Elephant Rock is a unique rock formation just off Valley of Fire Highway, next to the east entrance of Valley of Fire State Park. This is the sort of sandstone formation that can’t be believed by people who haven’t seen it. Is Elephant Rock an oddly shaped natural arch or perhaps a stone encased mastodon trunk? Get a close look at Elephant Rock on an easy 0.3-mile hike.
Start from a parking area just inside the parking’s east entrance. If you are entering the park from this side near Lake Mead, Elephant Rock makes an obvious first stop. When the entrance booth is closed, the parking area at Elephant Rock doubles as an entrance fee self-pay station.
Follow the trail sign out the back of a brick structure and hike northwest into a gradual desert landscape. In less than a tenth of a mile, you will hit a junction with Arrowhead Trail (Old Arrowhead Road Historic Trail). This is a longer trail through the park that can also be used for a 1.2-mile loop in the Elephant Rock area. Turn left at this junction for the short route to Elephant Rock.
Hike a little farther up the trail, which angles southwest toward Valley of Fire Highway. When you reach the road, look up on the rocks to your right to see Elephant Rock. The elephant’s trunk – a natural arch of sandstone, really stands out, but look closer and you can visualize the elephant’s legs and body as well.
The trunk-like natural arch drops off the west side of Elephant Rock. The top of the arch is made of brick-like blocks that look different from other arches. The trunk on elephant rock is not made up of one smooth piece of bending rock as you might expect. Instead, it looks like a rock column connected by chunky pieces.
By some miracle, Elephant Rock stays upright. Obviously this fragile creation should not be harmed, so do not approach or climb on Elephant Rock. You can hoist yourself up onto the rocks alongside the trail to get a better view of Elephant Rock, exposing more of the lower parts of the animal’s legs.
When you have taken in the glory of Elephant Rock, the option remains to continue along the road to hike the longer loop, connecting with Arrowhead Trail. Otherwise, turn around and take a tenth of a mile long trail back to the start that roughly parallels the roadway. The short hike to Elephant Rock is only 0.3 miles long with 50 feet of elevation change. Elephant Rock can be seen from Valley of Fire Highway, but roadside parking is not allowed in this area.
Valley of Fire State Park charges an entrance fee, which can be paid at the trailhead for Elephant Rock. The fee is $10 for out of state vehicles and $8 for Nevada residents (all prices as of 2016). Parking is not allowed along Valley of Fire Highway below Elephant Rock. Leashed dogs are allowed on Elephant Rock Trail. No permit is required for this short walk to Elephant Rock, so get out and enjoy!
To get to the trailhead: Arriving from the east, from the intersection of Route 169 and 167 near Lake Mead, drive west on Valley of Fire Highway for two miles to the park’s east entrance. Immediately after the gate, pull into the parking area on the right (north) side of the road.
Coming from Las Vegas, take Interstate 15 north for about 35 miles to exit 75 (signs for Valley of Fire State Park and Lake Mead National Recreation Area). At the end of the offramp, proceed southeast on Valley of Fire Highway. Pass through the park’s west entrance after 14.5 miles and drive another 6.8 miles through the park to the trailhead on the left just before the park’s east entrance.
Trailhead address: Valley of Fire Highway, Valley of Fire State Park, Overton, NV 89040
Trailhead coordinates: 36.4289, -114.458175 (36° 25′ 44.03″N 114° 27′ 29.42″W)
You may also view a regional map of surrounding Nevada trails and campgrounds.
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