An hour northeast of the Las Vegas Strip is Valley of Fire State Park, a rugged desert with candy-colored striated sandstone, fiery-red rolling hills, and narrow braided slot canyons.
A visit to Valley of Fire State Park isn’t complete without a hike on the Fire Wave Trail. Whether you hike it as a standalone trail or loop it with the Seven Wonders and White Domes Trails, you absolutely need to experience this otherworldly beauty near Las Vegas, Nevada.
In this guide, I’m going to tell you all about the Fire Wave Trail and how to hike it. I’ll share directions to Valley of Fire, entrance fees, how to get to the Fire Wave Trailhead, tips for a great visit, FAQs, and exactly what to expect on your Fire Wave hike.
Fire Wave Trail: Best Hike in Valley of Fire State Park
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Getting to Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire State Park is located about 1 hour from the Las Vegas Strip, making it a perfect day trip from Vegas. There is no public transportation to the park entrance, so you’ll need to bring your own vehicle (or rent a vehicle).
If you’re coming from Las Vegas, you’ll enter the park from the west side via I-15.
If you’re coming from Lake Mead or Zion National Park, you’ll enter the park from the east side via Northshore Road.
Nevada Residents: $10/vehicle
Non-Nevada Residents: $15/vehicle
NOTE: Your America the Beautiful pass will not work to get into Valley of Fire State Park.
Hours & Closures
Valley of Fire State Park is open from sunrise to sunset.
You cannot hike the Fire Wave in the summer due to high heat. The Fire Wave and Seven Wonders Loop are CLOSED from June 1 – September 30.
Tips For Your Visit
- Get to the park early. You will avoid the line of cars at the entrance station, the crowds at the trails, and the intense mid-day heat.
- Bring lots of water and adequate sun protection. There is very little shade on the Fire Wave Trail, so heat exhaustion and dehydration can occur rapidly.
- Fill up your water bottles before hiking. There are fill-up stations at the visitor center.
- Avoid visiting in the summer. The best time to visit Valley of Fire is October through April.
- Always leave no trace. Leave no trace whenever you recreate outside and always follow proper trail etiquette.
Fire Wave Trailhead
The Fire Wave Trailhead is located on White Domes Road (sometimes called Mouse’s Tank Road). The parking lot for the Fire Wave is the second to last lot on the road – it’s labeled P3 on the Valley of Fire State Park map. You can park on either side of the road in either of the two small parking lots.
📍 Click here for Google Maps directions to the Fire Wave Trailhead.
When hiking the Fire Wave Trail, you have a few route options.
1️⃣ One, you can hike just the Fire Wave Trail.
Fire Wave Trail Stats
- Length: 1.3 miles
- Elevation Gain: 150 feet
- Type of Trail: Out & back
- Difficulty: Easy
2️⃣ Two, you can hike the Fire Wave Trail and combine it with the Seven Wonders Loop.
Fire Wave and Seven Wonders Loop Stats
- Length: 1.9 miles
- Elevation Gain: 187 feet
- Type of Trail: Loop
- Difficulty: Moderate
3️⃣ Three, you can hike the Fire Wave Trail and combine it with the Seven Wonders Loop and the White Domes Trail.
Fire Wave, Seven Wonders, and White Domes Loop Stats
- Length: 3.2 miles
- Elevation Gain: 380 feet
- Type of Trail: Loop
- Difficulty: Moderate
Since the Fire Wave Trail is combined with two other epic trails – White Domes and Seven Wonders – I will give you a detailed description of all three sections.
But remember, you don’t have to hike all three! You can hike one or two, and it’ll still be an epic hike.
The Fire Wave Trail starts off of Parking Lot 3 (P3 on the map). There are two small parking lots – one on each side of the road.
If you’re coming from the visitor center, The Fire Wave Trail begins on the right side of the road.
The Fire Wave Trail starts off on a sandy, semi-steep path that wraps around the mammoth red rock formation, Gibraltar Rock (pictured below).
The majority of the elevation change is at the beginning of this trail, so you’ll get it out of the way from the get-go. But don’t worry; it’s not overly steep.
Circle around Gibraltar Rock and follow the trail markers (tall posts with rocks around the base). Gibraltar will be behind you as you head toward the Fire Wave.
Even though you’re not quite at the official “Fire Wave” at this point, the swirly, rocky landscape leading up to it is almost as impressive. The distant views of the desert, with its rugged mountains, red and white rocks, and colorful domes, are stunning. That’s what I love about this trail: even before you’ve arrived at the “main event,” you are still getting rewarded with such an exciting hike.
Soon you’ll reach the Fire Wave! It was impressive to me, but it is smaller than some people think. It’s often compared to The Wave in Arizona, and while it certainly has a similar look, this is on a much smaller scale. Even though the Fire Wave is “small,” the colorful swirls, waves, striations, and ribbons patterned into the rock are spectacular and make this one unique from the one in Arizona.
