Valley of Fire: the second visit

I decided it’s worthwhile to use my blog for some of my travel blogging in addition to my modeling addiction so why not start with my most recent visit, the Valley of Fire near Las Vegas. My full Google Photos Album for this trip is here.

I was very impressed the first time I was there about 2 years ago. This time we stayed in the Red Rock Canyon area which wasn’t the best for photography, so I drove the 1-1.5 hr to the Valley. Before that though, the Red Rock Casino & Resort impressed us with a breathtaking sunset view after we arrived.

But it all went downhill from there as I didn’t like the services or amenities much, which I gave a review for Google Maps. Anyway we hiked for a couple of mornings and as expected didn’t have a whole lot of usable shots as most locations didn’t piqued my interest, but at the Calico Tank I did get a little birdie shot…

And while they weren’t best for photos, being immersed in the Red Rock Canyon was an immense experience and definitely worth it.

More importantly I needed to take a break from the busy shooting schedules from the previous days in Death Valley, giving my body a chance to recuperate before my Valley of Fire shooting begins on the Thanksgiving day. On that day I tried to barge in around sunset, but there was a ranger there to stop everyone going too deep into the Mouse Tank Rd. (which is where a lot of fancy landscapes are located), so I didn’t get my chance to scout out the area and thus relied heavily on searching the internet for exact coordinates of POIs. I decided to try again the next morning, started driving 4:30 and arrived around 5:45, had enough time to still scout around a bit. There are a few new spots I didn’t get to visit the first time, and given I only had a morning to do the shoot (leaving LV at noon), I had to choose.

First I tried to locate the Piano Rock, which is inside the scenic loop once you’re in park. That wasn’t hard to find once you have the coordinates, but the feature is facing away from the road so it’d be hard to spot driving by.

The two leg sticks out l guess very much like a piano’s cover being lifted up, hence the name? It’s a nice looking piece of rock for sure and the sunrise and clouds were very cooperative.

These two are the usual angles for it since the two legs are the most visible, but I couldn’t resist the sunrise backdrop.

I was lucky to have those beautiful clouds.

I had to go to the visitor center’s bathroom before venturing into the Mouse Tank Rd., but as I came out I was greeted by 3 big horn sheep – probably a “teen” leading her younger siblings – coming out for breakfast as their horns are smaller.

Then I rushed off to the Mouse Tank Rd. to get to the Pink Canyon or a lesser known name Pastel Canyon. Having been to the Antelop Canyons in AZ, this still piqued my interest because of the rather unusual shapes and colors of the canyon walls. Going there early I could just park beside the road without getting a ticket, but I was worried 🙂

I did quite a bit of homework so it wasn’t hard to find, counted the 4th dip sign and I parked there, but there is one more unmarked dip after that’s slightly closer to the entrance. You can see the yellow and pink right at the entrance.

The canyon walls are certainly pastely colored. The canyon is short, there is a most-photographed midsection that has a fantastic swirl pattern that attracted me.

That’s something I didn’t see in Page. As I ventured in, the rule with canyons is that the direction matters for photos, so I kept checking back for good views, sure enough there are some nice ones, like this pastel interlocking teeth section.

Let’s finish with a grand swoosh finale!

The slot canyon appeared to end but I saw people walking my way, so perhaps there are more explore but I don’t want to run out of the nice sunlight so I rushed back for my next spot, but not before another colorful landscape abstract.

Next up is an unlabeled Crazy Hill trail that leads to its namesake. I parked at Parking Lot #3 and started walking, but very soon discovered I shouldn’t be making a steep decent into a valley below, so I looked for alternative paths. I still went at it the wrong way – there were 3 paths, one too steep, the middle one is right and the right most one really goes somewhere else. Anyway I chose the latter, which means I walked too far and reached the Thunderstorm Arch first.

It looks great with the backdrop, and the rock itself is nicely colored. Much better looking than the Arch Rock.

It is big enough for a person so you can sit inside. I wonder if I can get a shot of Crazy Hill from here but at that time I didn’t know where it is.

Not a common shot for the arch but I like the photogenic rock strata swirls inside the arch. Next I walked to the Fire Cave – I’m actually certain it’s mislabeled because Fire Cave either refers to the Windstone arch or some place else. Either way there I found this heart-shaped hole.

Very interesting formation indeed. But I have yet to locate Crazy Hill, which I finally did after a bit of search.

What a wonderful splat of colors! It really was worth the trail. All the magenta/earth/yellow/white splash of bands come together in an eruption pattern.


Despite the sun already up and almost ruining the colors, there are some thin cloud covers that helped preserve the colors, so I made a few shots I wanted before walking back to the car. But not before finding this little gem.

It’s like a Sultan’s palace with 3 pillars on the outside. The grass obscured the shape of it unfortunately, but none the less a cool formation.

This time I found the right trail 🙂 Valley of Fire remains a place I can revisit as there are still some unexplored landmarks in the park, so may be I’ll come back in a couple of years? Again the full res pictures are on Google Photos.

Categorized as Travel

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