Valley of Fire top Instagrammable photo spots! electric car review: EV cars rentals from Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Welcome to planet Mars! While in Las Vegas, I got a taste of the future of travel… by renting an electric vehicle from Halo.Car. We took the EV on a road trip to Valley of Fire, where we hiked the Fire Wave and shot photos in the most Instagram-worthy locations.

Read on for the (literally) red-hot adventure — and see my Instagram reel here for videos of our journey to the Nevada state park!

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At this stage in The Collapse, it’s nigh time that we move away from fossil fuels. If you’re in Las Vegas, booking a rental car from Halo.Car is the way to go for many reasons: 

– It’s easy to use Halo’s app or site to book the EV, and select where you want it delivered. Halo Car has a fleet of Kia Niros and Chevy Bolts, which you can rent by the day or hour.
– The staff drops off the electric vehicle right to you in Vegas, and helps you get set up. also has driverless delivery (domo arigato, Mr Roboto!)
– Charging an EV is simple, and costs far less than gas — yay for the environment and your wallet.

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By having a rental in Vegas, we were able to do day trips and explore outside the Strip. It only took about an hour to drive to Valley of Fire, the remarkable Jurassic-era state park located northeast of Sin City.

Outfit details: Protecting my eyes with DMY by DMY Billy sunglasses and a Lack of Color wave bucket hat. My purple dress with big bell sleeves is BlackMilk. Photos by Joey Wong, shot with a Nikon mirrorless camera.

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Located in the Mojave Desert, Valley of Fire known for its brilliant red sandstone formations that date back 150 million years. The park covers 46,000 acres, so be prepared to spend a day here driving to the various natural attractions. (The entry costs $10 for Nevada vehicles, which is $5 less than the regular fee — we qualified, as we had a local Halo car!)

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If you’re keen to take pictures at the most photogenic Valley of Fire locations, steer over to Mouse’s Tank Road. Chances are you have seen this scenic path on Instagram, framed by canyons and colorful rocks.

My purple dress is Blackmilk Clothing (Spectre Violet style). Find my DMY by DMY Billy sunglasses and Lack of Color wave bucket hat below.

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You’ll need a car to access and explore Valley of Fire. Our Halo.Car had GPS and maps on its digital dashboard, making it easy for us to navigate. (It also had a USB plug so that we could blast Italo Disco MP3s!)

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Joyful road trip vibes. Valley of Fire is a photographer’s dream — it’s full of Instagrammable spots like this one at Mouse Tank Road. (All images Joey Wong.)

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Nature’s design is fascinating, isn’t it? Above are the Beehives, or layers of sandstone that developed grooved lines because of the different layers of silt deposits, which were affected by wind or water.

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Valley of Fire is a bona fide Jurassic Park — the bright red sandstone dates back to this dinosaur period. Then, about 11,000 years ago, humans entered the scene and carved petroglyphs into the rocks.

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Watch out for stinging scorpions… but say hello to the friendly desert wildlife, such as iguanas and lizards.

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Needless to say, the Valley of Fire lives up to its name — temperatures are hot as hell! Come during the colder months of the year to avoid burning up, and wear tons of sun protection. (I only took off the hat for this quick photo.)

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Bring lots of water and electrolytes, and make sure your electric car is charged up — there’s no cell or WiFi reception here.  The high temperatures are no joke: we saw signs that said “Extreme heat warning, you might die.”

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We got lucky, and came on a May day that had some breeze and clouds. Still, you can expect temperatures of close to 40 degrees Celsius.

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The alien landscape is unlike anything I’ve seen. Check out the contrast of the gray, tan, and red Aztec limestone, as well as soft red sand.

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The Nevada state park also contains ancient petrified trees, and tufts of heat-resistant bushes (primarily creosote, burro and brittlebush),

Find my fashion below:

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Hiking the Valley of Fire feels like walking on another planet. The terrain ranges from hard red rock to soft sand with pebbles. We did half of the Fire Wave trail, which is a 1.5-mile loop (we went to the famous waves formations and back).

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I changed to a more hike-appropriate outfit (tennis dress, kimono, backpack, and sneakers). The trail was moderately difficult, and it was hot out there…

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… but we made it! Here is are the otherworldly striped sandstone peaks, which you can climb for cinematic photos. It’s named the Fire Wave because of the ocean-like ripples.

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Keep in mind that the Fire Wave trail (and other parts of Valley of Fire) are closed during the hottest months of the year, so check for closure announcements before you go.

