The brightly colored rock formations at Valley of Fire State Park attract visitors from all over the world. One of the best ways to get oriented with the hiking and scenery in the park is by exploring the Rainbow Vista Trail. While the trail is short, flat and covers easy terrain, keep in mind that it can get very hot during the summer and especially during mid-day.
As you walk along the sandy trail, look closely: This is lizard country. You're likely to see lizards sunning themselves on the many rock formations or darting across the trail from the shelter of one shady plant to another. Chuckwallas, desert iguanas, side-blotched lizards and horned lizards (not toads) make their home here. You'll also observe several plants that have adaptations suitable for the harsh desert conditions. Several species of cactus thrive here. Their fleshy stems allow them to store plenty of water to survive drought conditions. Specialized leaf and root systems of sagebrush and creosote help the plants deal with large temperature swings that are common in desert habitats.
The trail has a slightly different out-and-back route. Follow the trail markers first to the right to make your way to an overlook of Fire Canyon, the so-called "Rainbow Vista." From your perch above the canyon you'll be inspired by the colored rock and perhaps invited to explore even deeper into the canyon. Walk back the way you came and look to the right: There is another trail marker leading to a second overlook off of the main route. This is a worthy detour. From there you'll see rounded mounds of slickrock just begging to be climbed. Many people choose to wander off-trail here. Take your pick of any of the inviting structures or venture back toward the marked trail to your car. Just be sure to watch your step and stay off the vegetation.