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10Best Parks and Public Areas in Reno and Sparks



Reno has a surprising number of parks and public areas both within the city and surrounding the city. From wilderness areas and hiking trails to whitewater kayaking parks, this member of Tree City USA has a place where you can relax and enjoy some nature. Just steps from the casinos are several popular parks including Wingfield Park on (and in) the Truckee River. Also in the Wingfield area is the Truckee River Whitewater Park which is a tubing and kayaking paradise in the summer and fall. For great special events like the Great Reno Balloon Race and Food Truck Friday, visit Rancho San Rafael near the University of Nevada, Reno and Idlewild Park near the River. If you are looking for some hiking or walking paths, the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway runs from Verdi into Sparks along the river and the Hunter Creek trail will take you into the foothills of this high desert city.


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Rock Park, located along the Truckee River in Sparks (the city next to Reno) also has a small whitewater park like the Truckee River Whitewater Park where you can tube, kayak and play in the waves. A real community park, on the weekends this park is full of families, food vendors and children on the various play structures. There are numerous picnic areas with shade structures and many beautiful trees. This is also a great place to fish for trout on the Truckee River.The park can actually be accessed from Reno via the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway by foot or by bike.

Recommended for Parks because: Rock Park can actually be accessed from Reno via the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway by foot or by bike.

Christina's expert tip: The whitewater park at Rock Park has two handicapped accessible ramps into the water.

Read more about Rock Park →




The Tahoe Pyramid Trail is a partially finished pedestrian and bike trail that runs from Lake Tahoe, along the the Truckee River through Downtown Reno and into Sparks on its way to Pyramid Lake in the Nevada desert. Along the way the trail will descend over 2,000 feet in 116 miles. Several sections of the trailer are paved and some are dirt trails that have been provided with donations. From Downtown Reno, you can access the Bikeway anywhere along the river and follow signs East or West along the river. Trail maps and current access are located on the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway website.

Recommended for Parks because: The Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway passes through several parks including Rock Park and Barbara Bennett Park.

Christina's expert tip: If you don't have a bike, you can rent one from several bike shops in the Reno area.

Read more about Tahoe Pyramid Trail →




The Oxbow Nature Study Area seems a world away from Downtown Reno, but it's just a few miles from the city's casinos. Located on the Truckee River at the end of Dickerson Road, this park is recognized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a national model for a successful urban nature center. The Study Area has several miles of dirt and elevated walking paths where you can see mule deer, great blue heron, California quail, Cooper's hawk, beaver and even rainbow trout. Several platforms overlook the willows and other trees of the park as well as ponds and marshes full of water foul.

Recommended for Parks because: Oxbow has a 1/3 mile-long wheelchair accessible nature trail.

Christina's expert tip: There are several platforms near the Truckee River for fishing.

Read more about Oxbow Nature Study Area →


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Bowers Mansion County Park


This Gothic-style mansion, circa 1864, was built by Sandy Bowers and his pyschic wife, Ellie Orum. Many of the Bowers' original European antique furnishings are on display here and tours are held regularly in the summer months. The gardens and fountain are great for summer picncis and visitors can also picnic on the treed area near the children's playground. The park also has a seasonal pool, trails and access to the Sierra foothills, plenty of parking and a special events area. Bowers Mansion County Park is located about 20 miles north of Reno and just north of Carson City in West Washoe Valley.

Recommended for Parks because: Bowers Mansion County Park is tucked into the Sierra foothills and has some great summer shade.

Christina's expert tip: The Bowers Mansion Park has a public pool that is open during the summer.

Read more about Bowers Mansion County Park →


The Reno area has several hiking trails that take both beginner and experienced hikers into the hills around the city. The Hunter Creek trail is one of the more popular hikes, but there's a good reason: there's a waterfall at the end. A waterfall in the high desert is hard to come by, but this one runs all year and is a nice end to this 5.2 round trip hike in the Sierra foothills. This trail offer views of the Downtown Reno skyline as well views of Hunter Creek, cottonwood and pine trees, colorful rocks and flowers in the summer.

Recommended for Parks because: Hunter Creek is actually a trail but is so close to Downtown that it's more of a park.

Christina's expert tip: The trail starts from the Michael D. Thompson Trailhead in West Reno.

