We only had an afternoon to visit Valley of Fire State Park so we decided to use our time wisely and just go straight to the Fire Wave. Valley of Fire State Park is located about an hour north of Las Vegas, Nevada by car. The Fire Wave is famous because of the way the sandstone is made up of different layers of red, pink, and white sediment that resembles an ocean wave. Most people hike the more popular Fire Wave Trail, but we opted to do the Pink Canyon (aka Pastel Canyon) Trail instead. The Pink Canyon Trail also leads to the Fire Wave and actually gets you there faster if you’re in a hurry. It doesn’t have a well-marked trailhead so we had to use Google Maps to help us locate the start of the trail. Also, you will have to park on the side of the road. Not sure if this is allowed or not, but we didn’t encounter any problems while we were there. I would highly recommend this park for anyone who needs a break from the Las Vegas strip or if you want a pit stop on your way to Zion National Park.
Pink Canyon Trail Details
NAME: Pink Canyon Trail a.k.a. Pastel Canyon Trail
PARK ENTRANCE FEE : $10.00 per vehicle (Non-NV Vehicles: $15.00 per vehicle)
DISTANCE : Approximately one mile roundtrip
ELEVATION : 59 ft
TYPE : Out and Back
DIFFICULTY : Easy
TIME : 45 minutes
Photographing the Fire Wave
We knew we wanted to take pictures of the Fire Wave during sunset and dusk so we tried to leave Las Vegas about 1.5 hours before sunset. We shot with our Sony A6600 and A7Riii with a variety of lenses. We mostly stuck with a 16mm prime for our wide landscape shots and a 35mm prime and a 90mm prime for all the portrait pictures.
If you want to dress up and take pictures, I think this is a pretty easy place to do it. The Pink Canyon Trail was super flat and you don’t need any special type of footwear. Most of the trail was made up of sand. You could probably just walk in flip-flops if you wanted to. I wore hiking shoes, but it definitely was not needed. Once we got to the Fire Wave, I had my dress in my backpack and all I did was slip it over my clothes. There were other people there (photographers, hikers, Instagrammers, etc.), but mostly everyone was doing their own thing and wasn’t paying attention to you.
Tips on Visiting the Fire Wave
Timing: One thing we did not factor in was that there was an actual line to get in the park. I couldn’t believe that there were that many people trying to visit. I guess it’s become a very popular place to shoot photos, especially during dusk over the years. I would just try to factor at least 20 mins into your time. Also, the park closes at dusk and there are signs everywhere that state that you cannot be in the park when it gets dark.
Drones: Drones are not allowed.