Canyoneering Route Description

Fire Canyon - 2A I
Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

Quick Facts

03-01-09, 1 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 3.5 hours) Pictures Icon

Time Required - 3 to 4 hours
Distance - 4.8 miles Total, 1.7 miles Technical
Rappels - 0 Rappels, Longest Rappel N/A feet.
No rappels but a couple spots of scrambling where some people may desire a handline for assistance.
Elevation Range - 2070 - 1690 Feet
Shuttle Required -Yes 3.9 Miles Vehicle - Passenger  Permit Required - No

Gear Used for Canyon

A 30 foot rope is recommended to assist those not comfortable with some of the scrambling and stemming.

General Comments

I found reference to this hike / canyon route on the Climb Utah site.  The route starts from Mouse’s Tank trailhead then continues past Mouse’s Tank and into the Fire Canyon Wash.  The route continues through Fire Canyon Wash to highway 169.  There are a few spots to scramble and one spot to stem down a slot to get back to the canyon floor.  The rest of the route is easy walking in semi narrow to wide open areas of Fire Canyon Wash.  The wide open areas are extremely peaceful feeling on days with good weather.

The narrow sections are sporadic and short.  The canyon doesn’t have that super narrow feel some expect on canyoneering routes.  So in some ways this would be considered more of a great hike through a scenic area with a few fun scrambles and stemming. If you like to see animal tracks in the sand this is a great canyon to check out.  The sand is riddled with various animal tracks and very few human tracks.  More and more human tracks start to appear as you get a mile or so from the highway.

Driving Directions

To get to the Trailhead

From I-15 north of Las Vegas, travel southeast on Scenic Highway 169 for about 19 miles to the turnoff for the Valley of Fire visitor center and scenic drive (Ext2ValyFirSD).  Turn toward the visitor center and drive 1.25 miles to the Mouse’s Tank trailhead (tMouseTank).  This is where you will start the route.

To leave the Exit Vehicle / Escape Pod

Travel east on Scenic Highway 169 to the turnoff for the Valley of Fire visitor center (Ext2ValyFirSD).  From this turn off do not turn into the scenic drive.  Instead continue 2.5 miles east on hwy 169.  Here you will find a turn off to a dirt road on the left (north) side of the road (tFireCanyon).  This turn off is just before crossing the main wash for Fire Canyon and has room for 4 or 5 cars to park.  Leave the exit vehicle here.  If you intend to reverse your route and go back up canyon to your original start point, no exit vehicle will be needed.  Or you can walk the 3.9 miles back to the start.

Maps

GPS coordinate information listed at the bottom.  For information about waypoint naming and map symbols, refer to the Glossary page.

Map Link Icon
Click the links for maps of the route.
 
Map of the entire route.

Details

The Approach:
From the Mouse’s Tank trailhead (tMouseTank) follow the hiking trail southeast toward Mouse’s Tank.  There are quite a few petro glyphs along this trail.  About 0.2 mile from the trailhead are a couple of walls with petro glyphs right next to the trail on the left (sPetroGlyf3).

At 0.3 miles from the trailhead (just shortly past the petro glyphs) next to the trail will be an easy scramble to the left (north) to leave the trail.  This easy scramble up can also be used to access Mouse’s Tank.  This scramble (yFireCyn-MT-Tp) marks the start of what will be labeled as the technical portion of the route.  Technically there is no real technical section on the route so I chose the point where you leave the main trail to mark as the technical start.

The Canyon / Technical Section:
Once at the top of this scramble (wFireCynRP-01), walk another few feet to where it starts to drop down the other side.  To the right will be a large sandstone slab.  Follow the faint path near this slab as it leads down to the east.  Following this path will lead to a drop off  (wFireCynRP-02) of about 25 feet.  As you reach this drop off go left on a 2-3 foot high ledge and look on the other side for a chute.  Follow the chute down to the canyon floor in soft sand.

A little over 400 feet down canyon from the bottom of the chute will be a trail or side canyon that joins from the left (wFireCynRP-03).  Continue to the right. 

Another 100 feet or so down canyon will be another trail or side canyon joining from the right (wFireCynRP-04).  Continue to the left.  Shortly after is a short narrow section with high walls. 

Near the end of the narrow section is an arch LDC (wFireCynRP-05) that is easily missed.  It has a lot of dead bushes and vegetation blocking the view to it.

About 350 feet beyond this arch is a section with rock fall debris.  Climb over the large rocks to where the canyon turns right.  To continue down canyon you will need to drop down a flat slab bout 8 or 10 feet (wFireCynRP-06) then down one more down climb to a narrower section.  The narrow section can and does hold water depending on the time of year.  So if there have been recent rains you may need to get a little wet (only to the knees or so).  I have been able to stem across this section in when it is full of water.