If you don’t want to go any further and all you want to do is to hike the Fire Wave, you can turn around now. Just past the Fire Wave, there will be a post with some rocks that says “End of Fire Wave Trail – 7 Wonders Loop Continues.” Head back the way you came.
If you don’t want your journey to end, continue past the rock post that says “End of Fire Wave Trail – 7 Wonders Loop Continues.” This is where the Seven Wonders Loop portion begins! This loop will take you back to your car without having to retrace your steps back through the Fire Wave.
Past the Fire Wave, you’ll weave through a wide wash with yellow, pink, and white-striated sandstone for a bit before reaching Pastel Canyon (or Pink Canyon). Note that this part of the trail (leading up to Pastel Canyon) is very exposed, and there is little shade.
The Pastel Canyon is gorgeous. The pink, yellow, orange, and white walls reminded me of scoops of Neopolitan ice cream. But instead of sitting in a cute ice cream shop, you’re wandering through the Nevada desert.
Though Pastel Canyon is a wider slot than the one in White Domes, its pink, wavy walls are what make this one stand out.
Note that the lighting of Pastel Canyon is pretty harsh mid-day, so to get the richer glow and bring out the vibrant shades of pink, I’d recommend going in the early morning or closer to sunset.
After Pastel Canyon, you’ll cross White Domes Road (or Mouse’s Tank Road) to finish the trail. Soon, you’ll reach a junction where you can continue straight to the White Domes Trail or turn right to finish the Seven Wonders Loop back to your car. You can either hike White Domes and come back to finish the Seven Wonders, or skip White Domes, and take the Seven Wonders back to your car.
The final portion of the Seven Wonders Loop features Crazy Hill, Thunderstorm Arch, and Fire Cave.
Challenge: See if you can spot all seven geological formations that this trail is named for!
- Fire Wave
- Pink Canyon (Pastel Canyon)
- Crazy Hill
- Striped Rock
- Kaolin Wash
- Thunderstorm Arch
- Fire Cave
→ READ NEXT: 8 Best Weekend Trips From Phoenix, Arizona 🚗
The White Domes Loop, if done separately, is just 1.1 miles. However, you can combine it with the Fire Wave and Seven Wonders trails to make it one giant loop! This is what we did, and I highly recommend it.
Instead of circling back to your car from the Seven Wonders Loop, I’d continue straight to the White Domes Loop, hike that trail, and then finish the Seven Wonders Loop back to your car.
I absolutely loved the White Domes Loop. If you’re hiking the loop clockwise, the first feature you’ll come to is the White Domes Slot Canyon. This 100-yard-long slot canyon is definitely the highlight of the trail!
While the slot may not be as colorful as Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona or the Pink Canyon that’s on the Seven Wonders Loop, the narrow slots with the towering walls and sandy floor are still so fun to weave through. And the cooler air inside the slots feels so refreshing on a hot day!
As you travel along the sandy and rocky White Domes loop, you’ll spot the remains of an old movie set, small arches, and sweeping views of the park.
→ READ NEXT: 11 Best Weekend Trips From Las Vegas
Valley of Fire FAQs
Is the Fire Wave Trail open year-round?
No. You cannot hike the Fire Wave Trail (and Seven Wonders Loop) from June 1-September 30 due to high heat. Even though the Fire Wave Trail is open from October 1 – May 31, temperatures can still get high, and shade can be hard to find. Make smart decisions, and be prepared with lots of water and sun protection.
Can I visit Valley of Fire at night?
The park is only open from sunrise to sunset. The only way you could be in the park after dark is if you were camping in Valley of Fire.
Can I camp in Valley of Fire?
Yes! There are two campgrounds in Valley of Fire with a total of 72 campsites.
Click here to make your reservations! ⛺️
What to Bring to Valley of Fire
Make sure to always carry the 10 Essentials!
Here are some things to bring with you to Valley of Fire.
- Day Pack. You’ll need a pack to carry all of your hiking essentials. I’d recommend a quality Osprey backpack.
- Hiking Boots/Shoes. You’ll want to wear a pair of durable hiking boots or shoes. I personally adore Keen and Danner for their style and quality.
- Sun protection. Wear/bring sunglasses, a sun hat, and sunscreen to stay protected from harmful UV rays.
- Water bottle. This one from CamelBak is my go-to. PACK PLENTY OF WATER!
- Electrolytes. These are the best-tasting sugar-free drink mixes I’ve ever had.
- First aid kit. Add instant cold packs for some much-needed relief from the heat.
- Headlamp. These are essential for night hikes and emergencies. This Petzl headlamp is my favorite.
- GPS. Carry at least two forms of navigation. Bring a paper map, compass, and/or a pre-downloaded electronic map. Gaia GPS is my favorite app for downloading maps offline and staying on the trail.
- Plenty of salty snacks!
Discover Your Next Adventure
Where to next? I’ve got some suggestions!
- Hike the Chasm of Doom in Joshua Tree
- One Day in Petrified Forest National Park
- Saguaro National Park East Vs West
- One Perfect Day in Page, Arizona
- One Day in Zion National Park
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