50 Hikes 50 States–Nevada

Rock, gravel, and sand make the trail. Wear boots.

Let’s face it. Hiking is the step-sister to Nevada’s gambling draw. When anyone hears, “Vegas, Baby”, they certainly don’t think about hiking.

So when we jumping on a quick Southwest flight to Vegas, we told our friends we were bypassing the famous Strip. Everyone wondered what the heck we were doing.

We wanted to go hiking in Las Vegas, Nevada.

To start our 50 Hikes 50 States Project, we wanted to go hiking to somewhere that was just as colorful and interesting as Las Vegas’ glamour, and we found it in the Valley of Fire State Park.

Valley of Fire Has Movie Sets Too!

A left-over set from The Professionals with Burt Lancaster.

I stopped at the Visitor’s Center and talked to the Ranger. I mentioned that we were launching our 50 Hikes 50 States Project with our first hike right there in Nevada. I told her that I wanted something memorable that would shine as bright as a Vegas memory yet be distinct from Utah’s red rocks or California’s Ponderosas.

Her come back was true Vegas. “Unlike red rocks country of Utah, our rocks are multi-colored.”

Sold.

White Domes Trail to Prospect Trail

You can also do Prospect Trail one way if you have transport.

We grabbed maps, filled water bottles, loaded snacks, and headed to the White Domes Trail to continue on the Prospect Trail for an upside-down lollipop hike of 4-5 miles.

Sand Leads the Way

A rainbow of rock colors!

Famous for its Hollywood sets, the White Dome Trail starts in a sandy pit you must hike about 1/3 mile out off to reach firmer trail. When the trail becomes much more trail worthy, you’ll immediately come to the set of The Professionals (1966) starring Burt Lancaster. Find the signs and props, then begin your hike to the left.

Caves decorate the sides of the trail.

Giant white and yellow slickrock creates a canvas for the lavender and yellow wildflowers gracing the trail. From firm trail to rocky outcrop and stone stairs, you’ll meander through white and red rock abutted against bright blue skies. It’s a palette of rioting color that could inspire the Vegas Strip. Enjoy every gradation.

At about 1/2 mile in, you’ll see a sign that takes you south to the Prospect Trail.

Beyond the Prospect Trail sign, the trail become unmarked and unmaintained.

The sign warns prospectors that the Trail is unmaintained and unsigned. We took heed and established our bearings. The Prospect Trail runs north and south along a fin of red rocks. We determined that if we stayed on the west side of the fin and headed southerly, we’d stay on the Trail. It was a good plan.

Smaller kids might want to stay on the shorter White Domes Trail.

Once on the Prospect Trail, we were alone. Most folks, especially those with small children, stayed on the 1.1- mile loop of the White Dooms Trail.

Wildflowers Brush Against Rust and Orange Walls

Wildflowers greeted us along the trail.

The Prospect Trail immediately became more rugged. At times we followed the Trail through the sandy bottoms of arroyos and sage brush to then climb the Trail up sandstone scrambles of 15 feet. All the while, the rainbow of red, orange, white, lavender and rust rocks on our left kept us mesmerized. Lizards scattered from our footfalls. Breezes blew through the creek beds while we rested from the relentless sun in sparse shady spots.

Spiderman-style in the Slot Canyon

Be sure to strike a pose in the slot canyon.

Since we didn’t have a transport at the southern end of the Trail, after about a mile and a half or so, we headed back north to the intersection of the Prospect Trail and the White Domes Trail. We continued around the White Domes Trail to the west, passing through its narrow and short slot canyon. Be sure to get your slot canyon picture, Spiderman style!


After about 4.5 miles, we returned to the parking lot. The White Dome Trail ends just to the east of the parking lot which has good signage and restrooms. By 12:00 p.m., the parking lot was full with folks waiting for parking spots.

What’s Next?

Be sure someone knows where you are going when you head down an unmaintained trail!

Will you go hike in the Valley of Fire? Several hikes of different lengths can make up an exciting day throughout the Valley. We picked this route because it was the right length, had a combination of fabulous rock structures, and entertained us with Hollywood folklore. Why will you hike it?

Millions of words tell the story of what to do in Vegas. Although we did enjoy the Neon Museum, we bypassed the hoopla all together and visited Hoover Dam. Where will you go?

See you on the trail,

~Chris

PS Next up on our 50 Hikes 50 States Project, Illinois!

Things to Know About This Hike (click for interactive map)

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