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It can be difficult to stay on the trail, as the path isn’t paved or clearly demarcated. Look for piles of stones with a rod on top; these serve as markings to keep you going in the right direction.

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I’m not usually an outdoors / nature person, but I’m trying to be more endured to the heat and tough conditions to better survive The Collapse… The Fire Wave hike was great practice for our Mad Max future.

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We got “Vegased-out” after a few days in Sin City, so it was a joy to get out and do a road trip to Valley of Fire Park (an hour away).

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We stopped to charge our electric Halo.Car at an Electrify America charging station. Charging the rental EV was simple: look up nearby stations on your dashboard map…

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.. then plug it in, wait for the charge to get up to 80%, and pay with a credit card. We ate and did errands while we waited (I got collagen drinks, colloidal bandages and Mr Beast cookies), and the cost was far lower than if we had rented a gas-guzzler.

To see the Halo EV car charging in action, check out my reel on Instagram @lacarmina.

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Dropping off the rental EV was a breeze: just park it anywhere in Vegas, let Halo Car know the drop-off point, and the staff will come pick it up! We left the EV on the top of the Aria parking lot.

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Cheers to Halo.Car — their on-demand EV car-sharing service was a fabulous experience, and enabled us to have a road trip to remember!

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Thanks to Halo’s short-term electric car rentals, we were able to do day trips from Vegas while going green and saving money on gas.

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Keep Halo.Car in mind if you’re coming to Las Vegas, Nevada so that you can do a road trip like ours… Have you seen images of Valley of Fire before? Would you hike this Martian landscape?


Filed Under Arizona, Fashion

Alternative Las Vegas: Immersive art & Instagrammable spots! Nirvana Hotel, Fantasy Lab, RuPaul’s Drag Race Live review.

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Thanks for the love for my writing debut in The New York Times! I found out I was published in the NY Times while staying at the peaceful Nirvana Hotel in Las Vegas (hence the lotus flower in the back).

In this post, let me take you on an alternative journey through Las Vegas — which skips the typical tourist spots and focuses on wellness hotels, innovative art, and drag queen shows! 

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Photographer Joey and I wanted a quieter and more personalized experience in Vegas, so we stayed at the Nirvana Hotel. The family-run bed and breakfast has a wonderful location (it’s on the LV Strip, across from Mandalay Bay) — but without the chaos of casinos and crowds.

(Wearing these DMY by DMY Billy sunglasses, under the Nirvana sign. See links below:)

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And instead of seeing the typical tourist shows, we got immersed in digital art at Fantasy Lab, and cheered on the queens at RuPaul’s Drag Race Live! Read on for reviews, which I hope get you inspired to make an alt, offbeat trip to Sin City.

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When in Vegas… why not wear flamboyant feathers and platforms? My houndstooth mini dress is by Sourpuss Clothing, and the black platform sandals are by Anthony Wang Shoes.

My DMY by DMY Billy thin rectangular sunglasses have a minimalist 1990s look. Find them below:

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Nirvana Hotel is a family-run property that opened up earlier this year. True to their name, everything is designed to ensure you have a rejuvenating stay (it’s an oasis in wild Vegas). Guests can relax in the courtyard areas, which have artistic, spiritual decorative touches that add to the feeling of peace.

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The rooms are spacious and quiet (there are no clubs, casinos, or crowds of people around, unlike in other hotels).

Every morning, we received a charming breakfast basket that included bottles of water, orange juice, and freshly made meals like breakfast burritos with eggs. The bed and breakfast has a “tranquility room” with unlimited tea and coffee for guests.

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Another plus of staying with Nirvana: free parking in an easily accessible lot — we were able to park our rental car right outside our door. (The big hotels charge an arm and leg, and the valet / ticketing / lots are complicated.)

Nirvana Hotel also employs all-night security, so guests can feel safe at all hours. A kind guard came to greet us and help us get settled, and he was present all night long.

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The back area has a Zen Garden with meditation cushions and art along a winding path.

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The owners puts their hearts into welcoming guests, and personally ensuring they have everything they need for a restful stay at Nirvana Hotel.

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The community atmosphere stood out: I saw guests hanging out in the Zen courtyard and playing games.

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Each room is decorated with lotus flowers in different chakra colors (mine was turquoise).

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Happy memories of kicking back in the large, cozy bed and reading The New York Times. (See my writing in NY for Tiny Love Stories, Modern Love here.)

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Nirvana Hotel is pet friendly, and each room comes with small touches such as bathrobes.

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A place to experience peace, while being on the Las Vegas strip.

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Nirvana Hotel offers free wellness experiences for guests as well, such as morning yoga classes.

