Located 50 mi/80 km northeast of Las Vegas, near one arm of Lake Mead, Overton was founded in 1869 by Mormons who believed the area to be part of Arizona. They left a year later, when the state of Nevada demanded taxes. Previous residents of the area included Paiute Indians and, before them, the Anasazi.

Today, you can visit the partially restored Pueblo Grande de Nevada, the so-called Lost City that was originally built by the Anasazi (its name results from the fact that it wasn't excavated until the 1920s). The Lost City Museum of Archaeology is located at the site. It has one of the most complete collections of early Pueblo Indian artifacts in the Southwest, including a full-scale reconstruction of a pueblo structure.

Just east of Overton is Valley of Fire State Park, which is well worth a visit. The name comes from the formations of red sandstone that seem to blaze in the intense sunlight. Some of the rock faces are covered with Native American petroglyphs, many of them far off the ground. Staircases have been added in some places so that you can get a better look at the drawings. Be sure to stop at the visitors center, which has informative displays about the valley, and take the time to drive the road to Silica Dome, a formation of white rock. Hiking trails are located in the park.

Both Overton and the Valley of Fire can be seen on a day trip from Las Vegas, but we recommend visiting the Valley of Fire around dawn or dusk to enjoy the most intense colors. You might consider staying at the park's campground, nestled among naturally sculptured sandstone towers and giant boulders. We found it impossible to resist scrambling on the oddly shaped rocks.

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