Valley of Fire - Flash Flood in the Desert

I did not expect much when I was going to Valley of Fire State Park located just one hour's drive north of Las Vegas. I knew it was a p...

I did not expect much when I was going to Valley of Fire State Park located just one hour's drive north of Las Vegas. I knew it was a popular place, but I was convinced that this was because of its proximity to Las Vegas. However, the park and its beauty exceeded all my expectations! So if you like nature like I do, this place has to be on your bucket list.
What's the most interesting about this park is its geological features.  This is where bright red sandstones, which are abundant in Utah, meet the mostly colourless desert of Nevada.
The result - striking red rock formations that ignite seems to be a lifeless desert like a fire. And that's exactly how the park got its name - Valley of Fire.
This park is the oldest in Nevada. It was created in 1935, four years after Nevada legalized casino gambling. 
Spring 2016 brought a lot of precipitation to the American Southwest, so its deserts were literally blooming. Very unusual, but damn beautiful!
I can't help but admire how these plants survive in this unforgiving and harsh environment, let alone produce such beautiful flowers.
 I don't even see the soil. Do you?
Valley of Fire is also home to some petrified logs. First of all, it's hard to imagine that this desert was once a humid lush forest. Secondly, the process of substituting the organic matter of fallen trees with inorganic sediment from the water where these trees were buried is really fascinating. Valley of Fire is not the only place with petrified forest in the American Southwest. The biggest concentration of those tree fossils is in Petrified Forest National Park. I have interesting pictures and stories from there too, so follow the updates on this website.
Valley of Fire offers thousands of unusual rock formations.
This rock is called Atlatl Rock and it is a sacred place for some Native American tribes. 
Picnic tables and restrooms don't let you lose a connection with our civilization at this unusual place that sometimes looks like the Red Planet - Mars.
These petroglyphs on the Atlatl Rock are believed to have existed for over 4,000 years. Although we can only guess what these mean, they reflect the culture and the way of thinking of people who lived here way before Europeans came and changed their lives forever.
Red soil creates a sharp contrast with the surrounding grey mountains.
Driving through the park is another experience you have to live through.
A flock of the big horn sheep are watching for cars passing by.
The Rainbow Vista is the "Adventure in Colour" as it was called on the information stand. 
Good spot for the Hide and Seek game.
These unusual rock formations are called "Beehives". They have grooved lines going in different directions. These lines form a bed or a layer. Each bed indicates the angle the wind or water was moving at the time the material was deposited.
There is a loop trail in the White Domes area of the park. We were planning to hike it, but the dark clouds approaching from the south changed our plans. 
In that day's morning, my friend told me that it was going to rain. I didn't really believe him. Come on, it's a desert! What rain are we talking about?
I was wrong. Although the rain was not heavy, it caused a flash flood which I've heard of, but never seen before. The park ranger came and warned people via the loud-hailer that the flash flood was about to start, and that everyone should have left the area to avoid being stuck.
I knew that flash floods could be dangerous because the water in a desert does not soak into the soil, so dry washes quickly become deep and fast-flowing rivers. 
The rain is on its way.
But it was already too late to escape from the park. Numerous washes made the road impassable and cut it into pieces. 
It's amazing what a normal rain can do in a desert - it even created huge waterfalls.
Dare to drive over this wash? Not a good idea.
When I asked a ranger how long it would take for the water in this wash to recede so that we could pass it, she said, "10 hours". But after looking at my face, she added, "Just kidding - about one hour, the water is already receding". I agree, there should be room for humour in every situation no matter how terrified or stressed out you are. But the good thing though was that we were at the visitor's centre, so even if we had to spend a night at the park, we would have a roof, restrooms and some snacks from vending machines. Others who were stuck between washes would have been less fortunate.
And she was right - after about one hour, rangers instructed each driver and let them pass the wash. On the way back to Las Vegas, we crossed about 15 more washes. 
Mother Nature is truly remarkable. And even though this was a nerve-racking experience, I'm glad that this actually happened to us, so next time we would be more prepared for natural disasters like a flash flood. And, by the way, if you're in Vegas, this park is an absolute must even if it's sunny outside :)

Other posts about deserts:
The Hottest Place on Earth. But Is It Really Dead?

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