Saturday, January 4, 2014

White Domes & Fire Wave - Valley of Fire State Park - 1/4/14

From Fire Wave to Wave Wall

Valley of Fire Colors

White Domes

Descending at White Domes
Today's later morning hike took club members up to the Valley of Fire State Park. After meeting, we drove north on I-15 to exit #75 (Valley of Fire) then continued out the two lane road to the park. Our second meeting place was the Valley of Fire Visitors' Center where we stopped for use of the restroom facilities. Our next and final stop was the end of the scenic drive which the park calls Mouse's Tank Road. This is the trailhead for the White Domes Trail. The weather was absolutely gorgeous! No wind and temperatures in the sixties! It just doesn't get any better than this! (Although, the rest of the country has our deepest sympathies right now with the unbelievably cold temperatures that they are experiencing.  ...Hop on a plane! We are always here!)

We started up the sand at the end of the parking lot to hit our high point right away, then descended down the sandy steps through the wash that is surrounded by huge, light colored, domed rock hills.

White Domes
 At the bottom of the hill, there stands part of an old movie set used for the movie "The Professionals" which was filmed around 1965. There is signage there where we all gathered.

"The Professionals" Movie Set

Hiking Through the Small Slot Canyons Wash
We dropped into the wash that flowed perpendicular to the trail we came down and turned left. Immediately, we began hiking through small slot canyons surrounded by pastel colored rock. It was quickly obvious that much water had come through the wash in the last year. There was a lot more sand and rocks within the wash. In fact, it appeared that the floor level had risen approximately 1 to 2 feet in many places. Some of the most interesting floor formations were buried.

Small Slot Canyons
 When our wash emptied out on the scenic drive, we crossed the road and continued into the small slot on the other side. Right after exiting that slot, we turned to our left where the sandstone was friendly to a climb and went up.

Top of Sandstone Wash

Dropping Into Sandstone Wash
 We climbed up and over the sandstone while noticing the colors beginning to become more vibrant. Pinks and yellows joined in with the reds, oranges and whites. We dropped into a wash on the other side that was, for the most part, solid sandstone slab. For some of the hikers, today, this was their first experience trusting those sticky hiking boot soles on the rock. Easy does it! The wash was a good test for beginner scramblers. As we stood at the doorway to the colorful Fire Wave area, we took our group photo.

Group Shot in Sandstone Wash
 From the sandstone wash, we circled around to the left and took in the Wave Wall then wandered around the wide open space until we landed for our break on the Fire Wave itself.

Snack Break at the Fire Wave

Photo from Colorful View Hill
 The Fire Wave area has many properties that the original "Wave" in Utah has. Although "The Wave" in Utah is one of a kind unbelievable, the Fire Wave area holds its own as seen in some of the photos entered here. We enjoyed a leisurely break then continued by dropping back into the nearby small slot canyons wash that had brought us from White Domes. At this point, a deviation from the original route plan was made in order to avoid some of the deep sand in the slot canyons.

Photo from Colorful View Hill
 We climbed up the sandstone on the other side of the wash and made our way easily over to a gentle solid rock hill. When we looked up, the colors, again, were ... well ... gorgeous. Many photos were taken from this hill toward the Fire Wave area.

Hiking Up Colorful View Hill

Returning via Small Slot Canyons Wash
 We wandered around on the top of the sandstone looking for an easy way back down to the wash and road crossing. With one long switchback, we found a great descent, then crossed the road and returned to the movie set through the wash. At the movie set, we continued in the wash junctioning with the continuation of the White Domes Trail. The next point of interest was the very tall slot canyon that brings the hiker to the other side of the White Domes. We turned right on the maintained trail and began to climb.

Exiting One of the Small Slot Canyons
 The climb leveled out quickly and we found ourselves in yet another colorful area.

Exiting the Tall Slot Canyon

Hiking Up the Back Side of the White Domes Trail
This side of the White Domes Trail gives the visitor a taste of the red sandstone found in much of the park on the left side of the trail while continuing with the pink, yellow and purple theme on the right. The easy hike led us past a large window in the rock to the right so photos were required. From there, we hiked between rock walls out to the road just below where we parked our cars.

Statistics: 3.5 miles; 800 feet of elevation gain; and does it really matter how long it took us!?

White Domes Trail Colors

Window on White Domes Trail

Wave Wall

Elevation Chart Without Colorful View Hill Detour

Elevation Chart With Colorful View Hill Detour

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