7 Days in Nevada

Updated: May 6, 2019

We took a little side trip to Las Vegas which meant a stopover at the Hoover Dam and an amazing place called Valley of the Fire State Park. It was a fun detour from the National Park Tour!

Hoover Dam

First stop on the Nevada side trip was the Hoover Dam. The "Hoover Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the U.S. states of Nevada and Arizona. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt." {Source: Wikipdedia} I think Superman spoiled this one a bit. We both expected it to be much larger, lol. However, it was still pretty impressive! Macabre fact: 96 people lost their lives during construction of the dam and are buried within it.

The Bathtub Ring

The white ring around the edges of Lake Mead is commonly called the "Bathtub Ring". It is exposed sand and minerals that would normally be underwater. Water levels have dropped significantly since 1983, the last time it was considered full at 1,229 feet. It is currently 1088 feet and 38% full based on volume capacity. This level is dangerously close to the level at with Federal regulators will declare a first-ever shortage on the Colorado river which feeds Lake Mead. A 19 year drought is considered to be the primary cause of the low levels along with over-usage of the resource. Millions of people in Arizona, Nevada and California along with farmers rely on water from Lake Mead.


We boondocked for the night at the Hoover Dam Casino & Lodge which was right on Lake Mead and pretty scenic! We went for a helicopter ride to see Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam which was pretty cool! We also met some great folks from Canada and hung out for the evening sharing fun RV trip stories. The story about their door was priceless and really enforced the idea that an RVer can engineer pretty much anything to work if needed. We also took a hike along the lake to get some great views of the lake and the historic railroad tunnels along the trail. There were 5 total but the 3rd one was closed so we had to turn back. Probably should have read that sign before we headed out!

Valley of the Fire State Park

Our next stop was Valley of Fire State Park which had been recommended by a fellow photographer as a "cool place to see". After finding a spot to boondock for the next few nights and getting the trailer settled, we headed over to the park to see what it had to offer. I'd say it had plenty! Located just 50 miles from Vegas it is a busy place for locals and travelers alike looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and explore some wild nature instead. We only had a few hours to spend here but it was definitely time well spent!

The rock formations were amazing all through the park! Even in the early afternoon the brilliant red of the rocks seemed to glow!

Scenic Drive

Since we were only planning for a few hours in the park we decided to take the scenic loop drive and check out the sights from the road. The drive through the park was amazing! The landscapes seemed to go on as far as the eye could see. The roads were curvy and hilly, adding to the view.

Rainbow Vista

The short hike promised some great views and photo ops so off I went on my first solo hike while Jody waited in the truck. Hiking in the desert is a different experience. Most of the trail was either sand or rock and I was on constant watch for snakes! Thankfully I only saw lizards. The views were as good as promised and even though I didn't hike other trails that promised views of slot canyons I did get to see some on this hike!

White Domes

We didn't hike at White Domes and that may be one of my only regrets during the visit. As you can see there were a lot of people which convinced us to grab a quick shot and head down the road.

Seven Sisters

This rock formation was right off the road and had several spots for picnics or just enjoying the scenery. It reminded me of a night shoot to Black Mesa in Oklahoma with my photography group. I missed the opportunity to shoot the Three Sisters there so I made sure to get the Seven Sisters in this park. It wasn't night but I did grab a shot of the moon!

Arch Rock

I loved the Arch Rock. It is probably not as impressive as those found in Arches National Park but it did give me an idea of what I might see down the road. It is a delicate formation so there are signs posted asked visitors not to climb on this formation.

Rock Formations

All in all the best thing about Valley of Fire State Park is the cool rock formations. If you use your imagination you can see all kinds of things like elephants, bee hives and even faces!

Las Vegas

Neither of us gamble or party so we weren't sure what to expect from our trip to Vegas. We took advantage of the opportunity to relax at the resort and enjoyed seeing Old Vegas and some of the famous neon lights. All in all it was a nice stop that gave us the opportunity to see both Valley of the Fire and Hoover Dam so I say win-win!

Next: The adventure continues in Death Valley National Park!

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