The Cabins and Fire Wave (VOF) - 06/28/2012 Trip Notes

 {Click on an image to enlarge, then use the back button to return to this page}
This page last updated on 02/18/2019
(Fig. 01)
06/28/2012 Trip Notes: On this trip to the Valley of Fire State Park with my neighbor Marc Resnick, we hit two spots that neither of us had been to before; a place called The Cabins and a hike to a location called the Fire Wave. The area where the cabins are located is actually a picnic area and doesn't require any hiking; they are adjacent to the parking area. Getting to the Fire Wave is a different story. It requires a hike that, though it is neither far nor difficult (about a mile and a quarter round-trip with a light amount of elevation gain/loss), on a day like it was today (108 degrees) it can be a bitch. We were going to hike Mouse’s Tank and Petroglyph Canyon as well, but were too drained by the time we finished our hike to the Fire Wave.
(Fig. 01)
Side Note - The Cabins: The Cabins (Figs. 01 & 02) themselves were built by the CCC back in the 1930's as a shelter for travelers and/or rangers. They were a pretty cool stop on the roadside (the Arrowhead Trail) for your average tourist nearly 80 years ago. The Arrowhead trail was the first road to connect Los Angles and Salt Lake City. Click here to learn more about this famous road ... The Arrowhead Trail. There is also evidence of a small reservoir or two nearby. (Figs. 03 & 04) below show how beautifully each of these one-room sandstone cabins fit into the surrounding landscape. Each cabin is fitted with a good sized corner fireplace (Fig. 05) that could have been used for cooking as well as to provide heat on cool desert nights. Each cabin also had a forward facing window (Fig. 06) that provided a view of the eastern landscape. As you can see in (Fig. 02) above, there is also a vast and tempting rock formation behind the cabins, a portion of which contains two panels (Figs. 07 & 08) with more than than a dozen individual petroglyphs. (click any of the pictures below to enlarge)
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
(fig. 08)

Paragraph divider

(Fig. 09)
Side Note - The Fire Wave: Images of the Wave appear on the covers of Nevada Tourism brochures and dozens of photography websites, yet with pictures of the Fire Wave everywhere, there is almost no information about how to get to it. These days however, rangers provide more clear directions to the wave to help keep the human impact on the surrounding area to a minimum. Obviously, photography of the Fire Wave is perhaps the main reason why so many people want to hike to it. In addition to the Wave itself, a full spectrum of desert colors can be seen from this location which allows for some brilliant shots. First of all, let me say that the Fire Wave is smaller than most pictures make it out to be. As you can see in (Fig. 09), the whole thing is less than 40 feet long as it dips into a bowl shaped area. It runs in a North-South direction and most of the pictures of it are facing south to highlight its colorful striations. Obviously, different times of the day will offer very diverse opportunities for photography. We visited the wave in the mid-morning which did not appear to be ideal but still made for some interesting shots.
Directions to the Wave: From the visitor center you must follow the Scenic Drive. Once you reach the Rainbow Vista parking area, drive all the way through Rainbow Vista. Near the end, just after you pass a big brown monolilth (Gibraltar Rock) on the right, the road turns left and you will see (parking lot #3) just ahead on your left. A new trailhead with a small sign that just says, “Wave”, is now located directly across from the parking area. This new trailhead adds a little more distance to the hike, making it about 1-1/4 miles R/T. The original trailhead was off the road just south of Gibraltar Rock.
(Fig. 10)
The Hike: From this new trailhead, the trail meanders east towards the base of Gibraltar Rock, (Fig.10) and then leads south and east around its southern tip to its back side (Fig. 11). It then leads somewhat parallel to Scenic Drive for about 1,500 feet in a south-southeast direction. Smaller than expected, it is somewhat indiscernible until you are literally on top of it so you might be doing a little bit of searching before you find it. Fortunately there are a few landmarks that make the place slightly easier to find. Towards the end you will be walking along a long flat ridge line with a slight incline. Directly ahead, you should see a large rock outcrop that looks somewhat like a closed fist (middle left of (Fig. 12). As you get closer, the ridgeline starts sloping downward until all of a sudden you are standing directly in front of the "Fire Wave" (Fig. 13).
(Fig. 11)
(Fig. 12)
(Fig. 13)
While (Figs. 14 & 15) provide you with a close-up of this intriguing rock formation, (Figs. 16-18) give you an idea of what some of the surrounding landscape looks like.
(Fig. 14)
(Fig. 15)
(Fig. 16)
(Fig. 17)
(Fig. 18)
Paragraph divider_thumb[2]