Reno - The Best Adventure Hub No One Talks About
Growing up I spent every summer at my grandparents’ house in Reno. I passed the time browsing through dusty Encyclopedia Britannicas and a few decades worth of National Geographic magazines. I’d cut out pictures of far flung destinations and organize them into intricate collages - this was long before mood boards were en vogue. I wanted to make memories all over the world. To see as many places as possible. To be anywhere but there.
Looking back, I can’t help but smile at the irony. All that time I spent down in my grandparent’s basement, pouring over photos, day dreaming about other places, I was already exactly where I wanted to be. I just couldn’t see it.
All grown up, and a couple years into an unexpected career photographing destinations that only existed in the yellowed encyclopedia pages of my childhood, I’m able to see things with a little more clarity. It’s obvious now, that Reno Tahoe deserved a spot in one of my collages. It is after all, where the largest alpine lake collides with the Biggest Little City in the World! And the result is a beautiful contradiction of high adrenaline activities, burgeoning art scene, and remote solitude.
Whether you want to sleep under the stars in the Black Rock Desert, chill at a hipster cafe overlooking the Truckee River, or cliff dive into Tahoe’s blue abyss, Reno has you covered. It’s a “make your own adventure” situation, where the possibilities are endless. There’s only one thing that’s certain - this isn’t my grandparent’s Reno anymore. Then again, maybe it never was.
With an international airport servicing Reno with non-stop flights from all over the United States, it couldn’t be easier to get to and from your next adventure. But before you head to the desert, or hit the hiking trails, it’s worth exploring the city itself. Reno has undergone a sort of renaissance over the last decade or so, and there’s no better place to get a pulse on the creative, outdoorsy, culture the city is cultivating than by strolling through the Riverwalk District.
Featuring a pedestrian walkway along the Truckee River, the picturesque Riverwalk District is lined with restaurants, cafe’s, and art - lots and lots of art. From giant street murals, to playa art from bygone Burning Man years, there’s no shortage of eye candy to enjoy. So grab a coffee from my personal favorite, the Hub Coffee Roasters, or a pint from the Sierra Taphouse, and just start walking!
If you’re looking to get your adrenaline pumping you can always try surfing. That’s right, surfing! As the only outlet for Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River winds its way down through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, into ‘The Biggest Little City In The World,’ until it finally terminates at Pyramid Lake. Along the way there are a few standing waves suitable for getting your surf on. One of which, is located in Wingfield Park right smack dab in the middle of downtown Reno. Talk about a bucket list item! And if that’s not enough, you can tackle the world's tallest climbing wall at Whitney Peak Hotel
Now that you’ve experienced some of Burning Man’s playa art first hand, it’s time to head out to the place where it all began - Black Rock Desert. Once a year during Burning Man, tens of thousands of people gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. But at any other time of year, this unique landscape offers a special type of solitude that’s hard to find in today’s busy world.
Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and lightly-regulated, the Black Rock Desert provides a refuge for adventurous, self-reliant visitors interested in getting off the grid. Dotted with hidden hot springs, the area is perfect for primitive camping, off road driving, and just simply getting lost in wide open spaces. Once you’ve spent a little time there, it’s not hard to understand why so many people feel compelled to return to this barren stretch of earth year after year to reconnect with their inner psyche.
The Black Rock Desert is also home to Fly Geyser. Located on Fly Ranch, the geyser was created accidentally in 1964, after a geothermal power company drilled a test well at the site. The result is a rainbow colored geyser spewing thermal water from its mouth 24 hours a day. Owned by Burning Man, Fly Geyser is not currently available for public access, but you can take a tour of the property, through the Friends of Nevada Black-High Rock. Passionate volunteers offer three-hour guided tours of Fly Ranch, including Fly Geyser.
In a state that has more hot springs and mountain ranges than any other state (who knew!), Lake Tahoe is the undisputed adventure capital of Nevada. And with over 300 days of sun a year, the fun never stops!
A short drive from Reno takes you to the stunning alpine world of North Lake Tahoe, where crystal clear water, giant granite boulders, and quiet lakeside beaches wait. Mornings at the lake are beautiful, and the perfect time to get out on a human powered adventure. If you’re keen on taking a hike, Marlette Lake is a solid option. From the top of the trail you can get a unique "double lake” view of Marlette with Lake Tahoe glistening below in the distance. Alternatively, wake up for sunrise over Emerald Bay and then head up the short trail to Eagle Lake for a little taste of what the Desolation Wilderness has to offer.
After you’ve worked up a sweat in the mountains, it’s time to cool down on the Lake! During summer you can rent a kayak or paddle board at Sand Harbor and spend all day exploring the stunning east shore. Paddle around the huge rounded boulders that sit like private islands dotting the azure shallows. Make one your own for an hour or two, or keep exploring. For something a little different, rent a clear kayak from Wild Society, and stare into the depths of Tahoe’s famed blue water as the world drifts by.
For even more ways to make the most of your time at Tahoe, check out 72 Perfect Hours At Lake Tahoe!