itinerary feature

Looking to switch up your weekend and see some new places? I took three days out of my schedule to do some exploring along the Arizona/Nevada border. I started the trip from the Phoenix area so the estimated drive times are from there. We hit Valley of Fire State Park and the Hoover Dam, spending a full day at both of them!

Valley of Fire State Park


Hoover Dam

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Day 1

Check in: North Shore Inn at Lake Mead

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Day 2

Valley of Fire State Park

Hikes: White Domes Loop, Fire Wave - continued on to Seven Wonders Loop, Fire Canyon Overlook/Silica Dome, Rainbow Vista, Petrified Logs Loop, Elephant Rock

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Day 3

Hoover Dam

Take the Historic Railroad Trail to see the Hoover Dam for free!

Day 1

Driving day

Drive to your chosen hotel. We stayed at North Shore Inn at Lake Mead which was only a 20 minute drive over to our first destination, Valley of Fire State Park. From the Phoenix area, driving to the hotel is about a 5:30 drive, so we got in pretty late. We waited to eat dinner until we got to the hotel, which if you’re getting in late I wouldn’t recommend. 

 Being located within a small town our only option was hitting the McDonald’s drive through. Along the way, to break up the drive, we drove to Lake Pleasant and walked around a bit. We got the chance to get up close to some donkeys!

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Day 2

Valley of Fire State Park

We spent the entire day enjoying my absolute favorite state park. The daily entry fee is $15 for non-Nevada residents, and $10 for residents. We explored the area from the second we checked out until the park closed at sunset. There’s so much to do here and see, I recommend setting aside a full day to explore. Every inch of the park is covered in beautiful desert terrain, it’s like you can be looking at some vibrant red rocks, and turn the corner and be surrounded on both sides by a pastel pink slot canyon. Everything here is so different that no matter how many hikes you do, the scenery will be different.

My favorite trail was Rainbow Vista, but we drove in from the East Entrance up to the end of White Domes Road. From there we made our way down hitting our chosen hikes. 

Here’s the trails we did and in what order (working down White Domes Road, going to the West Entrance Side, then heading back out the East Entrance). 

  1. White Domes Loop
  2. Fire Wave – continued on to Seven Wonders Loop
  3. Fire Canyon Overlook/Silica Dome
  4. Rainbow Vista
  5. Petrified Logs Loop
  6. Elephant Rock 
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After hiking those trails and taking as many photos as I could of the Desert Bighorn Sheep, we headed over to hotel number two, Boulder Dam Hotel (about a 1:15 hour drive).

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Day 3

Hoover Dam

After checking out of our hotel we ate at the Cornish Pasty Co then drove to the Hoover Dam. We wanted to see the Dam for free so our first stop was the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. Then we checked out the Lake Mead Overlook, before heading over to hike the Historic Railroad Trail.

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We parked for free in the lot connected to the Hoover Dam Lodge Hotel and Casino by the Hoover Dam Lodge Trailhead. It was 8 miles out and back through these historic tunnels to get to the Hoover Dam. We explored the area around the dam, went inside the Visitors Center, took some pictures, and then headed back on the trail to get to our car. 

After our hike we drove a little over 4 hours back to get back to the Phoenix area!

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