Introduction: What is the Seven Sisters Valley of Fire State Park?
The Seven Sisters Valley of Fire State Park is located in the Mojave Desert of southern Nevada, about 60 miles (96 km) from Las Vegas. The flora and fauna are typical of that region; desert vegetation such as creosote bush, blackbrush, and scrubby juniper share the landscape with cacti. The area is also home to a variety of birds, including phainopepla, roadrunner, and the desert spiny lizard. The park is named after several rock formations that resemble the “seven sisters” in a Mayan legend. Seven Sisters State Park was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1994 and listed as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1998.
Valley of Fire is a popular destination for both amateur and professional photographers who are drawn to the area’s vivid colors and contrasting textures. In addition to assisting photographers, the park has a twelve-site campground, paved roads, and interpretive programs.
Valley of Fire is one of Nevada’s oldest state parks. It was established on January 16, 1935; it was originally called Valley of Fire State Park. It was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1994 and listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998.
Valley of Fire State Park is approximately 60 miles (96 km) south of Las Vegas, Nevada. The park covers an area of acre (1.6 km), and it lies within the Owens Valley portion of the Mojave Desert. The park is managed by the Nevada Division of State Parks and Recreation, part of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DOCARE) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It is one of eleven Nevada state parks proposed for closure in 2011 by Governor Jim Gibbons as part of a deficit reduction effort. After local outcry, the governor reversed his decision and no sites were closed in 2011.
What’s New at Seven Sisters Valley of Fire State Park in 2018?
In addition to camp sites, a new hiking trail was constructed in 2018 – the Old Spanish Trail (OST) Trail from parking lot #1 to Silver Peak. This is the newest, and most popular trail in the park. The OST Trail is 1.5 miles long and is a beautiful hike through open desert landscapes with eroded sandstone formations, colorful rock art, petroglyphs and pictographs left by Native Americans in their pursuit of wild food. The Old Spanish Trail encompasses six rock shelters for overnight stays where you can explore the history and more of this ancient culture that thrived here before Europeans trod these sands with their horses and wagons.
The hiking trail is offered in two mile, three mile and 6 mile round-trip configurations. There are three switchbacks past Silver Peak, which is the highest point of the park at nearly . The trail descends 1,500 feet to the valley floor and offers stunning views of valley of fire from the top of Silver Peak. To get to the trailhead, take the Valley of Fire Scenic Parkway south from Lake Mead. The Old Spanish Trail trail is located just beyond the first parking lot. Trailheads are marked with black rock pylons and signs. Please no bikes or motorized vehicles on this trail.
The History Behind the Seven Sisters Wilderness Area
The Valley of Fire was the site of a prehistoric lake, Lake Bonneville, that stretched across much of western Nevada. Wave action and wind carved out the distinctive shapes in what is now known as the Valley of Fire; “The Great Stone Mother”, a large stone monolith at the northwest end, is said by Paiute legend to be the body of a “stone woman” captured by the sun spirit and transformed into rock.
Since its discovery in 1859, the valley has been a special place to many. To Frémont’s men, the Seven Sisters seemed to be a symbol of hope and triumph as they pressed eastward; they were later named after Mary Ethel Middleton of Nevada City and her sister. A Paiute legend tells how these rocks came to be. In the beginning, the Great Mother was alone in this land. She gave birth to seven daughters, who were part of her own body. The Great Mother loved her daughters, and she guarded them carefully. One day she decided to go off and leave her seven daughters alone in this land. The daughters were afraid and asked their mother not to leave them, but the Great Mother was determined, so she left anyway.
Visiting the Seven Sisters Wilderness Area by Foot or by Car?
When hiking in the Valley of Fire, it is considered essential to visit the Visitors Center. There the visitor can get information, maps, and hiking advice from a park employee. It is highly recommended that visitors wear sturdy shoes because of sharp rocks and cacti on trails. Since there are no marked trails in the Valley of Fire Wilderness Area, visitors are advised to stay on the trail because they can get lost in the sand. Park rangers request that visitors not drive faster than 15 miles per hour within the wilderness area. Although hiking is the primary activity in the Valley of Fire Wilderness Area, others may use the area for camping.
The Seven Sisters Wilderness Area is located to the east of Las Vegas. The sanctuary was originally named after seven mountains called “sisters” that were formed by a volcanic eruption. The volcano that formed the Seven Sisters Wilderness Area subsequently became extinct, but left its mark on thousands of meteorites and cinder cones when it erupted approximately 12,000 years ago.
The Seven Sisters Wilderness Area lies in a region that was once the ancestral home of the Sinabora, who lived 700 miles Northwest of Las Vegas. The Sinabora lived by a floodplain, where the valleys were filled with water. The area was subsequently inundated when the Omineca Sea covered the entire valley. This inundation left thick layers of sedimentary deposits from seven volcanoes, which formed an unusual landscape with valleys and mountain ranges influenced by erosion.
How to Plan Your Thorough Day in Oregons Most Intense Natural Experience on Earth
Each of these oil wells has left behind a distinct, yet similar, feature. These features are referred to as “oil stain” for the pale yellow to beige color and general shape of the feature. These stains range in size from a few inches across to dozens of feet across. The general shape is often round or elliptical and may be lined by stone slabs or concrete platforms. Some of these features are impossible to trace and may be located underneath the sand and gravel used by the road commission to build the road.
Each oil well’s “oil stain” is unique because each oil well was drilled at a different depth, had a different drilling angle, and was completed with a different type of casing. The surface is not flat but gently undulating, as if waves were racing across it.
The stones in this driveway were placed by Leonard Echtermann in 1951. For more than 50 years, he has been walking the area with flashlights, looking for places to buy stones and create the driveway. He has found “rock roads” all over the West, most of which are beginning to be paved or used as walking or bicycle pathways.