk the wash of another canyon, yet again treated with incredibly unique-looking rock formations.

Seven Wonders Loop.

To complete this loop, there is a right turn you need to make that is easy to miss.

Seven Wonders Loop.
When you see this checker-boarded rock, make a hard right into the side canyon.

Right when you encounter this checker-board-looking rock, take a right into the side canyon.  But I still recommend using the Alltrails GPS tracker, rather than counting on being able to recognize one specific rock.

This last section that takes you back to the parking lot is a little overgrown, but still beautiful.  There are several off-trail “wonders” for which the trail is named.  Some cool arch features and more but we missed them on our first hike here. [more details]

Looking over the final canyon section of Seven Wonders Loop.
Looking over the final canyon section of Seven Wonders Loop.

Fire Wave, Seven Wonders, and White Domes Loop (3.3 Miles)

White Domes Slot Canyon is tall and narrow.
White Domes Slot Canyon is tall and narrow.

The longest loop variation includes the Fire Wave, Seven Wonders Loop, and White Domes Slot Canyon.  The slot canyon at White Domes is really tall and narrow.  This winding corridor is not to be missed!

White Domes also has the remains of a movie set for the 1965 film “The Professionals”  It’s an odd bit of history, but nonetheless still interesting.

Looking down White Domes Trail, you can see remnants of an old movie set.
Looking down White Domes Trail, you can see remnants of an old movie set.

You can do White Domes Loop as a separate hike, but Fire Wave and White Domes are so close together it’s almost not worth moving your vehicle to the other trailhead.

What To Pack On The Fire Wave Hike:

Now, what to pack on these fun hiking adventures? Depending on the time of year, the suggested clothes might change. Although we always suggest a merino wool layer, such as Unbound Merino or Isobaa.

Check out our favorite hiking gear, here! We include our favorite hiking poles, backpacks, rain layer, snacks and more!

Takeaway | Fire Wave

The Fire Wave is one of the most spectacular rock formations is the American Southwest.  The beautiful colors and layers are simply beautiful.  And the short trail is easy enough for most people.

Try to visit at off-peak times to avoid the crowds.  And be prepared for hot weather most of the year.  And as always, Leave No Trace.

For more of our Valley Of Fire recommendations, check out: The Complete Guide To Valley Of Fire State Park

For outdoor adventures a little closer to Las Vegas, check out: Epic Day Trip: Red Rock Canyon Natl. Conservation Area

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