Washoe County consists of the entire Reno, Sparks and North Lake Tahoe region. And, yes; people actually live here! Close to 450,000 northern Nevadans call Reno Tahoe USA “home,” and 5 million more travel here for vacation, and on business, each year. We’ve recently been named as a Top Value and Ski Destination by a variety of national publications, and our restaurants and breweries are regularly commended by their peers.
Lake Tahoe rests in the High Sierra, 6,200-feet above sea level, and is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. The Sierra Nevada Mountains crest much higher, but you can hike up to 11,000 feet in the Reno Tahoe area, and the quick, 40-minute drive down into Reno takes you over Mt. Rose Summit, which offers spectacular lake and valley views, at just under 10,000 feet. This elevation also makes for great skiing at our 18 ski resorts, and, during the warmer months, your balls will fly just a bit further at any of the area’s 50 golf courses.
The Truckee River flows from North Lake Tahoe through the heart of downtown Reno, where the Riverwalk District plays host to great shops, restaurants and special events, such as Artown and the Reno River Festival. Other special events account for millions of visitors each, and span roughly 290 days each year! The City of Sparks is a sister-city of Reno, and regularly hosts huge, annual special events, as well as national sporting competitions. And let’s not forget about Burning Man! With Black Rock City less than three hours away, Reno Tahoe is the gateway to Burning Man. Tens-of-thousands of Burners come through the region, loading up on supplies on the way in and getting some rest and a clean shower on the way out, every year.
Reno Tahoe USA wouldn’t be the tourism draw it has become without the phenomenal families who’ve dedicated their lives to providing luxurious resort amenities for travelers here in the Truckee Meadows. With 11 major resorts, Reno Tahoe is one of the most unexpected locations to find five-star dining, world-class spas and great, nightly entertainment all over the region!
Wherever there is a chance, somebody will take it. Wherever there is a risk, somebody will make it. Wherever there is a way to win, somebody will attempt it. In Nevada, you can bet on it, and we’ve been betting on Reno Tahoe for as long as anyone can remember!
Long before there was a town called Reno, the Washoe, Paiute and Shoshone Tribes who camped along the Truckee River would bet on games and contests when they gathered for traditional festivals and ceremonies. That fun-loving wagering nature continued in the region until 1910, when the Nevada “Progressives” group succeeded in banning gambling throughout the state. From there, gaming went underground until 1931, when the state decided it needed gambling’s help to break out of the depression.
In the late 1850’s, gold and silver were discovered in nearby Virginia City, NV, where the Comstock Lode drove much of America’s western migration. Reno was founded in 1868, when the western section of the Central Pacific Railroad was completed. (Fun fact: Reno is west of Los Angeles.)
- 1844-First recorded sighting of Lake Tahoe by a non-Native American, John Fremont's exploration party led by "Kit" Carson
- 1859-Comstock Lode is discovered in Virginia City
- 1861-Gold rush tapers off, silver rush begins with discovery of one of the largest silver strikes in the world
- 1864-Nevada becomes a state
- 1868-Central Pacific railroad reaches what is now Reno after crossing the Sierra from Sacramento
- 1880-90-Populaton dwindles by 35% as mining declines
- 1890s-Lake Tahoe becomes popular retreat for the wealthy from San Francisco, Sacramento and Virginia City
- 1903-Reno is incorporated. Named after Civil War General Jesse Reno
- 1904-Sparks is founded by Central Pacific Railroad. It is built in one day after railroad sells lots to employees for just a dollar
- 1910-"Progressives" group succeeds in banning gambling. Reno then becomes known for "quickie divorces"
- 1926-Original "Reno Arch" is put in place
- 1931-Gambling is again legalized to boost economy during the depression
- 1936-Harolds Club opens in downtown Reno
- 1942-Bill Harrah adds slot machines, a crap table and a blackjack game to his downtown gaming parlor
- 1945-By action of The California State legislature, Lake Tahoe becomes the official name of the lake
- 1965-Centennial Coliseum opens. Today this facility is known as the Reno-Sparks Convention Center
- 1970s-The world's largest hotel-casino to date is built in Reno-the MGM Grand
- 1995-National Bowling stadium is completed.
The sustained growth of the northern Nevada economy can be attributed to the constant improvement and expansion of Reno Tahoe’s gaming and resort establishments. Reno, Sparks and North Lake Tahoe have about 15,500 high-quality hotel rooms, which is a huge amount considering a total population base of less than 500,000. We have 11 major resort hotels, which average about seven restaurants apiece. Reno Tahoe resorts have a strong local ownership, which keeps the decision-makers in-house, translating in a regional competition between owners to stay ahead of the pack. Local Casino Resorts have pumped $1 billion into their properties over the last 10 years: room renovations, restaurants, nightclubs, etc.
Nevada has no corporate, personal, unitary, inventory or franchise taxes, making the state very attractive to new and existing businesses. Reno Tahoe USA is also centrally located in the western U.S., making the region very attractive for distribution companies, and recently becoming a hub of growth in the technology industry.
Tesla is bringing 6,500 jobs via a 5 million sq. ft., $5 BILLION lithium ion battery factory east of Sparks. Apple has committed to investing $1 billion worth of data storage centers in the region over the next 10 years, and Switch recently announced a $1 billion expansion of its data centers into the Reno area as well. Amazon is moving a nearby distribution center to the Reno area, and real estate data analytics company Clear Capital is moving 400 jobs into downtown Reno, right across the street from Triple-A Baseball’s Reno Aces Stadium. As a federally-approved drone-testing state, more than 400 jobs have already been created in the UAS industry.
Tourism is still the number-one industry in the state, and the local airport is making strides in supporting the influx of national, and international, visitors. The Reno-Tahoe International Airport pumped $26 million into restaurants, baggage and security, and, after many years, again has direct, international flights to cities such as Guadalajara, London and New York City. Reno-Tahoe International airport personnel are extremely aggressive in pursuing new flights to increase traffic, and ease of access, to Reno Tahoe, and continue working to attract additional nonstop flights.
Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada