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January 21, 2004

ALONG THE WAY: White Dome Trail


This is David Bert with another stop Along the Way.

Jennifer Finlen, Park Ranger- I like this trail because it has just a wide variety of things.

Valley of Fire Park Ranger Jennifer Finlen knows that in this land of great hiking opportunities the newly designated White Dome trail stands out as one of the most beautiful and diverse trails within the Park. That beauty is in evidence the moment you begin the hike down the trail where you'll see plenty of the bright red rocks that Valley of Fire is known for.

Jennifer Finlen, Park Ranger- That's true. That's how it got its name. But here in particular the different colors come into play. You have all of the different reds and purples and yellows and oranges and pinks. Colors that you would never expect to find on a trail such as this. You come around the top of this hill and it's just beautiful. It takes your breath.

The first quarter mile is full of the colorful vistas that you expect to see here in Nevada's first state park, but at the bottom of the hill you'll find something that is completely unexpected.

Jennifer Finlen, Park Ranger- This was left just kind of as a reminder, and as an interpretive tool for the trail. Now when we have commercial photography out here all they leave are footprints. They take out everything.

Although there are over 45 commercial photo shoots every year in the park this is the only place where you'll see any remnants. Back in 1965 'The Professionals' starring Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin was filmed here. One of the walls of the cantina set, complete with bullet holes, still remains. Opposite the wall is an interpretive sign that gives a brief description of the history, past and future, of filming here at Valley of Fire. This is the only sign on the trail, but there is another way to learn more about the trail.

Jennifer Finlen, Park Ranger- That's correct. We just finished a brochure that you can pick up at the visitor's center. In that brochure there's a detailed map with descriptions of various points along the trail.

This relatively easy trail is only about 1 1/4 mile in length and you could complete it in about half an hour. But why would you want to? As you continue the hike you'll enter a wash just a few yards away from the movie set. You really should take the time to look around here. The shorter walls of the wash are basically cross-sections of the sandstone. They look like those sand paintings you can buy in southwestern gift shops. Except this is nature's artwork. If this were in a museum you wouldn't run through it. So why not stop and ponder the beauty here. Other subtle geologic formations above you are also in evidence. So take your time and look around. Then, less than a hundred yards into the wash you come to a feature that you won't have to look hard to find.

Jennifer Finlen, Park Ranger- At its narrowest point it's 17 inches, and also it's 75 feet high. So if you can get a picture of that it's absolutely beautiful. And I think this slot canyon is a perfect example of the effects erosion has on our park.

This slot canyon isn't very long, but it twists and turns in such a way that you can never see both the entrance and the exit at the same time. Because of that it has a mystery and magnificence well beyond its size. Take some time to explore this slot canyon. As you walk back and forth you'll notice it has very different looks depending upon which direction you're heading. As a matter of fact, if you have the time, try exploring everything here. You never know what kind of treasure might be lurking just off the trail.

Jennifer Finlen, Park Ranger... As you exit the slot canyon if you take a left there's a narrow trail. It's just a short jaunt up the hill and it will lead you to a beautiful arch that will be on your right-hand side. It just takes you breath away. You have this massive slab of rock on both sides and right in between there's this arch. It's pretty small, but it's neat. It's not where you'd think it would be 'cause it's kind of in the middle of nowhere. Just the different spirals and the colors throughout it are beautiful.

Talk about jam-packed. We've only hiked half the trail. There are still so many beautiful things that we have yet to see and discover. Just to the right as you exit the slot canyon is a section of rock that in the afternoon sun has such beautiful and colorful cross bedding that it's almost impossible to describe. And as you continue on the trail you'll see many other colorful formations. Some small and intimate others of massive proportions. And lets not forget the plants and animals. As you move into more open ground plants will start to appear in greater number, and in the spring when they bloom they will wage a mighty battle with the geology for best of show. All this and you're still not back to your car. I know they say that hiking the White Dome trail at Valley of Fire will only take about half an hour, but for the life of me, I can't imagine how they do it.

See discussion rules.


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