day trips 101 reno tahoe

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101 Random Things to do in Reno Tahoe

Day Trips

“Sure, it was considered modern art. 10,000 years ago.”  

(No. 9) We’re 82 percent sure the sacred messages etched in rock reads “Reno rocks!” Check out the area’s petroglyphs.

Rock art is worldwide and is one of the most visible remains of past human activity, providing a glimpse into the world view and culture of those who created it. These engravings and paintings made on boulders and cliff faces represent one of the most fragile expressions of Nevada's prehistoric and historic cultural heritage.
Considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the western US, the Grimes Point Archeological Area is about 12 miles east of Fallon on Highway 50, approximately 50 miles from the Reno/Sparks metropolitan area.  Many of the petroglyphs in this area may be up to 10,000 years old.

“Keep Pyramid weird.”

(No. 24) Pyramid Lake is 33 miles northeast of Sparks, Nevada via Nevada Route 445 (Pyramid Way)
It’s a prehistoric lake filled with mystery (and Cutthroat Trout!). And it just so happens it is the default photo on the iPad.

Words like "awesome" or "breathtaking" do not fully capture the experience. Many people who discover Pyramid Lake for the first time describe a feeling of being completely at peace. This vast sapphire jewel nestled in the desert mountains is completely different from the Tahoe experience and must-see while in the Reno area.

Pyramid Lake is a component of the National Scenic Byways Program and is the only byway in the nation entirely within a tribal reservation. This route takes the visitor 37 miles along the shore of one of the largest lakes in the world and provides a unique opportunity to learn more about the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe.

Plus, we'll say it again; Pyramid Lake is the default photo on the iPad.

“Excuse me, but there’s a gold nugget in my soup.”  

Virginia City (No. 28) Virginia City is only 26 miles from Reno. Travel up the beautiful, winding NV-341/Geiger Grade Road until you stumble upon the Old Wild West.   

Small mustaches, pinstriped suits and rip-roaring’ piano; it isn’t vaudeville circa 1850; it’s Virginia City, Nevada, where the Wild West lives on. Fueled by the discovery of silver, the historic mining town is where Mark Twain became famous as a writer. Visitors can pan for gold, tour an abandoned mine shaft, have a drink at the Bucket of Blood Saloon, ride the historic V&T Railroad or test the taste buds at the Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival. There ain’t no oysters in the desert. Just a little something to keep in mind as you draw that spoon closer to your mouth.

“It’s like an authentic Hollywood set. Only, ya know, real.”

(No. 30) Historic downtown Truckee For those with an adventurous spirit, welcome to paradise! The Truckee area is the ideal playground for a variety of activities. Be it summer or winter,  you will find plenty to do. Hit the slopes or play a round of golf at one of the area resorts. Need a slower pace, take in the sights with a scenic flight or a day fishing.

Truckee is 33 miles west of Reno along I-80. A gateway to the West for old-world adventurers with unique shopping and historic eateries. Take home a piece of Truckee -- or two, or three, or four! Truckee offers an amazing selection of shopping opportunities from the fabulous and the chic to the practical and the rustic. Truckee offers a complete and unique shopping experience that can be an adventure in itself. Whether you’re looking for a couch for the cabin or clothing, discover  the incredible shopping in Truckee and the surrounding areas.

“Your official ‘I’m king of the world!’ moment.”


(No. 32) Climb Mt. Rose. The view of Reno Tahoe is just better from 10,776 feet. Pack a picnic; this is a day trip you won’t forget.

Mt. Rose is the 2nd highest mountain in the Lake Tahoe Basin and the highest Tahoe Basin peak in Nevada. As you reach the summit on Mt. Rose Highway, SR 431, you'll see the main trailhead, clearly marked with a beautiful, easy to access parking/rest area. The summit parking area rests at an elevation of 8,911 feet. From Reno, the summit is approximately a 25 minute drive. The trailhead has space for nearly 50 cars. There are bathrooms, brochures, and trail maps.

For information on other great trails within Reno or a short drive away, click here.

“Glass bridge, elephant garage…ya know, the usual.”

