Valley of Fire State Park is well-known for its fire-red rock formations, which is why the White Domes Loop stands out so dramatically. At the northern end of the park, white and yellow slickrock gleams brightly in the hot desert sun, beckoning hikers, photographers and explorers out to this interesting landscape. The White Domes Loop is an easy, 1-mile hike that passes by an old movie set, continues through a slot canyon, and finishes across undulating rock and sand. It's a big bang-for-your-buck kind of hike, so it draws in large crowds.
The scenery along this trail changes constantly, providing visitors a good snapshot of what the park has to offer. Just beyond the white rock at the trailhead lies a wonderland of yellows, pinks and reds. A short walk up and over a hill opens up an entirely new landscape. As you walk alongside the rock formations, notice the unusual patterns left by time and erosion. The many-layered sandstone rocks tell the tales of an ancient seafloor, laid down millions of years ago. Over time the layers were stretched, uplifted, fractured and modified by forces inside the earth. The various lines, layers, cracks and patterns are a field geologist's playground. For most visitors, however, the beauty of the rocks is enough to make this a worthwhile stop.
A short slot canyon offers up some shade along the otherwise open and sunny trail. About halfway through the loop, notice a sign for Prospect Trail. This route follows a wash 4.6 miles back to the main road. If you've got a car shuttle and excellent navigational skills, this would make for a nice adventure. If you're not up for that big of a challenge, venture off the main loop just as far as you're comfortable; you'll find exceptionally beautiful vistas with a fraction of the people. Curious adventurers can wander off-trail to their heart's content out there. Just make sure you can find your way back.
Finish the loop on a combination of sandy and rocky trails. On your way, watch for prickly pear cactus, yucca plants and a variety of seasonal wildflowers.
Bring plenty of water and sun protection for this route. Hike in the early morning or early evening for the best colors, smallest crowds and cooler temperatures.