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Reno/Lake Tahoe, Nevada

Reno

Great Destination:

4

Value for Money:

3.5

Total Stars:

7.5

Personality Types that Like it Best

The middle of the scale like it most, i.e., Centric-Venturers and Centric Authentics

Did You Know…?

  • Comstock produced $400 million worth of silver; today, there are 31 Comstock cemeteries.
  • Reno is slightly west of Los Angeles.
  • Lake Tahoe is 1,685 feet deep but between 6,220 and 6,230 feet above sea level.
  • Reno originated as a railroad station and was named for a general killed in the Civil War.
  • Jacob Davis of Reno made the first Levis, then obtained a patent with Levi Strauss.

A taste of the West

Reno, Carson City and Virginia City occupy the angle of Nevada that borders Lake Tahoe, a lake that in turn spills over into California.  Here a combination of the beautiful scenery in the lake area and the ambience of America’s West offer the traveler a wide choice of activities and attractions. Visitors like this variety, which ranges from gambling and skiing to a chance to visit historic ranches and mines. They are also quite happy with the overall sense this is a clean, unspoiled place with a low crime rate and friendly people.

Nevada’s Reno/Tahoe area couldn’t be more different (gambling aside) from Las Vegas, about 250 miles southeast. This area appeals to all personality types, a fact that reflects the diversity of attractions.

In 1859 silver was discovered in the Comstock mines near Virginia City, turning the region into a major mining center. Mark Twain (then using his real name, Samuel Clemens) worked as a journalist in Virginia City and subsequently immortalized these Nevada mining camps in several stories. Television later did its bit to immortalize this piece of the West in the long-running drama “Bonanza.”

Nearby Reno bills itself as “the biggest little city in the world” and became infamous for offering quickie divorces. Visitors can gamble there; the place doesn’t have the Vegas glitz, but it costs less for tourists. Reno puts on several annual crowd-pleasing events:

  • International Jazz Festival in March.
  • Reno Rodeo in June.
  • Nevada State Fair in August.
  • Great Balloon Race in early September.
  • National Championship Air Races in mid-September.

All this fun is complemented by what many think is the most beautiful resort area in the country, Lake Tahoe. Surrounded by the Sierra Nevada and Carson mountain ranges, with pine trees on slopes that end right at the clear crystal blue water, Tahoe offers alpine-style natural beauty and about anything a water sports enthusiast wants. For skiers, the Reno/Tahoe area is a winter sports paradise.

Any time of year, venturesome travelers love the area’s high lonesome beauty, its feeling of isolation and the variety of activities that appeal to energetic personalities.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Take a half-day whitewater rafting trip on any of several rivers, or choose a much more ambitious itinerary, lasting several days. Or, waterski on Lake Tahoe.
  • Stretch your biking legs on the still-expanding Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway. When completed, it will extend from Lake Tahoe through Reno-Sparks and on to Pyramid Lake.
  • Even those who don’t fancy museums should like this one. The Nevada Gambling Museum in Virginia City features more than half a million dollars’ worth of gaming memorabilia, including more than 100 antique slot machines, cheating devices and gamblers’ weapons.
  • Take a full- or half-day guided horseback ride through beautiful country. Take riding lessons if necessary. Choose a spirited horse if that is your speed.
  • Rent a camel from the Nevada Camel Company in a town called Stagecoach for a self-guided camel safari.
  • Participate in the Burning Man Festival, a weeklong art fest held at the end of summer in a temporary community called Black Rock City in the Black Rock Desert, 120 miles north of Reno. It is self-described as “dedicated to radical self-expression and radical self-reliance.” You have to bring all supplies to survive at what is essentially a campsite for about 25,000 people, and transportation on site is generally by bicycle.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Visit the Julia C. Bullette Red Light Museum in Virginia City. It tells the story of one Ms. Bullette and her brothel, with what one may call fitting displays. This is not a family excursion.
  • See the National Automobile Museum in Reno. It presents more than 200 classic cars, interactive exhibits and a research library.
  • The Virginia and Truckee Railroad operates a steam-train ride from Virginia City into the Comstock mining region. Get on board for its 35-minute narrated run. On select days, you also can ride a steam train at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City.
  • Make this your ski destination, then make fine dining, gambling and/or shows your apres-ski activities.
  • Attend the Virginia City Camel Races in September. Don’t be fooled by the name; the event also includes ostrich and water buffalo races, plus food and daily parades.
  • In Virginia City, take the Chollar Mine Tour, featuring the fifth-largest producer in the area’s Comstock Lode. Alternatively, take the Ponderosa Saloon Mine Tour, a guided, 20-minute look at the Best & Belcher mine.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Go fishing on Pyramid Lake.
  • Treat yourself to the self-guided tour called Northern Nevada Heritage Corridor Driving Guide — Boom or Bust, which focuses on the effects on the area of the Comstock silver mines that made many people rich and drew many more to the territory.
  • Attend and cheer on participants at Virginia City’s goofy World Championship Outhouse Races, held in October. Racers do their thing (one person riding, teammates pushing or pulling the outhouse) right on main street.
  • Take the scenic drive along U.S. Highway 50, which runs east-west through Carson City. As you travel that route, you are following fairly closely the route of the Pony Express, which was used to carry mail between St. Joseph, Mo., and Sacramento, Calif., from April 1860 to October 1861.
  • Play golf on one, or several, of the area’s 50 golf courses.
  • Tour Carson City on foot following the Kit Carson Trail (marked with a blue line and bronze medallions) through a large historical residential district. Through locally available AM radio frequencies, you can tune in for “Talking Houses” tales, 90-second narratives that highlight the stories of 24 houses.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority at www.VisitRenoTahoe.com