The Pinnacles trail is an easy to moderate unmaintained trail accessible from within the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. The trailhead starts at Atlatl Rock and proceeds toward a distant outcrop of white sandstone. This is one of the longer hikes in the park and there are only a few trail markers to help you find your way through the dry washes around the ridge to the northwest and into view of the Pinnacles. A good portion of the hike takes you through loose sand and gravel and there is some minor scrambling through the formation itself in order to complete the middle part of the hike.
The scenery, however, rewards the hiker for their efforts. The Pinnacles formation is not visible from the road and only comes into view as you round the southern edge of a ridge of darker gray green rock. If you are lucky enough to start the hike in the morning with the sun roughly behind you, the Pinnacles will appear to be on fire. Along the trail you'll see an abundance of barrel and other cacti and, in spring, many wildflowers including primrose, dusty-maiden, desert larkspur, strawberry hedgehog, winterfat and many others.
The Valley of Fire State Park is Nevada's oldest state park, dedicated in 1935. Driving between Mesquite and Las Vegas along I-15 within the desert basin and range, it's easy to miss the two exits that take you to the east and west entrances to the park. Or, you might imagine from the surrounding desert that "Valley of Fire" means "hotter than Hades" and decide to pass.
If you passed by, you'd be missing some spectacular red sandstone formations, fossilized sand dunes from the time of the dinosaurs, 150 million years ago. On a sunny day as well as at sunrise and sunset, they glow like fire. Hence, the name, Valley of Fire. The red rock of the western part of the park shows in bright contrast against the grays and green browns of the darker sedimentary rock of the older Muddy Mountains. The eastern end of the park, including the road to White Domes, offers a vast spread of sandstone of all hues.
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