Trail Hikes in Vegas and Joshua Tree

After a weekend in Vegas, we soaked up more of the desert heat with a few days of hiking. Read about our trail hikes in the Valley of Fire and Joshua Tree.

I gave my bridesmaids 3 choices 1.5 years ago on where they’d like to go for my Bachelorette trip and it was no surprise they picked Vegas (very unlike me, which is kind of why it was perfect for me too).

One (of very few, I swear) of my demands was to soak in the desert heat with a few days of hiking. We all love the outdoors and I couldn’t leave Nevada without seeing its geography – and never having visited California, and it being SO close, I set my eyes on Joshua Tree.

Valley of Fire National Park, Nevada

Valley of Fire National Park Valley of Fire National Park

We drove about an hour from the Vegas strip, north east to Valley of Fire National Park. From the moment we entered the park, we got real excited. Giant red sandstone formations had our necks on swivels until we got to our first stop in the park: White Domes Trail.

Valley of Fire National Park: White Domes Trail

Valley of Fire National Park Valley of Fire National Park

Valley of Fire National Park: White Domes Trail Valley of Fire National Park: White Domes Trail

This trail was pretty much a playground for me. I had too much fun running up and scaling down the giant rocks, made friends risk their lives for the gram (just kidding, we were all very safe and didn’t stand too close to edges) – I even got to experience a walk through a mini Antelope Canyon that satisfied my craving for a trip to Arizona… until next year.

Valley of Fire National Park Valley of Fire National Park

Valley of Fire National Park: Slot Canyon Valley of Fire National Park: Slot Canyon

We could have spent much longer than an hour here, but on a tight schedule and with half the group having to catch a flight that evening, we headed to the other side of the park, to see the Fire Wave.

Like the first trail, our hike to see the Fire Wave started out sandy (poor Mary had on Flyknit Racers, aka, socks with holes, and had to periodically empty her shoe). After walking just 20 minutes or so on what felt like Mars, we reached the Fire Wave – its given name is pretty obvious, and at sunset, this valley turns a fiery red, like a Fire Wave.

Valley of Fire National Park: Fire Wave Valley of Fire National Park: Fire Wave

Valley of Fire National Park: Fire Wave Valley of Fire National Park: Fire Wave

The weather was really on our side – we started our hike in the late afternoon, around 3PM and though it was still hot, it was an overcast day and a dry heat so we had no complaints. Dominique and I both had 2L hydration packs, and we all had Cliff Bars to keep us going. Most of us managed well with running shoes – Dominique brought her hiking shoes, which definitely kept the sand out, but with the trails being short and relatively easy, we managed perfectly with what we had!

Valley of Fire National Park Valley of Fire National Park

We finished our hike at around 7PM, took one last full group photo before splitting up – half of the team heading back to Toronto, and the other driving south to Joshua Tree.

Valley of Fire National Park Valley of Fire National Park

Valley of Fire

Joshua Tree National Park, California

This portion of the trip was meant for complete relaxation, so we didn’t do anything too strenuous in terms of hikes – we set out on our first full day in Joshua Tree into the park at around 5pm (it was much too hot during the day), and checked out the Cholla Cactus Garden, and Arch Rock Trail.

Joshua Tree National Park, Cholla Cactus Gardens Joshua Tree National Park, Cholla Cactus Gardens

Reminiscent of a walk through a botanical garden, the Cholla Cactus Garden has a fenced off little loop, a short few minutes around it if you don’t stop. Along with the Joshua Trees, Cholla cacti start popping up in the Mojave as you head south from Vegas. They’re surprisingly sharp (we had to literally pull some out of Denise’s shoes after she stepped on a fallen bunch on the trail).

After spending about 20 minutes here (taking photos, really examining how weird these cacti were), we got back into the car and drove another 10 minutes to Arch Rock Trail.

Joshua Tree, Skull Rock Trail Joshua Tree, Skull Rock Trail

The start of the trail is actually a campsite – there were tons of campers parked, fire’s were getting started, and it made us a little envious we weren’t spending the night camping ourselves. This trail is also flat and leads you around the rock formations for about 1 mile.

Joshua Tree National Park, Arch Rock Trail Joshua Tree National Park, Arch Rock Trail

Joshua Tree National Park, Arch Rock Trail Joshua Tree National Park, Arch Rock Trail

We adventured a little off the path to get a better look at the Arch, eventually got lost for a hot minute, which turned into a blessing as we got to see the sky turn into cotton candy.

Joshua Tree National Park, Arch Rock Trail Joshua Tree National Park, Arch Rock Trail

Joshua Tree National Park, Arch Rock Trail Joshua Tree National Park, Arch Rock Trail

Once the sun went down it got surprisingly cold, real fast. We decided to come back, with more layers, the next evening for some star gazing (and with Pioneer Cups to drink our red wine out of). I was really hoping to see the milky way – it’s one of the best spots for this, but the moon was so close and so bright that evening, it was impossible to see. It was still a lovely evening.

Joshua Tree National Park, Arch Rock Trail - Star Gazing Joshua Tree National Park, Arch Rock Trail – Star Gazing

Thinking of a desert hikes and evening star gazing? Here’s a few nice-to-have’s I recommend packing:

* This post is sponsored by Mountain Equipment Co-op, and all thoughts/opinions/words written are genuinely mine


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