Valley of Fire State Park

I recently moved to Las Vegas, which I am absolutely stoked on. I have found this place to have all of the benefits of a "big city", yet much fewer of the drawbacks (traffic mainly... I'm looking at you L.A.) It is also centrally located to many National and State parks around the American Southwest, so it is a perfect place to base out of.

However, before I knew I would be living here I was visiting for work (my day job) and decided to drive out to the Valley of Fire State Park one morning for sunrise before I had to officially start my day. This place was absolutely amazing. Every time I visit the desert I am blown away, I feel they are extremely underrated. Honestly, I think desert's have some of the best sunrises and sunsets, the colors just can't be beat. Follow along with the photos below to see Valley of Fire through my eyes on this clear October morning :)

Valley of Fire State Park

Driving in well before sunrise, I was treated to glimpses of what I was in for in regards to the surrounding landscape.

I was enjoying exploring around in the pre-dawn light so much that I almost forgot about the "main" subject I came here to photograph. If you are familiar with this park, then you know about Mouse's Tank Road. This road may be one of the sexiest roads on the planet and is best viewed at sunrise. After I remembered this, I got in my car to find my vantage point to watch the morning light flood the valley. 

Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park

I mean, am I right? How sexy is that road? Check out her curves. While the light was good I stayed in this general area getting different variations of the same photo because, well, that's photography. The light is changing so fast in those early minutes of morning that you never know when it is going to be the "best". For me, I think it came sporadically on this morning. So, enjoy a few slightly different takes on this same location below.

After feeling pretty satisfied with what I was able to capture, I hit the road back towards Las Vegas. It was on this drive out of the park that I came across a heard of about 5-6 Bighorn Sheep. My camera was in the passenger seat, so I was able to grab it easily. The issue with photographing wildlife is that they don't take direction well and won't wait for you to get all of your settings right to take their picture. So, I did my best. I pulled to the side of the road and started snapping away. After following them around for about 10 minutes hoping for the "perfect" shot, I threw in the towel. My running around after them drew the attention of other cars who pulled over to see what I was looking at, which led to the sheep taking off into the landscape. 

I got back into my car and started going through my camera to see what I got. As expected, the majority of my shots were out of focus. It happened so quickly, and they were moving so fast, that I was having difficulty getting them in perfect focus. BUT WAIT! I came across a photo in the mix that seemed to me to be a miracle. The focus was crisp, and the framing was perfect. Literally perfect. Had the sheep been willing to pose for me I don't think I would have been able to get a better photo. This has become one of my favorite photographs ever taken. The photo itself is great, sure; but the memory of firing away on my camera and not expecting to get anything good makes it mean so much more to me. 

One of my favorite photos ever taken. 

One of my favorite photos ever taken. 

I caught one more of his friends in my rearview mirror before the show was over. 

Valley of Fire State Park

It is now November 21st, about a month and a half after I took this trip out to Valley of Fire. Life has been busy with my new job and the time I have available for editing photos has diminished. However, I was finally able to get around to this trip and am extremely satisfied with what I was able to make from it. I believe these photos to be some of my best work to date.