NOS Mission

Nevada Outdoor School inspires exploration of the natural world, responsible stewardship of our habitat and dedication to community.
This is the spot for us to share stories, fun ideas or general musings. When you aren't in here, we hope to see you out there!

Friday, April 21, 2023

AmeriCorps Spotlight - Kaitlin Phipps (Outdoor Educator for Nevada Outdoor School)

 Hello, my name is Kaitlin Phipps and I’m an Outdoor educator for Nevada Outdoor School in Elko, Nevada! I’m originally from Washington State but moved to Elko when I was young. Currently, I’m attending college for Elementary Education and hope to continue on that path when I move in August! 

I found out about AmeriCorps by finding my host site first. I was incredibly interested because it had so many benefits and amazing opportunities for me currently and in the future. I loved Nevada Outdoor School and wanted to learn more and expand my knowledge and experience so I decided that I definitely wanted to apply! I’ve been an AmeriCorps member for 10 months and I absolutely love it! AmeriCorps is such an incredible service to be participating in and has given me amazing opportunities. It has helped me find my passion and wonderful people. AmeriCorps is a program that’s helped shape me and truly expanded my horizons in life. It’s so important to the people serving, as well as the people who are involved in other ways such as students who were able to teach! I’ve been able to not only teach in schools and classrooms all over Northern Nevada but I’ve also been able to reach so many people in the community! By hikes and lessons outside to, in-office work. It has impacted everyone around me as well as myself. 

My favorite part of being an AmeriCorps member is all of the amazing students I’ve been able to teach and help in my community. I love that students are able to recognize me outside of the classroom when I serve at different events, and they’re able to tell me things they’ve learned. 

I think that AmeriCorps is a wonderful and truly positive and powerful experience that I think more people should be involved in. It has helped me grow and learn so much and I’m so thankful for it. I would really love to continue with AmeriCorps in the future either serving or attending events at different host sites. I’m so thankful for everyone who has helped me so far in my journey with the AmeriCorps program. 

Friday, April 14, 2023

Destination Recreation: Valley of Fire State Park

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Breathtaking views, scenic drives and hikes, cool wildlife, and a stunning array of colors, Valley of Fire State Park in southern Nevada is well worth the trip!

Located about 1-hour northeast of Las Vegas, near the town of Overton, Valley of Fire State Park is a great place for a day trip or an overnight adventure.  Many of the park’s stunning features are easily viewed from the car but don’t be fooled, there’s much more to discover on the trails.

Valley of Fire gets its name from red sandstone formations, formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of dinosaurs, 150 million years ago.  Red isn’t the only color you see though, whites, pinks, and yellows blend together to create a beautiful rainbow landscape. 

When visiting Valley of Fire State Park, I would recommend making the visitor center, located near the center of the park and open from 8:30am-4:30pm daily your first stop.  At the visitor center, you can pick up a helpful map and visitor guide, learn about the park’s history, plants and animals, see some of the cool wildlife up close, look around their small gift shop, and talk to someone at the help desk if needed.  Don’t forget to fill up your water bottles and also take the small hike out back up to an impressive sight!

Valley of Fire State Park can be done pretty easily as a day trip – a lot of the notable features including Elephant Rock, the arch and Fire Canyon can be viewed from the road and most of the main trails are only about 1 mile long, making it possible to hike multiple trails in 1 day.  However, you could spend many days in the park and still not get bored, there is so much to see! It’s super important to practice Leave No Trace and plan ahead and prepare for your visit.  Fall, winter and early spring are good times to go if you plan to get out and hike as temperatures in the summer months usually exceed 100 degrees, making it dangerous to be outside for too long.  Proper footwear is also important as desert plants can be quite poky and many of the trails are located in desert washes making them extremely sandy (not fun if you are wearing tennis shoes). 

The Fire Wave is another notable feature in the park which can be accessed on the Fire Wave trail which is only 1.5 miles, but don’t be fooled though - lack of shade and extreme temperatures in the summer can make this trail extremely dangerous.

My favorite trail in the park is White Domes, located at the end of the road going north out of the visitor’s center.  This trail is about 1.25 miles long and takes you through an old movie sight and super cool slot canyon.  Another one of my favorite places in the park is the Rainbow Vista trail.  The trail itself is cool but the overlook view at the end which gives the trail its name is amazing!  Ancient Indian artwork can be found all around the park, but taking a quick hike down the Mouse Tank trail is definitely one of the best ways to see a lot all together.  It’s fun trying to “read” the petroglyphs left by the ancient people.  Other cool features in the park include massive petrified wood logs, crypobiotic soil, and tons of desert wildlife including lizards, tarantulas, and big horn sheep.

Camping at Valley of Fire is a unique experience that I definitely recommend.  If you are going with a big group and are up for planning your trip WAY in advance, you can call and try to reserve one of the three big group use sights which are AMAZING!  They book up pretty fast though and are hard to get especially on the weekends.  Don’t stress though, the park has 2 other first-come campsites with 72 units and additional RV spots that are also really cool to stay at. 

So, whether you are just going for the day or staying for a while, Valley of Fire State Park is definitely worth the trip!

 Happy Trails!