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Desert Companion's 2014 Best of the City issue is out now! Included among the blurbs on the best food, culture, shopping and lifestyle amenities are a few writerly odes to superlative aspects of Las Vegas. In fact, we had so much ode-age, we couldn't fit them all in! Here's a bonus ode to the under-appreciated Valley of Fire -- featuring a cameo by Captain Kirk!

Let the tourists throng west and overrun the paltry pile of Red Rock, for I know where the heart of Southern Nevada truly beats in all its crimson glory. Valley of Fire, your expansive playground of sand and stone, painted not only in rust but cascading hues of purple, yellow and white, calls to me.

You are where I fell in love with the outdoors -- where I fell in love with adventure and exploration -- as a young boy hiking with my dad, climbing through a maze of scarlet monoliths. Now I take others, helping them to bond with you as I did.

I know I was not the first to recognize your charms. Countless petroglyphs, carefully etched into your desert patina, tell tales of bighorn sheep, hunting parties and mystical rituals. As you once sheltered the Southern Paiutes, so you welcome me with some of the finest camping in the desert Southwest. Campsites nestle amid the rocks, while the group sites are isolated enough to let folks make merry while others sleep.

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Even the nerd in me has reason to love, because you played host to one of the biggest events in sci-fi history: In Star Trek Generations, Captain Kirk met his end crushed under a bridge at Silica Dome, with views of Lake Mead glistening in the distance. That bridge is still in use, complete with occasional shrines, along the Arrowhead Loop trail.

Let the nation have Red Rock. For me, and for Las Vegas, we’ll take its bigger, redder cousin to the north: Valley of Fire. 

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