After our wintry visit to Zion, Claudia and I opted to head for the warmer lands of Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. Valley of Fire has sandstone and red rocks, but the rocks are different from anything I’ve seen in Utah. Some are rusty red, full of holes and small arches. Other areas have amazing, multi-colored layers of pastel hues – yellow, purple, orange, and pink.
I didn’t expect to create moody, dramatic images in a place like Valley of Fire. If an opportunity for something like that presented itself, then sure, I’d take advantage of it, but that wasn’t why I went there. It was more about exercising my eye for color and design in a rocky playground, which for me is tons of fun. And isn’t that why we do photography – because it’s fun? It doesn’t have to be super serious all the time.
Valley of Fire is also one of those places that rewards exploration. There are some often-photographed, “iconic” spots in Valley of Fire, but you can head off in almost any direction and find something interesting and photogenic. Discovering beautiful things yourself is also part of the fun.
Our second day at Valley of Fire was overcast, which was perfect for photographing all the colorful rocks. And we saw desert bighorn sheep – lots of them, including an old ram browsing through our campsite at dusk. Seeing the sheep alone was worth the visit.
We only spent two nights in Valley of Fire, but had a great time. We’ll definitely have to go back. Here are a few images from our visit.
— Michael Frye
P.S. If you go to Valley of Fire, be aware that it’s only open from sunrise to sunset, so you might miss the earliest and latest light, and you won’t be able to photograph at night.
Related Posts: Escaping the Snow; Zion in Winter
Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.
Wonderful! I just love exploring there! Headed to Nevada for a short visit next month and will be headed back there too see how things have changed.
Thanks Brie! Glad you like this area too.
Gorgeous images, Michael—many thanks! I must admit that having worked in Nevada for thirty-five years (albeit in the north) and traveled most of the State, I’ve never been to Valley of Fire SP—shameful. I was at Zion two years ago and enjoyed seeing the snow covering that beautiful canyon in your previous post. Take care. —Bob
Thank you Bob! Yup, you should get to Valley of Fire sometime…
Spectacular images, Michael! I love all beautiful things associated with the Mojave Desert. I have aways told myself to make this short side trip when staying in Las Vegas. Thanks for the convincing push.
Thanks Ann, and I hope you get to go soon!