The self-proclaimed “biggest little city in the world,” Reno, on I-80 near the California border, is a somewhat downmarket version of Las Vegas, with miles of gleaming slot machines and poker tables, along with tacky wedding chapels and quickie divorce courts. While the town itself may not be much to look at, its setting – at the foot of the snowcapped Sierra Nevada, with the Truckee River winding through the center – is superb. The casinos are concentrated downtown, along Virginia Street on either side of the railroad tracks.
Nevada’s legendary Burning Man Festival is celebrated in a temporary, vehicle-free community known as Black Rock City, way out in the Black Rock Desert, twelve miles north of tiny Gerlach, which is itself a hundred miles north of Reno. The festival takes on a different theme each year, always with a strong emphasis on spontaneity and mass participation. An exhilarating range of performances, happenings and art installations culminates in the burning of a giant human effigy on the final Saturday. After that, in theory at least, Black Rock City simply disappears without trace.
Sparks is a beautiful and family-oriented city of over 90,000 residents is located in the Truckee Meadows between the Carson and Virginia Mountain Ranges at an elevation of nearly 4,500 feet. We share our beautiful valley on the eastern slope of the Sierra with our neighbor to the west, Reno. Our climate is mild, with lots of sun, low humidity and rainfall, and a full four seasons.
Since the 1990’s Sparks has grown tremendously, offering residents and visitors a wide array of services and activities. Sparks was reported as the fastest growing city in Nevada between 1999 – 2008 and continues to grow. Quality of life is cited as one of the main reasons people relocate to the Sparks area. Summer and winter outdoor activities abound!
Sparks is known as the premiere special events venue for all of northern Nevada with attractions on our Victorian Square bringing thousands of visitors to such annual events as Hometown Farmer’s Market, Hot August Nights, Best in the West (Nugget) Rib Cook-off and Hometowne Christmas.
Sparks is also well known for its outstanding Parks and Recreation system designed to appeal to young and old alike, with numerous neighborhood parks, regional sports facilities and an unusually large number of fun and exciting recreation programs for pre-schoolers to senior citizens.
Opened in 2009 is the Whitewater Park at Rock Park. Along with pools for kayaking, tubing and rafting for all skill levels, the new features include improved riverbank landscaping, shade and play structures, parking and better access for people with disabilities.
North Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Lake Tahoe is a gorgeous result of cataclysmic volcanic and glacial master planning. Lake Tahoe’s North Shore, in particular, is a stunning 180 degree panorama that vividly narrates the impact of that ancient earth shaping.
North Lake Tahoe’s singular greatness draws not only pleasure-seeking visitors from the world’s nations, but also some of the planet’s foremost scientists and policy makers. Respectively, they journey to this only-of-its-kind place to understand its incredible blueness and to ensure that Lake Tahoe remains an icon of pure alpine perfection.
Whether you’re coming to study this fascinating mountain jewel on an academic level, or simply anticipating a few well-deserved days in its radiant light, we encourage you to explore our 11 neighborhoods and revel in the 180 degrees of fun you’ll find only at North Lake Tahoe.
Start your trip with a little sleuthing. Poke around and acquaint yourself with the area. Getting here and getting around is easy. There are videos and photos to sample, fast facts to “Oooh!” and “Ahhh!” at, and all kinds of interesting background that will give your trip more dimension.
Douglas County covers an approximate area of 751 square miles with approximately 47,000 residents. Its proximity to the Reno, Carson City, and California markets are leveraged for major business opportunities from a small town atmosphere. As the gateway to outdoor adventure, its boundaries encompass the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe, Topaz Lake, and the Carson and Walker Rivers. Significant Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Land holdings provide a unique setting and opportunity for high desert and backcountry adventures on horseback or off road vehicles. Elevations vary from a low of 4,625 feet on the valley floor to a high of 9,500 feet in the Sierra Nevada. An arid climate prevails with warm summers, moderate winters, and cool night temperatures throughout the year.
Carson City, Nevada
Carson City is approximately 153 square miles in area. It abuts the Sierra Nevada Mountains which are the entrance to the basin from the west and the terminus from the east. The magnificent mountains intercept and exhaust the moisture of the air currents ever flowing from the Pacific Ocean eastward, consequently they pass comparatively rainless over the broad basin region, leaving it desert-like.
The habitat of the Eastern Sierra must have been a welcome refuge for explorers Kit Carson and John C. Fremont as they rode into Eagle Valley during their 1840s quest to map the West.
To the east, long stretches of desert mark the difficult terrain settlers had to endure to get here. To the west, the Sierra Nevada mountains stretch out as a gateway to the Pacific.
During that time, Northern Nevada saw its first wave of white settlers. The Bidwell-Bartleson party is believed to have made their way through the area in 1841. Westbound traffic increased, spurred by the big boom of 1848-1849 when the discovery of California gold ignited the frontier spirit and transformed Eagle Valley.
By 1851, Eagle Station, a trading post and small ranch on the Carson Branch of the California Emigrant Trail, served as a stopover for travel-weary gold prospectors.
According to historical accounts, the station and surrounding valley took their names from an eagle shot by Frank Hall with his ball-and-cap Colt and mounted on the trading post wall. Frank, brother W.L. Hall and George Jollenshee ran the ranch, located at the current site of Fifth and Thompson streets.
In 1858 Abraham Curry bought Eagle Station when he found lots in Genoa to be too expensive. Carson City’s future designation as a capital was largely the fruit of Curry’s labor. He left a 10-acre plaza in the city center for his predicted location of the state capitol as he laid plans for the city’s future.
In 1859, gold prospectors hit silver in the hills east of Carson City. The Comstock Lode, as it was called, was the largest silver find in world history. Tens of thousands of miners poured into Carson City and Virginia City.
In the 1860′s, Carson City was a station on the Pony Express and the Overland mail under both Butterfield and Wells, Fargo and Co. In 1861, true to Curry’s prediction, and largely because of his shrewd maneuvers, Carson City became the capital of the Nevada Territory.
Despite its small population and expansive territory (Nevada is the seventh largest state), statehood was inevitable. War was brewing in the east, and Nevada’s wealth, as well as its congressional votes, would prove vital to the Union war effort. Nevada was granted statehood on Oct. 31, 1864. Each year Nevada’s “Battle Born” roots are celebrated in Carson City with the Nevada Day parade.
Prosperity continued when the Big Bonanza, another major silver strike, was discovered in 1873. Construction of the V&T Railroad served the mines by transporting ore and timber.