The wind blows fiercely at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada where red Aztec sandstone outcroppings rise out of earth-tone limestone. Stepping out of the car for a quick photo, the air buffets my face, and it is easy to see how the constant wind has carved caves into the rocks.
Valley of Fire sits on 40,000 acres about 45 minutes northeast of Las Vegas. It is an easy detour off Interstate 15, between Sin City and Zion National Park in Utah. Travelers can drive through or stop for a picnic or hike.
The park features petrified trees and petroglyphs over 2,000 years old, and the layers of rock look like the stony waves of a Martian landscape.
A favorite photo opp is Rainbow Vista, a wide spot at the top of a ridge with views of a colorful valley. Bands of orange, yellow, tan, and white rocks and sand, deposited ages ago when the oceans retreated, are dotted by green-gray brush.
On this spring day, the earthy tones are contrasted by a wide canvas of azure sky, streaked with thin white clouds.
It is a welcome escape to another world before returning to the city.