Even though I’ve cleaned it from my feet, I cannot shake the dust of the desert. It’s found its way into my heart and I find myself walking in a sea of Kentucky green and blue, while longing for the land of copper and pink.
No one tells you that the desert grabs you and clings to your soul like a barnacle. They tell you about the beauty and the heat, but they forget to mention the faces in the ancient rocks – their wisdom being that of millennia, not years – and yet these ancient rocks remain humble and approachable, even as they take the breath of thousands of visitors each year. The desert heart beats without assistance from man. Just as the ram who roams the rocky terrain feeding on vegetation, with not a fence in sight; man is not needed there, neither as shepherd nor conductor. Even with his dams that shape waterways, and hotels that reach for the cloudless skies, the desert reminds him that she will out live him, because high above those hotels, the Night Hawk flies and the cacti have no need for dams and reservoirs or swanky hotels.
They simply trust that Mother Nature will provide.
And she does.
In the desert, mankind shrinks in the presence of that great expanse of land and sky. All worry of daily life is swept away on the hot, arid breeze, like dry leaves. That world, the human world, doesn’t matter in the desert. Those who visit, who generally live their lives distracted by to-do lists, appointments, and other people’s schedules, become acutely aware of the present moment – each step taken with careful thought as one scans the surroundings for the areas venomous snakes that may be shading themselves from the harsh sun.
Upon witnessing the Divine Splendor of that hauntingly gorgeous valley, man is permanently transformed, dusty to the bone, a little softer, with a hint of grit.
Photo credit: Kevin Brandenburg
Since I was old enough to consider it, I’ve wanted to visit the desert. I had the romantic notion that I’d find answers there. To what? I’m not sure, but the desert intrigued me and my longing to go never ceased. The Valley of Fire did not disappoint and my visit there inspired the above reflection. Is it a romanticized picture of the area? Perhaps.
Is it valid? Absolutely.
The Valley of Fire is the perfect day trip from the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas. During the thirty minute drive, you’ll pass the brown and tan desert flats that are dotted with beautiful purple, yellow, and orange flowers. Keep a close eye out for the magenta blossoms on the cacti as well.
Upon entering the park, you will descend a curve in the road and be greeted by an island of fiery red rocks among the sea of grey and tan. Pull over and take in the view at the various, convenient pull off spots. Snap pictures. You’ll be glad you did. Take your time and soak in all that this glorious valley has to offer.
Plenty of water! Temperatures can get very high in the Valley of Fire. Take more water than you think you’ll need.
Watch for snakes. They’re out there. The valley is their turf, not yours. Be respectful, be cautious, keep an eye out, especially if you have children.
Take your camera. I’m not saying you need to have your camera or phone out the entire trip. Some things are best viewed with the naked eye, but you definitely want to have it with you.
Get out of the car. This park makes it super easy for families, because you can take a leisurely drive through it, but definitely get out of the car if you can. Go explore the rocks. Let the kids climb! Soak it all in.
Watch for wildlife. We saw a ram grazing only a short distance from a rock we were standing on. Keep an eye out! You never know what you may see.
If you visit, please share your experience with me!