Shortly after the section that can hold water you will come to a drop of about 30 feet or so (wFireCynRP-07).  To bypass the drop, travel up the slope LDC then climb down a steep but easy slope to the floor below the drop.

About 250 feet after climbing around the drop and back to the canyon floor, a canyon joins from the left (wFireCynRP-08).  Continue to the right. 

Another 200 – 300 feet down canyon another canyon joins from the left (wFireCynRP-09).  Once again continue right. 

Now the canyon opens up and heads mostly east for about 0.6 miles .  The wash is wide, flat, and sandy with only a few small obstacles to climb over.  It is very peaceful feeling in this area.  There are very few if any people tracks and lots of animal tracks.  Lizards, snakes, birds, rabbits, coyote and big horn sheep tracks can be seen here.  Along this stretch you will see wide open spaces and lots of beautiful rock formations.  Stay in the main wash as various smaller washes join the wash you are in.  You will also pass a fairly large water hole (seasonally holding water) in the middle of the wash (wFireCynRP-10).

At the end of the 0.6 mile long open section the main wash will turn left and head north (wFireCynRP-11).  After turning left the wash begins to narrow again.  About 550 feet from this turn, the sand in the wash turns white (rather than the pinkish red you have been in) and the wash turns right (wFireCynRP-12) as it heads to an even more narrow section.

About 550 feet after the white sand area is a crack / drop in the wash about 30 feet (wFireCynRP-13).  Step over the crack to the left side of the canyon and climb down the easy scramble to the canyon floor.

About 350 feet past this drop, is another drop of about 35 feet, which is comprised of a series of potholes (wFireCynRP-14).  When these potholes are pretty dry and have what appears to be wet sand in them, I still do not recommend dropping down into them.  The sand can look like it is wet and compacted enough to stand on as you cross the potholes.  Looks can be deceiving.  In these potholes is extremely soft goopy mud that only looks like nice hard wet sand.  Enter at your own risk.  If you still think your eyes are right try throwing in a small rock and watch.

To bypass these potholes climb about 400 feet up the steep sloped rock RDC.  About 150 feet up the slope you will see a crack that looks down climbable.  Do not take this one, it cliffs out.  Continue up the slope the full 400 feet or so to the top of another crack (wFireCynRP-15).  This one is down climbable.  Near the bottom of this crack you will need to stem down a very narrow part about 12 feet.  If you are a skilled down climber this will be very easy.  If not have someone go first to spot you or have someone lend a hand with the rope you brought along.

After down climbing this slot you can turn left and walk about 100 feet up the wash to see the bottom of the potholes you bypassed.  Or you can turn right and scramble up and over some rocks to the main wash again to continue your route.  Once in the main wash you are done with the technical section of the canyon.  This is marked on the map as the bottom exit of Fire Canyon (yFireCynBt).

The Exit:
About 500 feet past the bottom exit is what I have named Picnic Rock (sPicnicRock).  The rock sits right in the middle of the wash and has a flat table like surface about 4 feet from the wash floor.  It is the perfect spot to stop for a snack before the 2.7 mile walk down the wash to the lower trailhead where you parked the exit vehicle.

The rest of the canyon is pretty wide open and is mostly walking on flat sand.  There are a couple spots to rock hop over but they are short and easy.  This section has that same peaceful feeling and lots of animal tracks as the upper wide area did.  The difference is the numerous human tracks all over.  The closer you get to the lower trailhead the more human tracks you will find.

Along the way you will see an arch (sFragileArch) over head LDC that has a section so small it looks like the wind will snap it off any time.  Another set of 2 small arches (sDoubleArch) very low RDC will be just over head height.

Just before getting to the road you will see a set of buildings (wFireCynBldngs) RDC that have been fenced off.  Just past these buildings turn right and walk up out of the wash to find a dirt road that will lead you back to the parking at the lower trailhead (tFireCanyon).

GPS Waypoint Information

GPX Files Available for DOWNLOAD.
Downloadable GPX files for many of the canyons listed here are now available at the BG-Gear Store.  In addition to the waypoints, the GPX files also offer routes and tracks for the canyon.  Over time more GPX files will be added.

If you want to avoid manually adding waypoints into your GPS or mapping software, want the additional routes and tracks or simply want to support the efforts put into BluuGnome, head over to the BG-Gear Store and grab the files that interest you.

Elevations are approximate.  Waypoints with no elevation data will display NaN in place of the elevation.

For information about my waypoint naming convention and map symbols, refer to the Glossary page.

Notes for GPS information:
BEFORE
entering coordinates from this website, please ensure your system (GPS or mapping software) is set to the same datum used here.  Waypoint coordinates are listed with WGS84 datum and in Lat/Lon hddd.ddddd° format.  Entering coordinate information with inconsistent datum's can result in the waypoints being off by hundreds of feet.  It is important to keep this in mind when entering waypoints from any source.