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Gratitude to Nirvana Hotel for the zen-like stay in Las Vegas, Nevada!

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Not many travelers realize that Las Vegas is home to fabulous immersive art. We were impressed by Fantasy Lab, a multi-sensory interactive experience that encourages you to awaken your imagination and dream big.

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Located in Vegas’ Fashion Show mall, Fantasy Lab’s timed tickets take you into seven immersive rooms, filled with ever-changing visuals and sounds.

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You can also enjoy fantastical food and cocktails, and play in the 80s-style arcade that has a synthwave feel. (My dress is Ank Rouge, a jirai kei Japanese label.)

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A “dreamer” or guide takes you around to the seven rooms, and you get up to 10 minutes to explore each. The mesmerising decor includes elements on the ceiling, and changing colors and projections.

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Artists collaborated on Fantasy Lab’s immersive rooms, which include these devilish creatures.

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Guests are encouraged to move around, interact with the pieces, and take photos as the elements transform. (Here’s a video of Fantasy Lab to give you a sense of what it’s like.)

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Loved the vibe of this room. These are etched glass panels, arranged in a maze with messages in all languages.

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Fantasy Lab is a playground for photographers — you can take fun shots like this against the mirrored walls.

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The rainbow lights pulse to the sounds of synthwave.

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Fantasy Lab’s multimedia is well-executed, and reminds me of Tokyo’s Teamlabs.

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This room made me feel as if I were going on a journey though outer space.

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Check out my Instagram video of Fantasy Lab to see how the visuals shift.

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After, you can visit the restaurant / bar for magic cocktails — like a peaberry flower tincture that changes color as you stir it with rock candy. The glitter is edible dust that gives off as tingling feeling.

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As the Lian Ross Italo disco song goes: “Welcome to my world of fantasy / Come into my world of mystery!” If you’re the type of traveler that prefers culture to casinos, come to Fantasy Lab to be transported into dream-worlds of immersive art.

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As they say… What happens in Vegas… SLAYS in Vegas! I got to see famous drag queens “sissy that walk” at RuPaul’s Drag Race Live, at The Flamingo Hotel Showroom.

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Did you know that RuPaul’s queens had a live show in Las Vegas? A cast of your favorite competitors struts the stage and performs fab musical numbers — while host Asia O’Hara serves up wicked banter with the audience.

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True to the vibe of Vegas, RuPaul’s Drag Race Live is a glamorous production that goes big with makeup, costumes and choreography.

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Derrick Barry, the world’s most famous Britney Spears drag impersonator, slayed.

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Daya Betty dominated the show with her punk meets fetish fierceness.

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Jaida Essence Hall’s Egyptian showgirl lewk was to die for.

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Lawrence Chaney from Drag Race UK always made the audience belly-laugh. Check out my video of the show for clips of the action! Here’s where you can get tickets for RuPaul’s Drag Race Live at the Flamingo Vegas.

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Let’s wrap up with snaps from some of Las Vegas’ most Instagrammable spots. Mandalay Bay was right across Nirvana Hotel, so it was easy to walk over to take photos.

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I first went to Las Vegas in the 90s, when it was known for these classic theme hotels. So much fun to see the kitschy grandeur and take photos.

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If you’re looking for Instagram photo locations in Las Vegas, you can’t beat the exterior of Luxor (the Egyptian hotel).

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It’s funny to see the Vegas version of ancient Egypt, after going to the actual Avenue of Sphinxes and posing with the real statues.

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Yukiro and I also saw the real Great Sphinx in Giza… The Luxor version still has his nose and color.

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A 90s outfit vibe with baby braids and Matrix sunglasses. My houndstooth black and white dress is by Sourpuss Clothing, and the platform sandals are Anthony Wang.

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The interior of Luxor has just as many photo ops.

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The slanted pyramid walls, neon lights and hieroglyph etchings are cheesy fun.

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Casinos have changed a lot since the 90s… the slot machines are digital now, and there is no handle to pull down. (I lost $10 total, oh well.)

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Do you have a favorite Las Vegas theme hotel?

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The elevators go up at an angle because of the triangular sides!

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Walk like an Egyptian. From Nirvana Hotel, you can walk to other classic Vegas hotels…

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…like Excalibur (King Arthur Medieval castle themed), and New York, New York. I couldn’t resist riding the red roller coaster.

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Viva YASSS Vegas, can I get an amen? More to come from my Sin City adventures, including restaurants and a road trip to Valley of Fire! For videos of the action, find me @LaCarmina on Instagram.