I jumped back in to the CX-9. The road was still wavy and the rocks began to change colors. The red sandstone was interwoven with white sandstone as I got closer to my next stop at White Domes. The road came to an end, and the sandstone turned white but remained an amazing sight. I opted to skip the hiking trail around white dome and headed back down to the main highway. It was getting late and there where two other spots I wanted to see in the park.
Once back on the highway, I continued east on the 168 and the rocky hillsides opened up to a large desert valley. As I looped around the edge of the hills, seven large red sandstone formations lined the highway -- the "Seven Sisters." When cross-country travel became popular in the early 1950s, adventurers coming from the east were greeted by these large formations as they entered the park. A handful of travelers came through the park back then, but now it has over 200,000 visitors a year.
Just beyond the Seven Sisters, I passed Lone Rock (the name speaks for itself) and made a left down a gravel road following the signs to the Cabins. High on the mountainside are three little one-room cabins built of native sandstone. These cabins were built for passing travelers who crossed this valley in the 1930s. The thought of people using these cabins for shelter as they made their way west is just amazing. There's history in these hills and I was leaving my footprint in the dirt that's been traveled by millions before me.
Photo courtesy of Evan Klein.
As the sun began to set, I dusted of my shoes and got back into the SUV. I decided not to turn back and exit the way I came in. I left the gravel road and continued east on the 168. Off to the right side of the road, I saw a white cross dedicated to a pioneer named Captain John J. Clark. His story is rather sad but typical of that that time. It's told that Clark was making his way west when he decided to stop and rest. He tied up his horse and sat to rest -- and there he died of thirst.
A few hundred yards from the John J. Clark monument, the 168 takes a sharp turn north and I drove through the town of Overton. This small town is a product of the early years of American travel, when little villages boomed along roadsides before large Interstates where built. Overton is one of the few boom towns that remains alive and growing along this old route. Old rusty cars in barns and horses running in green fields dotted the highway until I reached the I-15 some thirty-minutes after leaving the state park.
I was again on the open Interstate heading south back into Las Vegas. Night had fallen and thick clouds had rolled in from the west. I was miles from Vegas, but could see the city lights glowing as I got closer. I passed through Vegas and watched lightning in the distance. It grew closer as I kept west. With my cruise control set again, I braced myself for a long and wet drive home to California.
For more information about this location, call Valley of Fire State Park at (702) 397-2088.