Dedicated in 1935, Valley of Fire is Nevada's oldest and largest State Park. The rough floor and jagged walls of the park contain brilliant formations of eroded sandstone and sand dunes more than 150 million years old. These features, which are the centerpiece of the park's attractions, often appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun's rays.
One of the great legends of Valley of Fire is about a Paiute Indian named Mouse. Mouse was a known outlaw who worked on a ferry that crossed the Colorado River. After a drunken episode where he shot up an Indian camp his employers fired him and dumped him off in Arizona. There, it is said, he killed two prospectors. An intensive search was conducted but Mouse could not be found. Apparently during these episodes Mouse would flee to the Valley of Fire to hide out. Here he would sometimes use "Mouse's Tank", a depression in the rocks that catches and holds rainwater for up to 6 months after a storm. Mouse's Tank is well hidden within the maze of rock formations in Petroglyph Canyon, a perfect hideout for a fugitive. On July 11, 1897 a posse tracked Mouse near Muddy Spring and ordered him to surrender. Mouse would not give up and after a gunfight with the law Mouse was shot and killed.
Hike #1 - Petroglyph Canyon / Mouse's Tank
The best easy hike in Nevada is Petroglyph Canyon / Mouse's Tank. From the trailhead (N36° 26' 30", W114° 30' 59") the hike is a 1/2 mile round-trip walk to Mouse's Tank (N36° 26' 17", W114° 30' 44") through a red sandstone canyon. Petroglyph Canyon is stuffed with prehistoric Indian rock art. The tanks are a natural cavity in the rocks where rainwater collects. These tanks were used as a water source by a Paiute Indian fugitive in the 1890s. This was not of lasting value to him, as he was captured and killed after several months in hiding. The trail that leads to the tank passes various petroglyphs. This trail is very easy to follow and well marked from the trailhead.
Hike #2 - White Dome Trail
If you have never been in a slot canyon (very narrow canyon with high walls) this is your chance. The slot canyon is only about 1/4 mile long. You enter one end of the slot and exit out the other.
The Trail begins at the south end of the White Domes picnic area (N36° 29' 09", W114° 31' 58"). Hike 1/4 mile downhill to the stone building ruins (N36° 28' 55", W114° 32' 00"). The ruins are what is left of the movie set "The Professionals", starring Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin. This is the only movie set left in Valley of Fire. The Park Service no longer allows movie sets to be abandoned in the park. This set has been here since 1966 when the film was produced.
Just down the hill from the ruin is a wash running northwest to southeast. Follow the wash northwest (to the right). Here you will enter a short slot canyon, enjoy. Immediately after you exit the slot canyon (N36° 28' 54", W114° 32' 09") head north (to the right) along the trail. The arrow marking this turn is easy to miss. On the return trail you will pass next to an interesting arch. At the end of the trail you will pass between two large sandstone mounds (N36° 29' 18", W114° 31' 59") to reach the picnic area. Canyoneering:
If you are looking for some serious hiking or canyoneering than you will be interested in Fire Canyon. This is an adventure for experianced hikers which requires some easy downclimbing and navigation.
© Copyright 2000, Shane Burrows