Today we returned to the area of the hike we did yesterday, and we joined our friends John & Pam for a little off-trail hiking in the colorful rocks of Valley of Fire State Park. There are few restrictions on where you can hike, and we took advantage of the opportunity.
The plan was to hike the first two thirds of the loop hike we did yesterday and then return via a different route. Well, we did that, but not quite in the order we intended.
We went through two small slot canyons, encountered a nesting hummingbird, and enjoyed views of multi-colored rocks in every direction. Another gorgeous day in Valley of Fire State Park.
We started from Parking Area 3 on the White Domes Road (aka Mouse's Tank Road).
We walked to the right of the Jeep and took the wash down from the parking lot.
Here are a couple of the thousands of small natural arches in Valley of Fire.
Here we are admiring the views and deciding which southbound wash to follow.
We chose a different route than yesterday morning, and it was a bit easier. It also blessed us with brilliant colors.
It wasn't a difficult hike at all, but we all appreciated having our hiking boots with the rocks, prickly bushes, and hot sand.
Looking to our right, we saw these orange-striped rocks ....
and we exited the wash to get a closer look.
On the back side of those rocks, we realized we were above the White Domes Loop Trail that we hiked a few days ago. The remnants of a hacienda built for a movie were below us.
We climbed down the back side ....
and entered the wash that connects to the White Domes Trail. But we went in the opposite direction (east) through a nice little slot canyon.
Exiting the slot, there were some Desert Willows in bloom and this hummingbird was hanging out. She was feeding and also seemed to be acting as a sentry.
Linda, with her keen eyes, spotted a tiny nest in the branches. And holding a camera up above, we were able to determine there were a pair of eggs.
Once we saw the eggs, we moved away quickly and it wasn't long before she flew in and settled on her nest.
It's always a special treat to see a hummingbird on a nest.
Just past the hummer was another small slot canyon.
Linda & I found that one yesterday, so we knew we were close to intersecting with the wash we went down yesterday and the larger east-west wash that will take us to the road.
We went around another stand of Desert Willows with another hummingbird feeding on the flowers, and then on into the big wash.
The lighting was better today on these unusual patterns in the rocks.
Just before crossing the road, we encountered this male Costa's Hummingbird feeding.
Crossing the road, we entered the beginning of the short, but lovely, Pastel Canyon which isn't on any of the official park maps.
We actually like this area better than the much more famous Fire Wave that's about a quarter mile away.
Once through the short, narrow canyon, we took a hard right and walked up above to get the same fantastic view we had yesterday.
Just to the right of the above view was the view of the Pastel Canyon slot from above.
We then returned down to the wash and retraced our route back through the little canyon.
We crossed back over the road and followed the route we took down yesterday back up to the parking area.
Exiting the pink and yellow rock canyon.
And returning up the final wash to the parking lot.
Though we did most of today's hike yesterday, we took a bit different route, we started a little later so the lighting was different, there were a few clouds, and we covered some beautiful terrain we didn't see the day before. And we saw very few people on this Sunday, Mother's Day, when the park was very crowded in the popular areas.
We covered a couple of miles, and it was reasonably easy hiking. Below is a map that pretty well mirrors our route.
This is not an officially designated hike in Valley of Fire, and the "trail" isn't maintained, so if you attempt this route or something similar, you do so at your own risk.
Be sure to have proper shoes, plenty of water, a compass and/or GPS, and as long as you have a good sense of direction and pay attention to your surroundings and location, you should have no problems.
We look forward to a future return to Valley of Fire to do some more "off-trail" hiking to see what other hidden gems we might discover.