Reno’s proximity to other great destinations for day trips is both charming and a little dumbfounding. You might liken the Biggest Little City in the World to the hub of a wagon wheel — one with spokes that lead to outdoor gems and family fun in all directions.
Ready to hit the road? We’ve sorted a few options no more than about an hour’s drive from downtown, and many are great for nature lovers and road-trippers alike. Such is Reno.
The Mount Rose ski facility is actually located on Slide Mountain, across from its namesake — just to confuse you — and is a go-to destination less than an hour from downtown Reno. Mount Rose Ski Tahoe is low-key and beginner-friendly, and offers great beauty without the aloofness of a resort. Advanced skiers love it, too. If you’re not into falling on purpose, you can try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing nearby.
Pyramid Lake is on a Paiute Tribe reservation, and gets it name from one of the large natural rock formations on its banks. This uncannily quiet, meditative spot is home to jewel-toned water, eerie lore and the Lahontan cutthroat trout, which was once believed to be extinct. Crowds aren’t a problem, but avoid holidays and weekends if you’re seeking true solitude.
Nevada’s governmental hub, Carson City, is a small town — far smaller than Reno or Vegas — and a quaint slice of history and state politics that’s home to walkable museums and other downtown attractions. Visitors and locals alike love rafting and kayaking along the Carson River, too, and scouting the area’s many scenic hiking and biking trails.
Exquisite Lake Tahoe spans the Nevada-California border, and is a popular destination for travelers the world over. You’ll find jaw-dropping views year-round, all manner of trail heads nearby, and boating, swimming and standup paddle-boarding in mild weather. Do your best to avoid big holidays, of course, as Spring Break and Memorial Day weekend are especially crowded.
The Reno area’s mustangs are world famous, and their federal protection spurs much dispute among ranchers, the Bureau of Land Management and folks who hope to protect these living symbols of Americana. You may spot bands of them in the hills on the outskirts of town, but a sighting is never guaranteed. To play cowboy or cowgirl and mount a steed of your own, don’t miss a trail ride at Verdi Trails West — a sprawling, state-line ranch just west of Reno.
Geothermal energy is big in Northern Nevada, and it even helps power the sprawling Peppermill casino. For a more authentic soak, though, you’ll want to hit Steamboat Hot Springs. Native Americans, miners and the likes of Mark Twain all visited this geothermal spot at one time or another, and at just 20 minutes from Midtown Reno, it’s not an out-of-the-way day trip so much as a fine way to spend a long afternoon.
Historic Virginia City is an old mining town and a worthwhile, family-friendly tourist trap —the sort of place where you buy taffy from a barrel, see legit artifacts and have your picture taken next to a donkey in pajamas. The carsick-prone among you should ride in the front seat as the drive includes many switchbacks, but the trek itself is part of the adventure, with soaring views and lovely overlooks.
Few tourists realize the Reno area’s environs are replete with ancient petroglyphs and art from some of our earliest residents. Grimes Point Archeological Site is just outside Fallon, Nevada, for example, and dubbed of the easiest petroglyph sites to visit in the United States. Hidden Cave should be part of your trip, too, if you’re able to schedule a tour.
Reno’s Pretty Horses: Mustangs and Trail Rides … Paying homage to the American West’s living icons in Reno