Women enjoying Fire Canyon Overlook

Hiking the Silica Dome – Valley of Fire

The Silica Dome is a popular spot within the Valley of Fire, especially if you are a Star Trek fan. This short hike leads to the summit of the Silica Dome and offers sweeping views of Fire Canyon within the Valley of Fire.

In this guide:

Silica Dome Quick Stats

Trail DescriptionOut and back
LocationFire Canyon/ Silica Dome, Valley of Fire, Overton, NV 89040
Parking LotFire Canyon, Overton, NV 89040
Round Trip Mileage~1.0 miles
DifficultyModerate (due to scrambling at Silica Dome)
Elevation Gain~230 feet
Best time to visitOctober through April
Amenities at trailheadParking, information boards, primitive bathrooms, trash receptacle, picnic tables
Entrance Fee$10 per vehicle ($15 for non-NV vehicles)

(Pricing subject to change)

We’ve done several hikes in the Valley of Fire, such as the White Domes and Rainbow Vista trails, but hadn’t checked out the Silica Dome nor the Fire Canyon lookout.

We knew the area had ties to Star Trek before we went, but didn’t research exactly what that meant. So, before we get into the trail, here’s how the area became known as a “Star Trek Pilgramage Site.”

Silica Dome summit
Silica Dome (Eastern side)

What does the Silica Dome have to do with Star Trek?

When you look at Google Maps, it says the Fire Canyon parking lot is a “Star Trek Pilgrimage Site.”

This is because the Silica Dome was used to shoot a scene in the seventh film, Star Trek Generations. The clip shows a series of catwalks on Veridian III (aka the Silica Dome) as Kirk and Picard battle to stop the evil Dr. Soran.

In the photo below, you can see the top of the Silica Dome to the left (where Picard is standing).

Valley of Fire filming location
Scene from the movie (Left to Right, Picard, Dr. Soran, Kirk)

This bridge was later donated to the park and can be found on the Old Arrowhead Rd Historical Trail. You can see the location on Google Maps here or watch this short video on how to find it here.

You can also watch the final scene of the film here.

{{ Spoiler alert }}

We wouldn’t find this out until we had long been home from our hike, but the Silica Dome’s summit is also marked on Google Maps as “Captain Kirk’s Grave.”

This is because the film ends with Dr. Soran defeated and Kirk dying in the battle. Picard buries him on top of the Silica Dome (we’re not sure how he got him back up there after his fall, but let’s ignore that).

A YouTuber documented his journey to recreate the scene which you can watch here.

If you don’t want to watch the entire 26 minute video, you can see remnants of the damage done from filming crew at time stamps 13:14 and 15:20.

The film took place in 1994 and we’d be surprised if something like this would be allowed today as it seemed quite destructive.

What to expect on the Silica Dome trail

We arrived at the Fire Canyon parking area at 10 a.m. on a Saturday. There were already a few cars in the lot. If you’re planning on checking out Fire Canyon or the Silica Dome hike, we recommend hitting this spot early as the parking lot is small.

We checked out the information sign boards at the trailhead and decided to enjoy the Fire Canyon lookout before hiking the Silica Dome trail.

The Fire Canyon lookout is directly in front of you as you leave the parking area. It’s a short walk down to the viewing area. Even if you decide not to hike the Silica Dome, we highly recommend doing the short walk to the Fire Canyon lookout. In fact, it’s what the majority of the visitors end up doing.

Man hiking towards Fire Canyon
Walking to the Fire Canyon lookout
Fire Canyon
Fire Canyon (Silica Dome in the distance to the left)

We grabbed our obligatory photos and enjoyed the spot with several other park visitors before heading out to find the dome.

The trail starts near the parking area and you can either go up the road behind the restrooms, or like we did, follow the trail that leads south from the parking area.

Below is a map of our route (if you can’t see it, click here to view on Google Maps):

The park asks that you do you do not walk in cryptobiotic soils and stay on trails to prevent erosion.

Cryptobiotic Soils – “Throughout the desert, you will find patches of a black crust on the soil. This is a community of algae, lichens, mosses and cyanobacteria that cement the soil together. It provides nutrients for plants and seeds, and increases the soil topography which allows greater moisture absorption. This crust is only a few millimeters thick and is easily destroyed when walked on. Recovery can take between 7 and 250 years. Please don’t walk on it.”

The trail heads slightly to the east and slopes downward until you reach an old road (that was likely used for the film crew).

Man walking down a desert trail
Heading east down the trail
Fire Canyon Lookout from Silica Dome trail
Looking back towards Fire Canyon lookout

Take a right when you reach the road and continue until you get closer to the dome.

Partially washed out road to Silica Dome
Old road heading South

You’ll see a faint trail to your right which leads to the dome area. We were glad to have Alltrails on this hike as the trail was often times faint or non-obvious.

Path to Silica Dome
Turn right towards the dome

Along the way, you can enjoy various rock formations and views of Fire Canyon.

