White Domes (VOF) - Trip Notes for 04/13/2016

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This page last updated on 06/15/2017
(Fig. 01)

(Fig. A)
 04/13/2016 Trip NotesThe trailhead to White Domes is located at the very end of White Domes Road (Fig. A), the most scenic road in the park. As many times as I have had lunch on previous park visits at the White Domes day use area with its picnic tables, bathrooms and kiosk describing the area’s history and geology, I never hiked this trail. As it turns out, this hike provides a little bit of everything. The picture in (Fig. 01) was the view from our picnic table during lunch. During the course of this 1.25 mile loop trail, there are dozens of great vistas, remnants of an old movie set, a short slot canyon and a picturesque stroll some of the most colorful desert found any where in the state. The views on this hike, with an elevation change of more than 150 feet, passes sandstone formations with many different shapes and colors making the White Domes Trail one of the best places to experience Valley of Fire's awesome beauty.

Hike Description: As the trail leads south out of the parking area, the first several hundred feet of the trail between tall sandstone formations, is filled with a super fine white sand and is the equivalent of walking at a beach (Fig. 02). After crossing a crest in the loose sand, you catch sight of a beautiful landscape to the south. Shortly, the trail will take you down several rocky steps as you descend over one hundred feet to a small valley containing the remains of an old movie set (Fig. 03). The picture in (Fig. 04) is about half-way down, looking back up to the start of the downward decent.

(Fig. 06) Click to Enlarge
Once you reach the  “ruins” a third of a mile from the start of the hike, you discover that the wall (made of stone with timbers and plaster) (Fig. 05) is actually a leftover movie set from a 1965 movie production. A sign explains that the fake ruins were used in the film, The Professionals, which also built a larger Mexican hacienda set (Fig. 06) at the site of the current White Domes Day Use Area. Valley of Fire State Park has been a filming location for lots of movies like Transformers, Casino, Total Recall, Star Trek: Generations, and Austin Powers.
Shortly after passing the old remains of the movie set, the trail continues south and immediately drops into Kaolin Wash. Follow the posted arrows and turn right up the bottom of the wash. You will approach a slot canyon to the west where the wash cuts into a solid wall of sandstone. Step into the slot canyon and the walls quickly come together, becoming a narrows. In places, the tall walls are just a few feet apart. Though it is only about 200 feet long, it gets almost no sunlight and is much cooler on hot day. (con't below)

(Fig. 02)
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)

(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)

Hike Description Continued: As you near the end, the canyon walls open up and you end up stepping out into a wide wash (Fig. 08). Suddenly, you’re in an open area again. The trail does not continue up the wash. Instead, you will turn right and hike up a gap between sandstone formations along the backside of some large rock fins that run north and south. After making this turn you hike up out of the wash and begin the final part of the hike loop that takes you out to the road just below the White Domes parking area. Over the next quarter mile, hiking uphill you hike on a well-marked trail through lots of interesting rock formations Fig. 09). In the end, the trail curves to the right and punches through a gap in the sandstone (Fig. 10). As you hike through this area you end up passing by some of the most unique, colorful sandstone in the park. The contrasting of the otherwise pure red rocks, mixed with strata of different, lighter colors - pink, orange, yellow and white in close proximity is amazing (Fig. 11). Hiking the course of the trail in spring, you will pass a variety of vivid, bright, wild flowers, budding cactus and yuccas' (Fig. 12). As you near the end of the hike (Fig. 13), up end walking up some short cement steps and turning right along the side of White Domes Road. Stick with the trail as it runs parallel to the road and quickly comes to an end at the north side of White Domes Day Use Area, opposite from where you began.

In summary, it is hard to imagine that so much beauty can be packed into this 1.2-mile hike. The kiosk at the trailhead explains that ... the Valley of Fire lies in the geologically complex transition zone between the colorful flat-layered rocks of the Colorado Plateau to the east and the broken and faulted limestone mountain ranges of the Basin and Range Province to the west. In these few square miles, an area of colorful rock layers has been exposed by erosion that has stripped away older layers that were pushed over these younger plateau rocks. The panel goes on to explain how sand dunes from a dry sea became sandstone that was then shaped over millions of years. Still today, the natural effects of rainwater, gravity, and wind continue to gradually sculpture the exposed sandstone into fantastic colorful shapes and forms. The geological diversity this hike offers should not be missed. I can't wait to hike it again.
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)
(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11)
(Fig. 12)

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Play a Slide Show
Clicking the picture-link below will open OneDrive in a new window and a folder containing 32 pictures taken a hike of White Domes. To view the show, click on the first picture in the folder and you will get the following menu bar:

Click the "Play slide show" will play a fullscreen window of the slide show.