Balancing Rock

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Trip Date: Sunday, November 10th, 2019
Last Updated: Friday, March 13th, 2020
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★☆☆(3/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 0.1 miles roundtrip
Time 15 minutes
Terrain Mostly flat
Best Seasons Spring, Fall, Winter
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly Yes
Accessible No


Hike Summary

An hour outside of Las Vegas, you'll find the fantastically scenic Valley of Fire State Park. For a quick taste of what this beautiful desert has to offer, you can try the super short Balancing Rock Trail right by the visitor center. This hike will certainly get you warmed up and ready for more adventure on the other great trails in the park!

The trail begins on the west end of the upper parking lot near the visitor center. The gravel trail is well-marked and lined with rocks, as pictured below. If you look closely, you can see Balancing Rock in the distance below the massive sloping rock in the background.

The desert trail leading to Balancing Rock

The desert trail leading to Balancing Rock

Looking to your right, you can see some of the wild sandstone formations that Valley of Fire is famous for, as pictured below. Millions of years ago, this area was surprisingly underwater! Once the sea disappeared, wind blew the sand that was formerly on the bottom of the ocean, forming sand dunes. After a long period of time, the sand dunes fossilized. Years and years of erosion have sculpted these rocks into the rugged shapes you see today.
Valley of Fire's famous red sandstone formations to the north of the trail

Valley of Fire's famous red sandstone formations to the north of the trail

At the end of the trail, you'll see Balancing Rock, as pictured below. Geologic faulting gave the rock its tilted appearance, while wind and water sculpted the rock into a thin tower. When you're done marvelling at the rock formation, simply turn around and return the way you came.
The precariously perched boulder known as Balancing Rock

The precariously perched boulder known as Balancing Rock

The hike to Balancing Rock provides a quick introduction to Valley of Fire State Park, hopefully encouraging you to hike some of the other wonderful trails in the park. Connect with me using the social media links below and share your adventures!

Important Information

Dogs are allowed on leash. This short hike adjacent to the visitor center is great for kids and families, allowing you to see the famous rock formations up close without having to trek far into the desert. Summer temperatures are oppressively hot, usually rising above 100 degrees, so avoid visiting this park that time of year. Weather is mild the remainder of the year, but remember to apply sunscreen and wear protective clothing. Despite being adjacent to the visitor center, this trail isn't particularly busy due to a quick turnover time.


From Las Vegas, take Interstate 15 north. In about half an hour, take the exit for Valley of Fire Highway, which should have a brown sign for Valley of Fire State Park. Stay right to continue on Valley of Fire Highway. Continue straight, then pay the fee at the entrance station. A while past the entrance station, look for signs for the visitor center, then turn left and immediately right.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

The entrance fee to Valley of Fire State Park is $10 per vehicle per day. Annual State Parks passes are also available for $75. The visitor center has flush toilets, water, educational exhibits, a gift shop, and a staffed information desk.

Nearby Hikes

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Arizona Hot Spring and Liberty Bell Arch Loop
Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona
The view from the top of Calico Tanks
Calico Tanks
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada
The view of the badlands gorge from Miller Point
Miller Point
Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada

External Links