On our last trip to Reno, my impression of “the biggest little city in the world” changed. It’s entirely my fault that I didn’t have such high regards for this city, I never gave it a fair chance. In the past Reno was a great place to find a cheap place to stay when we went on group ski trips to Tahoe. However, only experiencing cheap hotels and casinos doesn’t exactly leave you with the best impressions of a city. The last couple of years when my family visited Reno for volleyball tournaments, we didn’t really go anywhere except the Reno Sparks Convention Center, Reno Events Center (downtown again) and the hotels we were staying at. Like I said, I really hadn’t given Reno a fair chance.
We were in Reno again at the end of April for the 2017 Far Westerns National Qualifier Volleyball Tournament. It’s a huge, three day, annual tournament with teams from all over the western US competing for a national bid for Junior Nationals. There are just so many people attending this event that often times you’re walking shoulder to shoulder in the convention center to get anywhere. In the past, during our free time, my hubby and I were comatose, unable to move at all because of sheer exhaustion. I don’t know what it was about this year (maybe we got used to it somehow? Nah, probably the copious amounts of caffeine we drank), but we had some spare energy to do some exploring around Reno. We owed Reno that much.
Mt. Rose Highway
After tournament play, which took until mid afternoon, we left our daughter to participate in team bonding activities, while hubby and I used the time to check out the Mt. Rose Summit at the top of Mt. Rose Highway (SR 431). This highway is a 22-mile two-lane scenic highway that connects Reno to Incline Village in North Lake Tahoe. It’s scenic alright! We drove this road about 15 miles up to the summmit while stopping at the many overlooks. There was hardly any traffic and we cruised along at an easy pace. I never knew how close Tahoe was to Reno! It felt so nice to finally have some peace and quiet with, of course, the beautiful scenery. It was a challenge not to stop at each and every overlook.
The Mt. Rose Summit still had many feet of snow and there was no way we were going to be able to hike. It was a great place to get a view of Mt. Rose and Reno and turn around. We don’t get much snow where I live in the Bay Area, so being around snow is still a special experience. Nine more miles would have taken us to Incline Village, but it was getting dark and we needed to get back.
Galena Creek Visitor Center and Hiking Trails
We pulled over at the Galena Creek Visitor Center, and although the center was closed, the trails remained open. The drive was beautiful, but we needed to get out and stretch our legs.
If the short loop trail was any indication, the longer hikes in the area must be just gorgeous. We definitely want to come back to explore a longer hike in the future.
Truckee River Walk
Another free evening found us in downtown Reno, taking a sunset walk on the Truckee River Walk. Downtown Reno along the strip near the casinos is a bit gritty, but the Truckee River Walk had a much friendlier vibe.
Like they say, “third time’s a charm.” It took us until the third visit to Reno (for a tournament) to figure out how to do more than just sit in a convention center. We thought Reno was all about the casinos, we didn’t know that it has many wonderful places to explore outdoors. My impression of the Reno area has definitely changed and I look forward to exploring more of what Reno has to offer.