Jagged rocks in Valley of Fire
Silica Dome to the right
Red sandstone hills in the distance
View of Fire Canyon from Silica Dome trail

How did the Silica Dome get its name? The sandstone formation shaped as a dome is made of sand grains that are almost pure silica. Silica is one of the most common minerals on earth and is found in many types of materials such as beach sand, glass and granite. While silica dust is quite hazardous to humans, the larger forms are less hazardous as they are too large to inhale. That being said, maybe visiting on a windy day isn’t the best idea.

As you get close to the dome, the trail becomes almost non-existent and the terrain steeper.

We ended up going to the left of dome as it appeared easier to hike up.

Silica Dome to the right
We went up to the left side of this photo
Valley of Fire
View from near the summit (looking east)
View from Silica Dome
View from near the summit (looking southeast)

After viewing the eastern side of dome area, we contemplated trying to get to the summit. I was reluctant after seeing the sign warning visitors not to hurt the fragile ecosystem. What I didn’t remember was we were only asked not to walk on the Cryptobiotic Soils, not the silica itself.

Because of that, we never attempted to reach the summit. We believe it’s accessible from the western side of the dome and from what saw online, it does require some light scrambling. We felt the silica was a mix of “sticky” to “incredibly slippery” where light rocks and dust had gathered on the surface.

If you do go, we recommend watching your step, taking your time and wearing grippy shoes.

If we had it to do over again, we would try for the summit, as the views from up there are spectacular (as seen from the film).

Red Rock formations
Southern view

We decided to head back at this point, as we still had some exploring to do in the park.

On the way back, we mostly retraced our steps, however took a slightly different path once reaching the road. The road takes you on the back side of the loop to the parking area.

Here are a few photos on our return trip.

Desert trail in Valley of Fire
Heading back to the parking area
White rock dome formation
Rock formation along the trail
Looking north towards parking area
Parking area seen from the trail
Gravel road approaching Fire Canyon parking lot
Back side of the loop approaching the parking area
Road with barrier saying no parking
Restricted vehicle access

Is the Silica Dome Trail and Fire Canyon lookout worth it?

Rating: 3.5

What we liked:

  • While the Fire Canyon lookout is quite popular, few venture all the way up to the Silica Dome. We were quite fortunate to enjoy the trail all to ourselves after leaving the Fire Canyon area.
  • The Valley of Fire red rock formations never disappoint, and this particular area is quite stunning.

What we didn’t like:

  • The trail isn’t well marked, and getting to the top of the Silica Dome requires some light scrambling.
  • There’s no shade on the trail and the area gets extremely hot in the summer.

Practical Information for your trip

Current trail conditions

  • Check Alltrails for recent trail conditions.
  • Check Valley of Fire’s website for any closures.
  • Check the weather for temperature forecasts.
Fire Canyon Road on a sunny day
Fire Canyon Road

What to bring

Be sure to check the weather conditions and pack appropriately.  This is what we brought for this hike:

Standard Gear:

Special Items of note:

  • Hiking Boots or closed toe shoes – The trail was a mix of sand and slippery rocks on the silica portion of the trail. We recommend shoes with good grip.
  • Clothing – Be sure to bring appropriate clothing for rapidly changing conditions.  In the hot summer months, bring sunglasses, a hat and wear sunscreen.
  • Water / Snacks – There is no running water available at the trailhead. Bring plenty of water (especially in the hot summer months) and extra snacks.
  • Navigation – We use Alltrails (no affiliation) on all our hikes. The trail was not well marked and we were glad to have it. The good news is you can see where you came from, so you’re not likely to get lost, but you should always have a navigation source with you.


Parking is free once you’ve entered the park.

There is only one parking lot for this trailhead and it’s incredibly small. It’s a popular spot due to the link of the Star Trek movies. Most people tend to come for the Fire Canyon lookout and leave, but if anyone stays for the hike, parking will be a problem.

There is parking for less than fifteen vehicles.

Aerial view of parking area here.

Parking lot
Parking area

Entrance Fees

Valley of Fire is a Nevada State Park and requires an entry for access. Once in the park, you can park for free in any designated parking area.

The entrance fee is currently $10 per vehicle. ($15 non-NV vehicles). While a reservation isn’t currently required, it is coming sometime in 2023. Current information about fees can be found here.

All pricing is subject to change.

Restrooms at Silica Dome parking area
Primitive Restrooms

Trailhead Amenities

You won’t find a lot of trailhead amenities here, but luckily there are a few.

  • Primitive restrooms
  • Trash receptacles
  • Picnic tables
  • Information sign boards
  • Limited Parking

More information about your trip to the Valley of Fire

White Domes Trail in Overton NV
The End of the Rainbow Vista Trail
Mouses Tank Petroglyph Canyon Trail Valley of Fire
Exploring Atlatl Rock in Valley of Fire

Have you been to the Valley of Fire?

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