Take a Reno-Tahoe Adventure Road Trip with Travel Writers

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By Margot Black

The state of Reno-Tahoe in California is a mix of striking contrasts and stunning landscapes, from pristine lakes to rugged mountains to vast desert valleys. An amazing variety of activities and attractions in this area are all within a short distance, making for an adventurous road trip unlike any other.

Indeed, some of Nevada’s best-kept travel gems lie between the glistening shores of South Lake Tahoe and the bright lights of Reno. From kayaking on Lake Tahoe to soaring high on a glider ride in Carson Valley, there are plenty of ways to unplug and find outdoor adventure in the great wide open spaces Nevada has to offer.

As one of my favorite places on planet Earth, South Lake Tahoe made for a great start to our road trip. So we headed straight to the lake to make the most of our time at this adventure playground. The clear kayak tour we booked through Tahoe Paddle Sports was heavenly, and we got to enjoy the bright blue and green colors of the lake in a sun-kissed turn. Our friendly guide Marco took us from Sand Harbor State Park to Bonsai Rock.

Since we were traveling with a teenager, I wanted to add a little speed into the mix. Going on a slingshot ride on Tahoe’s beach has this in spades. We rented from Rolling Freedom Motorcycles – like a convertible on steroids. We rocked the village of Iklin the entire trip with our son playing DJ. After our amazing drive, we spent some time by the water to enjoy the sunset over the lake.

We certainly worked up an appetite after our action-packed day, and our dinner at Gordon Ramsay’s Hale Kitchen restaurant was especially amazing after watching every episode of “MasterChef Junior.” We wound up at the Hard Rock Hotel because we were traveling in the summer during high season and the rooms were scarce. I was nervous about staying in the casino; However, our teenage son loved the hotel’s musical history, and we had easy access to everything we needed, including in-house dining at the Alpine Union. The next morning we went for a walk around the beach. You can find many options for hiking in this area, including Spooner Summit, Van Sickle B-State Park, and Rabe Field to Nevada Beach.

We hit the road again and drove 12 miles east to explore our next road trip destination, Carson Valley. This “Land of Legends” provides a gateway to the authentic American West, bringing rural adventure to Genoa City. Carson Valley and Virginia City in Northwest Nevada are often overlooked regions, steeped in history and definitely worth a few days of exploring.

We couldn’t visit Nevada’s first settlement without stopping at the Genoa Saloon, Nevada’s oldest thirst hall, where we met some charming locals and basked in the old-time splendor of Genoa. Then we picked up some Dali sandwiches for a fun afternoon picnic on the sprawling lawns of Mormon Station State Park. The park’s charming little museum, filled with pioneer-era artifacts, costs just $1 and teaches more about the town’s early settlers.

We had an unforgettable dinner at JT Basque Restaurant in Gardnerville. Thanks to their hearty portions, we didn’t leave this place hungry. Their menu has remained the same since they opened well over half a century ago, and includes some unusual dishes like pork leg and beef stew.

The next day in Minden, we had the opportunity to experience an elevated sled ride, taking in a new vantage point from the top of the Carson Valley. Our pilot gave us the smoothest ride of our lives. After entering a small cockpit, we untied the tow plane and glided silently in this high plane without an engine. It was like flying in a very safe toy airplane, and it checked all the bucket list adventure boxes.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the historic Virginia town of Nevada. Being in this colorful and living historical city was like stepping back in time. We took an old photo at Silver Sadie’s, Virginia City Jerky Co.

The highlight here was our stay at the Whitney Peak Hotel, which boasts stunning decor, an amazing in-house restaurant – Cafe Whitney – and a large gym. It is home to the “World’s Tallest Artificial Climbing Tower” named by the Guinness Book of World Records. Our son was hanging 50 feet above the famous Reno Arch. This 164-foot outdoor climbing wall was an unexpected and wonderful travel treat and a great way to end our tour on an unforgettable road trip adventure.

when you go

Reno-Tahoe: www.renotahoe.com

Visit Lake Tahoe: www.visitlaketahoe.com

Hard Rock South Lake Tahoe: www.hardrockcasinolaketahoe.com

Clear Kayak Tour: www.tahoepaddlesports.com

Roll Tahoe: www.rolltahoe.com

Carson Valley: www.visitcarsonvalley.org

Genoa: www.genoanevada.org

JT Basque Bar and Dining Room: www.jtbasquenv.com

Glider Ride: www.soaringnv.com

Visit Virginia City: www.visitvirginiacitynv.com

Whitney Peak Hotel: www.whitneypeakhotel.com

    An adventurer tries his luck in downtown Reno, Nevada.  Photo courtesy of Margot Black.

An adventurer tries his luck in downtown Reno, Nevada. Photo courtesy of Margot Black.

    The author and her family gear in a rented slingshot around Lake Tahoe, California.  Photo courtesy of Margot Black.

The author and her family gear in a rented slingshot around Lake Tahoe, California. Photo courtesy of Margot Black.

    A glider plane waits to take off for a bird's eye view of Carson Valley, Nevada.  Photo courtesy of Margot Black.

A glider plane waits to take off for a bird’s eye view of Carson Valley, Nevada. Photo courtesy of Margot Black.

Margot Black is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

A glider waits to take off for a bird’s eye view of Carson Valley, Nevada. Photo courtesy of Margot Black.





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