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Valley of Fire State Park, Mouse's Tank
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Valley of Fire State Park, Mouse's Tank
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Mouse's Tank
Start of the Mouse's Tank Trail

Description

The Valley of Fire is a dry, sparsely vegetated desert area with spectacular red sandstone crags and rock piles that have eroded in a variety of interesting and unusual forms. Many rock faces are covered with desert varnish, a naturally occurring dark patina that forms on the surface of rocks in the desert. Native peoples who lived in the area created petroglyphs by pecking away the desert varnish to reveal the underlying light-colored rock.

Access is via good, paved roads. The main road runs east-west across the State Park through a broad, flat valley bordered by dark gray limestone mountains on the south and fire-red sandstone crags on the north.

Mouse's Tank
Along the trail (view southeast).

The campground and Atlatl Rock are in the western end of the valley, the Visitor Center is in the center, and Lake Mead lies just beyond the eastern end. One side-road, starting at the Visitor Center, runs north through a red sandstone canyon and out into a spectacular area with multicolored (shades of red and white) sandstone crags.

Mouse's Tank is two natural potholes in the sandstone rock part way down a waterfall. Water collects in the potholes after rains, and because it is mostly shaded from the sun, the water lasts for months. The word "tank" comes from cowboy lingo, where a "tank" is a place that holds water. The name "Mouse" comes from a Southern Paiute Indian named Little Mouse who is said to have hid out here while trying, unsuccessfully in the end, to avoid a white lynch mob during the 1890s. Link to more information about the legend of Mouse's Tank.

Mouse's Tank

The short route to Mouse's Tank runs down the sandy wash in Petroglyph Canyon, passing with an extensive and amazing array of very nice petroglyphs along the way. The extensive and varied petroglyphs, the red sandstone, and the numerous chuckwalla lizards make this a memorable trail.

This site is just the tip of the iceberg at Valley of Fire. Wander around and explore the area looking for petroglyphs and other evidence of past human use of the area. Remember, however, petroglyphs and artifacts are national treasures that are easily damaged. Please take care of the area and leave it as you found it for generations to come.

Mouse's Tank

Location

Links to Area Map and Site Map.

Valley of Fire is located about one hour east of Las Vegas.

The quickest way to get to the Valley of Fire from Las Vegas is to drive north on Highway I-15 (actually northeast) for about 33 miles to Exit 75E. Exit at the Indian Smoke House and drive east on Highway 169 for about 20 miles. After crossing the mountains and driving down a spectacular limestone canyon, you will arrive at the entrance station and the first views of the red sandstone crags.

Mouse's Tank

 

Pay the fee, and then continue east for 4 miles to the Visitor Center turnoff (Table 1, Site 1223). Turn left and drive north towards the Visitor Center (Site 0683), but just before reaching the Visitor Center, turn left and drive west on the Road to Mouse's Tank and the White Domes. The Mouse's Tank parking area (Site 1224) is just a few minutes up the road. From the trailhead, it is about 0.25 miles to the heart of the petroglyph area.

Links to Area Map and Site Map.

A more scenic, but slower way to get to the Valley of Fire from Las Vegas is to drive out through Lake Mead National Recreation Area. From downtown, drive north on Highway I-15 for about 2 miles to Lake Mead Blvd. Exit the Interstate and drive east Lake Mead Blvd. Cross over the mountains, pass the Lake Mead entrance station (paying $5 per vehicle), and continue to the T-intersection at Northshore Road. Turn left (east) onto Northshore Road and drive out past Echo Bay to the turnoff to Valley of Fire. Turn left (west) and drive about 6 miles to the Visitor Center (Site 0683). Pay the entrance fee at the Visitor Center.

Mouse's Tank

Hours

The park is always open. The visitor center (open daily, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM) provides exhibits on the geology, ecology, prehistory, and recent history of the park. Most birding and hiking places are in day-use areas.

Mouse's Tank

Fees

Entrance Fee: $10.00 per vehicle per day ($8 for Nevada residents). Camping Fees: 20.00 per night per vehicle ($10 entrance fee + $10 more), but you get long hot showers for that price (showers only in Atlatl Rock Campground).

For More Information

Visit the state park website; or call them at (702) 397-2088.

Mouse's Tank Mouse's Tank

Table 1. Highway Coordinates based on GPS data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location Latitude Longitude Easting Northing Elevation (ft)
0683 Valley of Fire Visitor Center 36.42996 114.51279 722969 4034312 1,995
1223 Hwy 169 at Visitor Center turnoff 36.42643 114.51282 722977 4033920 1,952
1224 Mouse's Tank Parking Area 36.44101 114.51557 722689 4035532 2,083

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170704

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