Hike the Prospect Trail in the Valley of Fire

Prospect Trail

A hike through a beautiful desert that offers a surprising geological variety. It can also be traveled by horseback.

Coming from the adventure guide map you can buy at the Visitors Center, which you should do, they describe the Prospect Trail in the following:

"Hikers and equestrians enjoy 5.5 miles of outback trail between Valley of Fire Highway and White Domes.  Many work out the logistics of being picked up on one end or the other, since the 11-mile RT is a long walk.  There is no water along the way, and there are no trail markers, so please be prepared!"

The Prospect Trail is the longest hike you'll find at the Valley of Fire State Park, coming in at 11 miles RT (12 if you include the White Domes Trail, which I recommend).  The trail can be hiked south to north, starting in the parking lot north of the Petrified Logs area (not the Petrified Logs parking lot itself) or it can be hiked north to south beginning halfway through the White Domes Trail. 

Before you begin this 11-12 mile journey, it is important to understand that the Prospect Trail is relatively unmarked and not maintained since it is largely through a wash that follows a mountain range.  You'll see in the first photo above there are a occasional poles in the ground that show you which direction the trail is.  There are also the occasional white poles with yellow reflective tape that function as cairns, so it's not completely without trail markers.  Keep your eye out for those, as it can begin to feel you are lost since you're in the middle of the desert and tracks from other people exploring the area can lead you in the wrong direction.  The poles tend to pop up when you're starting to question yourself.  Just take your time when looking if you're starting to panic.  Frankly, what I found most helpful for the first half of the hike was following all of the horse dung since there is regular horseback riding through this part of the desert.  Although I did not see one horse or one person the entire time, there was plenty of evidence they had been through.

I want to stress that you are hiking through a wash, so as long as you follow the poles and you stick to the wash you should be okay if you're not good at navigating your way without a GPS system.

With that said, be ready for an incredible experience.  I've never seen so much variety in rock-types, big rock faces, number of small and medium sized arches, and various colors that look like they don't belong in the area.  And, if you're lucky, you'll run into some wildlife.

The trail itself breaks down like this:  The first 2.2 miles are on an old, graded dirt road, the next 2.2 follow the mountain range in a wash, and at 4.4 miles you climb out of the wash before going over and back down to the next wash until you reach the White Domes.  There is a part of the trail with large boulders (pictured above) that you will have to climb down and eventually back up, so if you're carrying a lot of photography gear and you're hiking solo be careful.

Due to the amount of exposure to the sun, the Prospect Trail is safest during cooler temperatures.  Otherwise, the difficulty is only in finding the trail and the distance if you decide to hike RT.  

Pack List

  • Camelbak/water.  The hotter the weather, the more water.  I carried 100oz bladder.
  • Backpack
  • Camera - lightweight tripod if you want to carry one
  • Hiking boots/trailrunners would be fine
  • Food/snacks
  • Weather appropriate clothing
  • Head lamp if you're planning on a late hike
Show More
RT Distance 11 Miles
Activities Chillin, Photography, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Groups
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Amazing hike

It’s not marked or maintained but it’s a heck of a hike


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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