Prior to leaving for Las Vegas, I did some research and found that Hertz was offering Mustang GT’s as part of their Adrenaline Collection with unlimited mileage. The plan was to rent one out and drive to the Hoover Dam before continuing on to the Grand Canyon.
Ya, that didn’t happen.
So bright and early, my buddy Chris and I show up at Hertz, all excited to take out the Mustang, and the car wasn’t “ready”. Great. With no other adrenaline collection cars available, my half-Calabrian mind immediately began spiraling downwards into despair, calculating just how quickly my luck in Vegas had already run out – two days into my trip. Then I hear, we can give you the Corvette. Amazing! The Hertz rep kindly upgraded us to their special edition, yellow with black stripe Corvette ZHZ, honoring the unlimited mileage and price our original reservation and waiving the extra driver charge for good measure.
Did I care that the car was 436hp, or that it had paddle shifters or selective ride control. No. I didn’t care to look any of that up until I began writing this. All I kept thinking was that I’m in a Corvette convertible in Las Vegas with unlimited mileage! As we pulled out of the garage, top down (big mistake), we decided instead to check out Valley of Fire State Park, a recommendation from our cab driver earlier that morning. Admittedly, neither Chris nor I knew anything of this place but the cabby did say something about nice turns and red rocks… he had me at nice turns. After a short blast through the strip, taking it all in, it was off to the interstate.
Heading north along the I-15 we quickly realized that we were searing in our seats and the only idiots in a convertible with the top down. The temp gauge in the car was reading 112F or 44.4C – unbearable, even with the AC blasting. Right blinker. Soft shoulder. 20 seconds. Top back up.
Turning off the interstate at Exit 75, I quickly mounted my GoPro to the windshield before continuing along the Valley of Fire Highway. It’s only about a 10-12 mile stretch to the entrance of the state park but enough open desert surrounding us to remind me of Vanishing Point (1971).
Although you can’t really hear it in the video, the ‘Vette is equipped with a dual mode exhaust that kicks in around 3500 rpm. The gentle purr of the V8 is easy on the ears all day. However, pushing it above 3500 opens a second exhaust outlet, churning out a throaty rumble that’s highly addictive. Just don’t open’er up when passing a bike cop or six.
We reach the gate and stop to pay our entrance fee – $10 daily for cars.
From there, we could see the Mars colored rock formations in the distance but still had little expectations as to what else we’d see or what the drive would be like.
Driving deeper into the state park we found what I can only describe as miles and miles of driving bliss through the infernal red sandstone of the Mojave. Thank you Mr. Cab Driver.
Check out the entire route map below. Las Vegas to Valley of Fire State Park (A-B).