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Valley of Fire is one of my favorite places in the American Southwest for landscape photography. It is full of arches, washes and colorful sandstone formations, many with delicately finned rock. In my opinion, it rivals the more famous spots in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument - the Wave, Coyote Buttes South and White Pocket. And it comes with several advantages. It is easily accessible by a regular car and only an hour north of Las Vegas. You don't need to compete for a permit to visit and, for a photographer, there are only a few recognizable features, a challenge that keen landscape photographers can relish for original and compelling compositions, both grand and intimate.
On this trip, I only had to wander a hundred meters or so from one of the designated parking areas to come upon this collection of multi-colored hills and ledges. I arrived at dawn when the contrast is subdued and the patterns and color graduations are more easily seen. I also like that the warm colors of the foreground rock are echoed in the background hill.
The park has a campground, and lodging is available in nearby Overton. Valley of Fire SP closes at sundown, but in my experience the rangers are tolerant of photographers and allow for a bit of dusk photography. Please be careful around the delicate finned formations. I’ve seen a lot of them damaged by careless visitors.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor