Boondocking Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire State Park in southern Nevada is a wonderful stop for lovers of desert scenery and petroglyphs, but I did not stay at the campgrounds in the park. Instead, I boondocked at an area a few miles outside, that’s listed on many of the free camping websites…

I had previously stayed on the other side of the park at Stewart’s Point in the Lake Mead National Recreation area. The campgrounds inside Valley of Fire are quite popular, and they were full each time I checked for an opening. I was looking for a spot to park for a few days that had good cell signal, where I’d spend Thanksgiving day.

The road into the boondocking area is not signed, but it is framed with large rocks on either side of it. There is a wash just prior to the turn (coming from I-15 to the west) that has wheel tracks in it that you might mistake for the road, and it is passable, but it is not a road.

The actual road was in good condition and passable by any vehicle. There were a couple of spots where you needed to pay attention to avoid a hole, but nothing surprising. The closest turnout you could camp at is less than a quarter mile from the turn, and a wide spot that can handle six or so campers a little bit farther. As you continue down the road, there are more turnouts and a fork in the road where the softer right branch reconnects with the main track a quarter mile away. Beyond that, there is a flat area surrounded by piles of some kind of mining tailings, and further trails branching out to other usable spots.

I stayed in the turnout that is pinned on the map above. It was a little busy with traffic going up and down the road, but not enough to trouble me. Many of the other spots allow for wider spacing. There was not much traffic, but there were a couple of camps that I assumed were hunting camps, with guys going in and out in UTVs and quads. I only heard a few gunshots in the week I was there.

There is a fireworks shop at the gas station at the Crystal off ramp over at I-15 though, and there were regular booms at night with people firing off their new purchases. I actually found an angry review of the truck stop on Google from a driver who complained about not being able to sleep from the fireworks noise! It was far enough off to not bother me, and I didn’t notice any bangs late at night.

The immediate area isn’t particularly interesting to hike, but I was curious about what the mining process was that scarred up the area. Somebody spent plenty of money on diesel fuel to bulldoze star-shaped tracks across many of the hillsides in the area.

The state park is only a few miles away and well worth the $10 gate fee to go and explore the red rock trails and spectacular formations.

The gas station / truck stop at the interstate is usefully close and they do have propane. The closest dump station is at a Loves truck stop 22.4 miles south from Crystal.

Overall, I rate this spot pretty highly if your primary goal is to have good cell service for work, while being close to necessities and a few interesting places to visit. North Las Vegas is a little more than a half hour down the road.

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