Right Click the link below then, select "Save Target As" to download the GPX file for this route.
GPX File

Fire Canyon (1) - Drive in and Approach
  1. Ext2ValyFirSD          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.42652   W -114.51370        Elev: 1,970 Feet
    Exit to the Valley of Fire Scenic Drive and up to the visitor center.
  2. tMouseTank          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.44103   W -114.51595        Elev: 2,070 Feet
    Mouse's Tank trailhead.
  3. sPetroGlyf3          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.43862   W -114.51413        Elev: NaN Feet
    Petro glyphs a short distance before the climb away from the main trail.
  4. yFireCyn-MT-Tp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.43805   W -114.51308        Elev: 2,060 Feet
    Top entry for Fire Canyon via Mouse's Tank. Scramble up the slick rock on the left (north) side of the trrail toward Mouse's Tank.
Fire Canyon (2) - Technical Portion
  1. yFireCyn-MT-Tp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.43805   W -114.51308        Elev: 2,060 Feet
    Top entry for Fire Canyon via Mouse's Tank. Scramble up the slick rock on the left (north) side of the trrail toward Mouse's Tank.
  2. wFireCynRP-01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.43863   W -114.51291        Elev: 2,100 Feet
    Top of the climb after leaving the main trail.
  3. wFireCynRP-02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.43854   W -114.51235        Elev: NaN Feet
    25 foot drop. Travel left on 2-3 foot ledge to the left and drop down chute to canyon floor.
  4. wFireCynRP-03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.43814   W -114.51077        Elev: 2,040 Feet
    A trail / canyon joins from the left. Continue straight (right)
  5. wFireCynRP-04          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.43787   W -114.51005        Elev: NaN Feet
    Trail / canyon joins from right. Continue left.
  6. wFireCynRP-05          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.43810   W -114.50973        Elev: 1,974 Feet
    Arch to the side of the canyon (LDC) that is hidden by dead bushes.
  7. wFireCynRP-06          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.43904   W -114.50985        Elev: NaN Feet
    8 - 10 foot drop down a flat slab.
  8. wFireCynRP-07          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.43916   W -114.50911        Elev: NaN Feet
    Drop of about 30 feet. Bypass by climb around LDC.
  9. wFireCynRP-08          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.43987   W -114.50877        Elev: 1,933 Feet
    Trail / canyon joins from left. Stay right.
  10. wFireCynRP-09          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.44141   W -114.50840        Elev: 1,980 Feet
    Trail / canyon joins from left. Stay right. To the left looks like a fun slot to go explore on a future outing.
  11. wFireCynRP-10          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.44045   W -114.50014        Elev: NaN Feet
    Large water hole in middle of wash.
  12. wFireCynRP-11          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.44043   W -114.49939        Elev: NaN Feet
    Main wash turns left and begins to narrow a bit.
  13. wFireCynRP-12          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.44221   W -114.49976        Elev: 1,930 Feet
    Sand Turns white and wash turns right toward a narrow section.
  14. wFireCynRP-13          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.44297   W -114.49840        Elev: NaN Feet
    30 foot drop off in wash above a crack. Down climb the ledges LDC to the canyon floor.
  15. wFireCynRP-14          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.44245   W -114.49744        Elev: 1,870 Feet
    A series of potholes dropping about 35 feet. Climb around these RDC. Go up high to find a crack to down climb about 350 feet south.
  16. wFireCynRP-15          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.44150   W -114.49759        Elev: 1,980 Feet
    Top of the bypass crack to down climb to get around mud filled potholes.
  17. yFireCynBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.44235   W -114.49695        Elev: 1,885 Feet
    Bottom Exit of Fire Canyon.
Fire Canyon (3) - Exit
  1. yFireCynBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.44235   W -114.49695        Elev: 1,885 Feet
    Bottom Exit of Fire Canyon.
  2. sPicnicRock          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.44372   W -114.49604        Elev: 1,841 Feet
    A rock that sits in the middle of the wash and looks like a huge table or platform about 4 feet off the wash floor. I would love to take someone on a picnic to this rock.
  3. sFragileArch          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.44019   W -114.48096        Elev: NaN Feet
    An arch LDC over head that has a section that is so thin it looks like just a little stress would topple it.
  4. sDoubleArch          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.43579   W -114.47821        Elev: NaN Feet
    Two arches or windows RDC a little over head.
  5. wFireCynBldngs          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.42801   W -114.47218        Elev: 1,700 Feet
    Old Buildings that have been fenced in.
  6. tFireCanyon          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.42628   W -114.47056        Elev: 1,690 Feet
    Lower trailhead for Fire Canyon route. Small lot for parking 4 or 5 cars on north side of road.