8 Outdoor Activities To Try in Reno Tahoe

Reno Tahoe is the perfect destination for watersports such as stand-up paddleboarding
Reno Tahoe is the perfect destination for watersports such as stand-up paddleboarding | Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com

When spring arrives, adventure lovers in Reno Tahoe pick up their skis as well as their hiking boots, oars and climbing gear. Meadows bloom with wildflowers, and Lake Tahoe’s shallows start to warm. As the days get longer, so too does the potential for adventure. After skiing and kayaking in the morning and an afternoon of horseback riding, there’s still a whole evening ahead for blackjack back in Reno – or even a night of music and drinks at one of Reno’s concert venues or breweries. Here’s how to make the most of the outdoors this spring and summer.

Bask in snow and sunshine at Tahoe Resorts

Ski Resort
Snowboarders can enjoy Reno Tahoe's majestic, snow-covered mountains
Snowboarders can enjoy Reno Tahoe's majestic, snow-covered mountains | Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com

Epic winter snowfall means Reno Tahoe’s ski lifts run well into April (and even July) – just beware those dreaded ski-goggle tan lines. A short drive from downtown Reno will have you on a ski lift at Mt Rose Ski Tahoe or Diamond Peak Resort within an hour. Heavenly, the biggest resort around Lake Tahoe, is always a good choice, with high-altitude tree-lined trails, many looking right onto the lake. But Squaw Valley has a standout reputation for retaining its snow, and springtime’s melt-freeze cycle brings a soft and slushy textural change known as “corn snow.” Bonus: sunshine also brings out the area’s fun side with hot tubs, pond skims and costume parties.

Battle whitewater on the Truckee River

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Truckee River, Reno Tahoe
Thrill-seekers can hit the rapids on a whitewater trip along the Truckee River | Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com

Warmer weather turns the Truckee River into a fast-rushing torrent during April, May and June, and brings big thrills for rafters and kayakers eager to test their oars against furiously foaming water. Tahoe Whitewater Tours and Sierra Adventures offer full-day excursions on Truckee River. Along a dramatic section of the waterway, the action-packed Boca to Verdi trip tackles Class III and IV rapids (translation: it’s a challenging ride). Hurtling over diversion dams makes the ride even wetter and wilder – and you can even raft through the heart of downtown Reno.

Hike and swim Lake Tahoe’s shores

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Take a hike along the Mount Rose summit trail, the second highest peak around Lake Tahoe
Take a hike along the Mount Rose summit trail, the second highest peak around Lake Tahoe | Courtesy of Weekend Sherpa

Mild weather and blooming wildflowers make spring the perfect time to hike in Reno Tahoe. Lake Tahoe’s east shore is a short drive from downtown Reno and offers miles of hiking trails that reward you with unbelievable lake views and open vistas. After a day on the trail, refresh with a dip in Lake Tahoe’s crystal-clear waters – or take a dive off the iconic granite boulders that pepper the shoreline.

Cruise through coves on a stand-up paddleboard

Natural Feature, Shop
Stand-up paddleboarding is easy to master, seriously addictive and sublime on sunny days. Almost a dozen watersport companies in the Reno Tahoe area rent gear, and Lake Tahoe’s north and east shores have aquamarine water that looks like it’s out of a Bahamas brochure (Crystal Bay is especially beautiful). Rise early for the best chance of still water and wildlife sightings – like red-tailed hawks wheeling overhead.

Snorkel in picture-perfect Sand Harbor

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Sand Harbor, Reno Tahoe
Sand Harbor is one of the most spectacular parks in Reno Tahoe | Courtesy of @CheatDayEats

With clear water lapping against smooth white boulders, Sand Harbor is among Lake Tahoe’s loveliest coves. Seen underwater, its geological features take on an otherworldly beauty, with light dancing across sunken rocks and minnows darting past. Arrive early to snorkel in this deservedly popular beauty spot. After swimming with rainbow trout among the granite stones, rent a jet ski from Sand Harbor Water Sports and double your time on the water.

Grapple bare rock at Donner Pass

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Rock climbing in Reno Tahoe
Reno Tahoe offers some of the best rock climbing in the US | Courtesy of Visit Reno Tahoe

There’s no need to leave the city to clamber to dizzy heights: the world’s tallest artificial climbing wall at Whitney Peak Hotel rises above the famous Reno arch. But for a rock climbing challenge in the midst of nature, the awe-inspiring granite ridges at Donner Pass offer routes to suit first-timers as well as old hands.

Make like a cowboy in the high deserts

Horseback riding in Reno Tahoe
Horseback riding in Reno Tahoe can take you along trails, Lake Tahoe and hidden passages | Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com

Desert landscapes filled with sagebrush, the distant peaks of the Sierra Nevada… it all looks better from horseback. Horseback riding is a unique way to connect with the land and it’s best done before the heat of summer. The pros lead guided treks across majestic desert and among old-growth ponderosa pines. Sierra Adventures can match you to a suitable steed and send you galloping (or walking) into the sunset on an unforgettable horseback riding adventure.

Drive off-road outside Reno

Architectural Landmark
Off-road driving outside Reno Tahoe
There's many miles of beautiful landscape to discover in Reno Tahoe | Courtesy of VisitRenoTahoe.com

When city traffic crushes the soul, off-roading is the cure. There are numerous dirt roads around Reno where you can kick up desert dust by 4WD, quad or dirt bike. The big daddy is the 30-mile Hunter Lake Trail. Heading west out of Reno, you’ll rev through dense forest, skirt Hunter Lake and descend back to the city with a new appreciation for the breathtaking variety of landscapes in Reno Tahoe.

For more great things to do in Reno Tahoe from day to night, check out visitrenotahoe.com.

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