Rainbow Vista & Fire Canyon Overlook Trails - Summary Page

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This page last updated on 05/20/2017

Directions: If you arrive from the east, from the intersection of Route 169 and 167 near Lake Mead, drive west on the Valley of Fire Highway for two miles to the park’s east entrance. Then drive another 3.3 miles to the intersection of the the start of White Domes Road in front of the park's Visitor Center. Turn right off the main Valley of Fire road and go a tenth of a mile and bear left to stay on White Domes Road, bypassing the visitor center. Drive another 1.8 miles to the Rainbow Vista Trailhead (Fig. 02), which is on the right 0.7 miles after the Petroglyph Canyon Trailhead. To reach the park from the west from Las Vegas, take Interstate 15 north for about 35 miles to exit 75 (signs for Valley of Fire State Park and Lake Mead National Recreation Area). At the end of the off-ramp, go southeast on Valley of Fire Highway. After 14.5 miles you reach the park’s west entrance. Drive another 3.5 miles and turn left, following a sign for the visitor center and Mouse’s Tank.
(Fig. 02)

(Fig. 02)

Hike DescriptionMy later research of this area has revealed that there seem to be two trails here; the Rainbow Vista loop trail, and a continuing trail referred to as either the Fire Canyon or Fire Canyon Overlook Trail. Veering to the left from the trailhead, you end up going through a large wide open sandy area, you come to a junction. Turning left takes you to the Rainbow Vista loop trail. This trail takes you up about 75 feet to the high-point of the hike; a viewpoint on a crest that provides some outstanding views. Heading slightly to the right at the junction, the trail ends at Fire Canyon Overlook, which presents views over the sandstone-covered landscapes to the south and east. Hiking both of these trails is about 1.5 miles with a elevation change of 150 feet.

05/18/2017 Trip Notes:  Today, Bob Croke, Blake Smith and I headed to Valley of Fire to hike the Rainbow Vista and Fire Canyon Overlook trails. It was a beautiful day in the low 80's with just a slight breeze. This time we hiked the Rainbow Vista trail that we had originally missed on our first visit back in 2016. Along with some great vistas, we got some nice pictures of horses, bighorn sheep, and lizards. Click her for pictures and a description of this hike ... Rainbow Vista & Fire Canyon Overlook Hike - Trip Notes for 05/18/2017.

09/09/2016 Trip NotesOn this day, Bob Croke, Ron Ziance and myself headed out to Valley of Fire to start the first of our end of summer hikes. If you drive a short distance north from the Trailhead for these two trails, you will get a great view of the valley known as Rainbow Vista (Fig. 01). If you look in the opposite direction, south from the parking lot, you get the view in (Fig. 02). The big surprise of the day was the spotting of eight Desert Bighorn Sheep grazing along the side of the road (Fig. 03). After getting off a couple of shots (Fig. 04), they decided to cross the road and climb up the hillside on the opposite side of the road (Fig. 05). In all my previous visits to this park, this is only the third time I seen any bighorns, and both the other sightings were only one or two at a time. Our hike description continues below (scroll down).
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
Hike continued: When leaving from the Rainbow Vista parking lot, the beginning of the trail is not very well marked. In fact the first marker had been knocked over and buried into the sand. Having not been here before, and not researched very well, we turned to the right, heading southeast. Though this appeared to be a well-worn path with hundreds of footprints in the sand, it was a misleading spur that dead-ended in a boxed canyon (Fig. 06). Obviously this direction had led many hikers to blow past the real trail and march up into this same dead end canyon. Working our way back from the boxed canyon Bob found a trail marker that pointed east towards Fire Canyon Overlook. Unfortunately, this was already east of the Vista Trail junction, causing us to miss the main 'Vista' trail. From here we headed down the sandy, rocky Fire Canyon trail that was surrounded on both sides with high red sandstone, patina covered cliffs (Figs. 07 through 09). Just before reaching the end of the trail, there was a small arch carved into one of the sandstone outcrops. I let Bob and Ron hike ahead while I climbed up the hillside so I could capture a picture of them through the opening (Fig. 10). Finally we reached the Fire Canyon Overlook and the end of the trail (Fig. 11). Standing on the edge of the rocky cliff, there was about a 100 foot drop looking down into the Fire Canyon Wash (Fig. 12 & 13). As we turned and headed back up the trail, you could see the opening of the small arch in the picture (Fig 14) from which I captured their picture in (Fig. 10). On the way back up the trail the sun was signing on the tan sandstone on the top of the red sandstone cliff-side on the north side of the trail (Fig. 15). When we finally got back to the actual junction of the two trails, we met some people who had just hiked up to the high point of the Rainbow Vista loop trail, but we decided that by then it was getting too hot for us to attempt it today. From what I have read, this portion of the trail had some of the best vistas and view of Rainbow Valley and the Silica Dome. We will definitely try this again on a future visit.
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)

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(Fig. 09)
(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11)
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(Fig. 14)
(Fig. 15)
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