Bowl of Fire Trail Professional Review and Guide
"Who says all the beautiful red sandstone is at Red Rock Canyon? The Bowl of Fire trail takes you from a seemingly ordinary wash to unusual red Aztec sandstone formations. The area didn’t get its name by being mundane; this area is truly one of the most gorgeous spots in the Lake Mead region. Lake Mead can get quite warm, so venture out only when the temperatures are practical for hiking. On a rare occasion you may find water in sandstone depressions called tinajas, but do not count on it for your drinking water. Dogs will enjoy the change from sauntering up a wash to the treat of a little scramble at the end of the hike. If your dog has sensitive paws, you may want to take a pair of dog booties with you on this hike. The sandstone formations have a texture similar to sandpaper, and may wear down the nails and pads of your dog—more so than other hikes described in this book. Under foot and paw: Gravel, dirt, and rocks."
--Kimberly Lewis & Paula Jacoby-Garrett, Best Hikes with Dogs: Las Vegas & Beyond (The Mountaineers Books).
This is a fun trail with a surprising amount of diversity. If you would like to hike into the "bowl" areas seen easily from the road, there are 2 places to park. One is an obvious road side pull out (with a trash can as well). This hike is a relatively flat hike through the desert into the lower "bowl" area. This hike was about 5 miles round trip out and back. The other place to park is the parking lot east, up the road another couple of miles, with pit toilets and plenty of parking for RVs as well. This hike has BUTT KICKING elevation gains and requires more route finding (cairns abound, but aren't all reliable ways to go). This way will take you to the upper, larger "bowl" area. This way took us about 7 miles round trip out and back.
The two "bowls" can be done as a loop, but I have to imagine that would be many more miles and a relatively long day. We did the upper and lower bowls as 2 separate hike on 2 different days. The red rocks in the bowls are amazing and completely worth the effort to get to. Be sure to have 2 or 3 liters of water per person, and as this is a relatively exposed desert hike, it would be scorching hot above 85 degrees.
It is a nice drive there. The sandstone structures are well worth the hike. We went on President's day and had the place to ourselves.
What a great day hike or a lite overnight.
Pack a lot of water. I imagine this place is brutal come summer. Perfect day when I went though. After four hours of hiking in 65F sun, some clouds rolled in and it sleeted a bit on my way back to the trailhead ... then rained and poured after I got back to the car. A rare day in the desert.
There was only one area I found that took some easy scrambling to access the trail, but once in the "bowl", there's more climbing and hiking for months of exploration.
If you were backpacking on the day I hiked through, you could have had all the water you could filter or treat. On almost any other day, unless there's a hidden spring somewhere within the area, you'll need all the water you can carry ... great for a day hike, but you'll barely have enough time to explore.
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