(No. 56) Thunderbird Lodge, open May – October at 5000 Highway 28, Incline Village, Nevada.
This mansion on Lake Tahoe is impressive. Then you see the 600’ underground tunnel bursting with secrets.

A number of prominent San Franciscans built homes on Lake Tahoe in the 1930s. Among them, real estate tycoon George Whittell, who commissioned Frederic DeLongchamps to build the spectacular Thunderbird Lodge.
Natural stone, wooden roofs, and exposed trusses in the main house and outbuildings highlight a style designed to blend with the natural environment.

The eccentric Whittell had a 600-foot tunnel connecting the main house with the boathouse, as well as passages to the card house and several rooms in the main house. Among the sights available for viewing is his custom, 55- foot, triple planked, mahogany speedboat, the Thunderbird. With a hull and cockpit resembling the fuselage of his personal DC-2 aircraft, the boat would cost $3.3 million in today’s dollars.

Whittell left most of his fortune to animal organizations and the 18,000 acre estate was purchased by Jack Dreyfus of Dreyfus Investments. Del Webb Corporation, of south shore’s Sahara Tahoe fame, acquired the property, which later went to the U.S. Forest Service. The Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society now manages the estate, which can be rented for the ultimate special occasion.Visitors desiring tours of the property can reach the site exclusively via shuttle bus or by tour boat.

“Kick it really old school.”

(No. 63) Genoa is 42 miles south of Reno along Hwy 395.    
The earliest settlement in Nevada has the original Mormon trading post, the state’s oldest bar and an annual celebration with 40,000 pounds of candy.

Genoa played an essential role in the state’s development. It was Nevada’s first formal town as well as home of the state’s first printed newspaper and site of the first territorial government meetings. Today, you can wander the narrow streets of the town to find that nearly every house and building has a story.

The Mormon Station State Historical Monument in the center of Genoa is the most prominent reminder of Genoa’s place in Nevada history. Here, you can find a replica of the original Mormon trading post and fort, which was built in 1851 to provide goods to travelers on the Emigrant Trail.

The Mormon Station is generally recognized as the first permanent building in Nevada. The replica fort, constructed in 1947 on the site of the original, which burned in 1910, contains interpretive historic displays about the area and includes a beautiful, shaded picnic area.

“Look, an ant. Oh wait, that’s a yacht.”

(No. 64) You’ve never seen Lake Tahoe like this. Soar over 22 miles of pure beauty in a glider.

“Wanderlust for life.”

(No. 92) NatGeo Travel named the Tahoe Rim Trail one of America’s Best Adventures. Hike it for a half day or spend two weeks on the 165 miles of trail.

Extending 150 miles through national forest, wilderness and state park land, the Tahoe Rim Trail crosses forests and meadows and skirts the shores of crystalline lakes. At elevations between 6,300 and 10,353 feet, the Tahoe Rim Trail is an experience in clear blue sky, clean air and solitude. It follows the ridge tops to provide outstanding views of the lake and mountains. Spur trails lead to splendid overlooks. The Watson Lake loop of the trail, popular with picnickers, campers and anglers, starts at the Brockway Summit Trailhead off Highway 267. With all but nine miles complete, the trail is open to hikers and equestrians. Mountain bikers are welcome on the entire trail. The trail passes through six counties in two states, through U.S. Forest Service lands, including the Desolation Wilderness, and through Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. It follows a portion of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.

Camping is generally allowed along the trail. However, permits are required in wilderness areas and camping in the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park is at designated campsites only. Although the trail is technically open year-round, winter weather is extreme and activity is usually limited to day treks on snowshoes.

“Ain’t that a kick in the head.”

(No. 96) Cal Neva is located on Crystal Point at 2 Stateline Road Crystal Bay, Nevada 89402
Check out Monroe’s last weekend retreat and Sinatra’s old digs in North Lake Tahoe, including the famous tunnel that once hid his liquor.

Take a tour of the historic resort and find out if the rumors of the Rat Pack are true. While you're there, take a dip in the Resort's swimming pool in Crystal Bay, where you can literally swim from one state to another! 

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