Golden Gate Photo - Valley of Fire Gallery
Fine Art Photography from Valley of Fire State Park in Southern Nevada.


Located about 40 miles (65 Km) east-northeast of Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park is the oldest state park in Nevada, established in 1935. Its name is a reference to the Aztec Formation, a Jurassic-age sandstone containing bands of bright red iron oxide. Deposited as shifting sands in a 150 to 180 million year old desert, the sand dunes were buried and petrified into sandstone beds with large-scale cross-bedding, indicative of sand dune formation. Beginning 65 million years ago, regional uplift and mountain-building began the gradual process of eroding the overlying deposits, eventually re-exposing the ancient desert in the new one. The Aztec Formation can also be seen at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area west of Las Vegas.

Iron-Stained Sandstone

Iron-Stained Sandstone

Here in the White Domes portion of the park, these thin sandstone beds appear to twist, but actually are tilted beds following the contours of the ground surface. Various oxides, mostly of iron and manganese, create the stained bands. The bands are typically independent of bedding direction, suggesting that the prehistoric groundwater that flowed through these beds were not deterred by (rerouted along) the bedding planes.

Print No. A99-64-1

Sandstone Arch

Sandstone Arch

Also in the White Domes portion of the park, this 5-foot (1.5-meter) tall arch is no match for the arches of Arches National Park in Utah, but demonstrates the same general physical processes.

Print No. A99-64-7

Sandstone Spire and Moon

Sandstone Spire and Moon

Taken from the Group Use area, this completely iron-stained sandstone spire sharply contrasts with the gray limestone cliffs of the Muddy Mountains to the south of the park. That's a crescent moon hanging in the sky.

Print No. A99-64-9

Sandstone with Limestone Cobbles

Sandstone with Limestone Cobbles

What's interesting here is the thin line of gray limestone cobbles along a depression between sandstone bedding planes. These cobbles are among the last local remnants of the massive outcrops of limestone that at one time covered the Aztec Sandstone. Not because the limestone was deposited on top of the sandstone, but the older limestone was thrust over the younger sandstone along the Keystone Thrust Fault.

Print No. A99-64-6

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