birdandhike.com logo
Home | Wilderness | Hiking | Basin and Range | Hiking Basin and Range National Monument
Valley of Faces
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Basin and Range National Monument
Valley of Faces
Valley of Faces
One of the more obvious faces in the valley

Overview

Valley of Faces, out in White River Narrows Archaeological District, is a narrow canyon bordered by volcanic cliffs that are fractures into vertical pillars and eroded into fanciful shapes. With some imagination, a variety of human and animal faces can be seen in the stone.

The hike follows Valley of Faces Road, a maintained sandy road that runs up the wash and normally is suitable for 2WD-HC vehicles until the canyon narrows. After that, when the canyon is too narrow to turn around a vehicle, the sand gets deeper and looser and 2WD vehicles are in grave danger of getting stuck.

Valley of Faces is a delightful place to hike and experience the deep canyon. Watch for flowers growing on the rocks, owls peeking out from dark places, Canyon Wrens singing from the cliffs, and perhaps B2 Stealth Bombers chasing one another around the sky. The best of the canyon ends at the Stone Cathedral, a stunning rock wall that has inspired humans since the beginning of time.

Link to map.

Valley of Faces
White River Narrows Road stays left at fork (view E)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a pretty safe hike, but it can have deep soft sand in the narrows that can trap 2WD vehicles.

While out, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. This road goes into remote areas, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials. Cell phones don't work in this area.

Valley of Faces
Approaching the Ash Hill and Cane Site A rock art sites (view E)

Getting to the Trailhead

Valley of Faces is located in the southeast part of Basin and Range National Monument, about 2 hours (131 miles) northeast of Las Vegas driving directly, or about 25 minutes (23.8 miles) north of the intersection of Highway 93 and Highway 318.

From Las Vegas, drive north on Interstate-15 for 21 miles to Highway 93. Turn left onto Great Basin Highway (Hwy 93) and drive north past the towns of Alamo and Ash Springs (top off the gas tank here) to the intersection of Highway 93 and Highway 318.

Turn left onto Highway 318 and drive west then north for 23.8 miles to White River Narrows Road on the right. The intersection is marked only by a paved apron and a cattle guard.

Drive east on White River Narrows Road for 250 yards to a fork. Stay right onto Valley of Faces Road and continue at most about 0.6 miles in a 2WD vehicle. Park here; this is the trailhead. The point is to hike through the canyon, so don't try to drive too far.

Valley of Faces
Entering Valley of Faces; park in this area (view SE)

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the hike starts up Valley of Faces Road. At first the canyon is fairly open with lots of shrubs along the edge, so keep an eye out for little birds, especially White-crowned Sparrows during winter.

Soon the canyon narrows (Wpt. 02) and hikers find shade as well as towering cliffs and eroded boulders. Ahead, the canyon sweeps left then right and enters the narrowest section (Wpt. 03). Above there, the canyon opens slightly and hikers pass the site where ranchers sometimes erect a temporary fence spanning the canyon with a gate. Pass through the gate, but be sure to leave it open or closed, which ever way it was found.

A bit farther up the canyon, hikers pass a quail guzzler (Wpt. 04) on the left. The wash then winds up against a tall cliff on the right with an unusual structure. One of the columnar blocks tipped over, but did not fall, creating a finger of stone sticking out from the cliff face.

Valley of Faces
Black-stone stripes on the hillside (view E)

After passing the "stone finger" cliffs, the canyon sweeps left and hikers get the first view of the Stone Cathedral ahead on the left. This towering cliff has inspired humans from the beginning of time, and the ancients used the stone canvas to peck and paint messages to the gods.

The Stone Cathedral is a good place to stop for a snack before turning back towards the trailhead (Wpt. 01). Valley of Faces Road does, however, continue up the canyon. The upper canyon is never again narrow, but it passes open areas and cliffs, and it remains scenic.

At about 1.3 miles from the trailhead, the canyon forks. The road goes right while a narrower canyon goes left. Staying right, at about 1.6 miles out, the canyon walls lay back. In the more open canyon, the road passes a corral at about 2.2 miles out, then a very old corral at about 2.3 miles out, and ends at a T-intersection 2.4 miles out.

Adventuresome hikers could turn left at the T-intersection and walk north 0.6 miles to another wash. Turning left down the wash, they could return 0.9 miles to Valley of Faces road where the canyon forks at 1.3 miles out, making a nice 5-mile partial loop.

Valley of Faces Valley of Faces
Valley of Faces
Skunkbush Sumac (Rhus trilobata)
Valley of Faces
Hole in the rock
Valley of Faces Valley of Faces
Valley of Faces Valley of Faces
Valley of Faces
Great Horned Owl
Valley of Faces
Kangaroo Rat skull found below owl roost
Valley of Faces
Valley of Faces Narrows (view E)
Valley of FacesInteresting plants grow on the rock walls
Valley of Faces
Lots of faces
Valley of Faces
Be sure to leave the gate as found -- either open or closed
Valley of Faces
Another hole in the rock
Valley of Faces
Jets dog-fighting in the blue sky
Valley of Faces
Eroded cliffs
Valley of Faces
Quail guzzler
Valley of Faces
Eroded cliffs
Valley of Faces
Who sees a woman on a horse?
Valley of Faces
High canyon walls
Valley of Faces
Fallen pillar
Valley of FacesFallen pillar Valley of Faces
Cracks in the wall
Valley of Faces
Sandwort (Arenaria spp.)
Valley of Faces
Eroded stone formations
Valley of Faces
Eroded stone formations
Valley of Faces
Approaching the Stone Cathedral (view NE)
Valley of Faces
Hikers arriving at the Stone Cathedral
Valley of Faces
Stone Cathedral
Valley of Faces Valley of Faces
Valley of Faces Valley of Faces
Valley of Faces Valley of Faces
Valley of Faces Valley of Faces
Valley of Faces
Pictographs
Valley of Faces
Dwarf Purple Monkeyflower (Mimulus nanus)
Valley of Faces
Far end of the Stone Cathedral
Valley of Faces
Stone Cathedral
Valley of Faces
Beyond the Stone Cathedral (view E)
Valley of Faces
Beyond the Stone Cathedral (view SE up canyon)
Valley of Faces
Interesting rock layers a bit up canyon (view S)
More to come
More to come ...

Hiking back down the Canyon through the Narrows

Valley of Faces Valley of Faces
Valley of Faces Valley of Faces
Valley of Faces
Taking a rest break on the way down (view W)
Valley of Faces
Hikers returning down the canyon (view E)

Table 1. Highway Coordinates and Distances based on GPS Data (NAD27). Download hiking GPS waypoints (gpx) file.

Wpt. Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi)
01 Valley of Faces Trailhead 672333 4186770 4,536 0.00 0.00
02 Canyon Narrows 672625 4186627 4,562 0.22 0.22
03 Narrows 672992 4186638 4,600 0.25 0.47
04 Quail Guzzler 673191 4186486 4,627 0.16 0.63
05 Stone Cathedral 673455 4186462 4,672 0.25 0.88
01 Valley of Faces Trailhead 672333 4186770 4,536 0.88 1.76

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170914

Basin and Range   Hiking Around Las Vegas Glossary Copyright, Conditions, Disclaimer Home

 

Google Ads