Big Adventure in the Biggest Little City in the World, Reno

When you think Reno, Nevada, what do you think? Maybe you think casinos, likely comparing it to Vegas (probably because of its casinos). And perhaps you think Reno 911!, which was hardly even filmed in Reno, and is about as accurate to Reno as South Park is to South Park, Colorado (i.e. not accurate). The fact is that Reno is neither like Vegas, nor Reno 911!. but really stands in a category of its own.

And this couldn’t be truer than of Reno’s outdoor activities and adventure accessibility. Its status as the biggest little city in the world works to its advantage in the way of accessibility to outdoor adventure things to do in and around Reno. Many of America’s major metropolitan areas have such urban sprawl, that access to outdoor adventures requires a long drive. In Reno, however, in mere minutes you can be kayaking through whitewater rapids, bicycling across mountain peaks, and skiing down world-class ski runs. And sometimes, you can even do that all in one day!

It's only fitting then that Reno has outdoor adventure festivals, such as this weekend’s Reno River Festival, one of the premiere kayak festivals in America. So with my sentiment toward Reno as one of the best outdoor adventure destinations in America, I teamed up with Reno Tahoe USA to bring you five reasons why I believe Reno is one of the most accessible outdoor adventure cities.

Truckee River Whitewater Park. You guys, there is a whitewater park in Downtown Reno. As in you could walk out of your hotel, kayak in hand, and be kayaking over rapids, past boulders, and under bridges in mere minutes. The Truckee River Whitewater Park is a class 2 to 3 park, featuring 11 drop-pools, a race course, and multiple obstacles. This weekend is the river’s headlining event, Reno River Festival, a competitive kayaking event that includes a number of competitions, live music, a craft beer garden, and new this year, Reno River Roll, which is a (costumed) slow bicycle ride through the streets of downtown Reno. Oh yes, I will be in costume.

Reno is home to the tallest rock climbing wall in the world. Yes, the tallest rock climbing wall in the world, and among my favorite outdoor adventure things to do in Reno. Whitney Peak Hotel’s climbing wall isn’t your hometown gym’s climbing wall, standing at 164 feet tall (that's 16 stories for those keeping track at home), and overlooking the Reno Arch. What’s more is that inside you’ll find a 7,000-square-foot bouldering park, appropriately-named BaseCamp. The wall is a great warm-up before hitting some of the area’s more natural rock climbing routes, many of the best of which are around Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake.

Hunter Creek Trail. I recently stumbled upon Hunter Creek Trail, just a few miles from downtown Reno, when looking for the Patagonia Outlet, which fittingly is close to the trail. I never made it into Patagonia, but rather in minutes was walking from lush hilltop to hilltop, feeling more like I was in Northern Ireland than Northern Nevada. Hunter Creek Trail is an easy to moderate hike, near the Truckee River, and is about six miles out and back, featuring flowing streams, a waterfall, and views of downtown Reno. Best hike ever?

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe. While you can be on Lake Tahoe ski resorts in as little as 45 minutes, the best, most accessible ski resort is Mt. Rose, which you can be to in 25 to 30 minutes from Reno. Mt. Rose boasts the highest base summit among Lake Tahoe Ski resorts, and features more than 1,300 acres of skiable terrain and 3 terrain parks. This winter was particularly a great ski season in Lake Tahoe, and as a result, Mt. Rose is staying open through this weekend. Interestingly enough, Mt. Rose's ski area is actually on Slide Mountain, a 9,702-foot peak towering over Reno, while the actual Mt. Rose is a few miles northwest, standing at about 1,000 feet taller, and the second-tallest mountain in the Lake Tahoe Basin. While the ski resort is closed during the summer, Mt. Rose makes for a nice moderate hike if you want something longer (10 miles round-trip) and more challenging than Hunter Creek Trail. Not to mention that it has a waterfall, too, and the views are pretty good.

Peavine Mountain. What Hunter Creek Trail is for hikers, Peavine Mountain is for mountain bikers. Located just northwest of Reno, Peavine Mountain is home to the 8,266-foot Peavine Peak, and features miles of mountain biking trails. Peavine has a number of different linked trails, most of which are well marked. The mountain even has its own mountain bike race, part of the California Enduro Series, which takes places mid-May. Peavine also has a local trail club, the Poedunks, who plan, design, build and maintain sustainable singletrack trails on Peavine Mountain.

Rock climbing wall photo from Whitney Peak Hotel, while Truckee River and Mt. Rose photo courtesy of Reno Tahoe USA.

What are your favorite summer outdoor adventure things to do?