Read more about Hunter Creek Trail →




Wild Island is located just east of Reno in the city of Sparks. This water park has a tropical feel and features a tide pool, a lazy river and a plethora of water slides including a four-story drop slide. There is also an area for children under the age of 5. Also on-hand for entertainment purposes are a 36-hole miniature golf course, bumper cars, a video arcade, and food vendors. This small, but jam packed park includes many activities for the whole family. The water park is usually full on hot summer days, but there is still parking available nearby.

Recommended for Parks because: While this is not a free park, Wild Island makes for a fun summer afternoon.

Christina's expert tip: Go after 4 p.m. until about 8 p.m. and pay less than half price.

Read more about Wild Island →


Idlewild Park


Built in 1927, this park is another of Reno's largest parks. It is located just West of downtown on the Truckee River. This park features several picnic areas, some tennis courts, a bike trail, some lakes and water features and access to the river. There is a Lions Club park for children with lot of fun equipment and a small train. The Rose Garden and the public art including some colorful trout jumping from the lake are popular as well as the seasonal Idlewild Pool. This pool is outdoors and is only open in the summertime, but features a lap pool with diving boards and a kids pool. The park has plenty of parking in many areas of the park and the bike path leads out of the park and into downtown and Verdi.

Recommended for Parks because: Idlewild Park has access to the Truckee River and a few swimming holes.

Christina's expert tip: Idlewild Park also has a skate park for teens.

Read more about Idlewild Park →




Wingfield Park is usually referred to as the Downtown Reno park in the middle of the Truckee River, but it's actually several parks in one including Brick Park and Bennett Park. All this green space is located just steps from the Downtown casinos and has access to the Truckee River. They also include picnic benches and tables, basketball courts, a public ampitheater and walking and bike paths. Access to the Truckee River is easy with various bridges and some rocky beaches as well as a popular square and staircase where you will find summer crowds, especially during July's Artown festival.

Recommended for Parks because: A real urban park, Wingfield is home to Reno's annual Artown celebration.

Christina's expert tip: In the summer, there is some fun tubing stretches along the Truckee.

Read more about Wingfield Park →


Truckee River Whitewater Park


The Truckee River Whitewater Park is right in the middle of downtown Reno, just a few blocks from the casinos. It is 2,600 feet long with class 2 and 3 rapids for kayakers, canoes and boats. It is easily accessible from the shore and from the nearby Wingfield Park. There are five drop pools and 7,000 tons of smooth rocks to sit on along the river. Boaters and tubers can start anywhere along the park and go through several rapids, drops and marked tracks. Maneuvers include freestyle, front and side surfing, cartwheeling, throwing ends, blunt moves, spoofing and splatting, flat spinning, loops, front flips, slalom racing. There are random boulders in channels. The Whitewater Park is a great place to hang out during the summer where there are weekend concerts and events including Artown. The pools are full of tubers during the hottest months and many of them can start up the river at Mayberry Park in Verdi.

Recommended for Parks because: Wingfield Park, another one on this list, is located right in the middle of the Truckee River Whitewater Park.

Christina's expert tip: There are shallower areas for children to play, but this is still a river and they must be watched.

Read more about Truckee River Whitewater Park →


Rancho San Rafael Park


Rancho San Rafael Park is the largest park in Reno with hundreds of acres that are home to a large dog park, playgrounds, an arboretum, gym equipment, jogging areas, and special event pavilions. The Arboretum is a beautiful place to walk among the trees and landscaping. Dogs are not allowed in this area of the park, but it is fine for walking and jogging. Behind the Arboretum is the Great Basin Adventure which is great for kids. There's also a museum that offers a look at the park's previous life as a working ranch, and a beautiful old ranch house that can be rented for weddings or other special events.

Recommended for Parks because: Rancho San Rafael has one of the widest ranges of flora in the Reno area.

Christina's expert tip: There is plenty of free parking throughout the Rancho San Rafael

Read more about Rancho San Rafael Park →


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Meet Christina Nellemann

Christina has lived in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area since she was a baby. A first-generation Nevadan, her Danish parents instilled in her an intense love of travel and the wild, rugged outdoors...  More About Christina

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