Worth moving just for the photo op
Best Christmas Ever. On a last minute crazy impulse, we decided to hitch up and see if we could get a spot for one night in Valley of Fire for Christmas night. Richard has an app that shows how busy things are in parks and it looked like we just might have a shot. Worst case, we could simply come back because we’d already paid for that night at Echo Bay. And plan C or D could be to join the boondockers on Snowbird Mesa. So we had options and tried to maintain low expectations.
We waved farewell and Merry Christmas to Francois, grateful for the special time together, hitched up, dumped, and headed up to the park a little before 11. Again, our fears were unwarranted and we found the Arch Rock Campground to be all but vacant. We had our choice of sites and picked a beauty, right up against the red rocks. I got in my fill of taking pictures of Dory, and then we spent the rest of the day on the trails.
Understandably popular location for filming
First we tried the White Domes trail. This is at the end of the road that runs through the most spectacular part of the park. When we passed through here a few years back, it was during the summer and it was just a one nighter for us, so we hadn’t even seen that road. We had no idea how impressive a place it is. I’m surprised it isn’t a national park actually. The colors are crazy, like if this was part of a movie set (which is has been, many times), you’d say it was unrealistic and probably roll your eyes, thinking, “Yeah right.” The White Domes trail is pretty easy, though the first part is a steep descent down a rocky, sandy notch. You come to a place that is marked with an information kiosk listing the movies it has been used for. There is a partial structure remaining and if I knew the movie “The Professionals” it might look familiar. I am quite familiar with “Beastmaster,” and I must say, nothing was bringing back any memories about any of the scenery. There was this one arial shot where Dar (from Ar) was swinging his big sword around on top of some random rock, in what could have been this area, for reasons of … training? The location in that shot didn’t seem to really jive with the rules of movie continuity for the rest of the movie, but “Beastmaster” is a super high quality film, so I assume there was a logical explanation. Anyway, that scene could have been Valley of Fire. Where they shot the scenes with the blind witches or the Jun hoards or the weasel creatures stealing the naked Tanya Roberts’ clothing while taking a bath, I do not know. See? Now you need to see “Beastmaster.”
“Fire Wave” Trail
There were lots of people on the trails and in the parking areas, and when we got to Parking Area #3 for the Seven Wonders Trail, there was a car that was very very stuck on a big rock. They were probably trying to create a parking space where there wasn’t one, but we both took a moment to be thankful for AWD and high clearance. This trail was just as jaw dropping as the other, with signs marking a rock formation called the “Fire Wave.” All of the rock formations could have had names and I refrained from taking pictures every ten feet. This hike took longer than we anticipated because there was apparently a rock fall on the part of the loop trail that returns toward the parking area. This was not marked at all, and was alarming to not only Richard, but to another couple using a GPS map app. The park had placed trail marker posts up ahead and eventually had a sign pointing the new route, but when you are really locked into your GPS app, and it tells you to go up the pile of fallen boulders because that’s where the dotted line is, that’s where you go. We did not, but the other couple did. They were ok, and we met up at the end, but that was more exciting than we expected, so we called it a day.
Merry Christmas to all!
We had a delicious dinner of Chicken Cordon Blue, thanks to Barber Frozen Foods and the Omnia oven. We paired that with sautéed asparagus with olive oil and balsamic and it was absolutely fabulous. Life is good. All is right with the world. Merry Christmas to all. This one will be tough to top.
We definitely spotted this in “The Professionals”
As an update: we did later watch “The Professionals.” Meh. I guess I’m not a western fan. But that sure was Valley of Fire! You can even see where they built the set for Raza’s village in what is now the parking area for the White Domes Trail.
Total miles: 22.8 from Echo Bay, 15.1 mpg, 59 min. Site 16 Arch Rock Campground. No cell service at all. You have to go up to the White Domes road or out to Fire Canyon Lookout to get good service. No hookups in this campground, but there are hookups in the Atlatl campground right next to it. It’s all gravel roads in the campground loops and the turns are tight in Arch Rock. It’s not for big rigs, but an Alto fits into most sites. Good dump (also quite photogenic) and potable water.