Las Vegas is Fabulous but Reno is Ravishing
|Morrill Hall University of Nevada|
Reno learned a long time ago that it could not compete with the craziness of the Las Vegas Strip and its showgirl like resorts. But what it could do is focus on the arts, its perfect location to the ski resorts of Lake Tahoe and its rich history to fill in the gap. Situated right on the Truckee River the little city is a must see when you visit Nevada. Its located about 6.5 hours driving time from Las Vegas or roughly 1.5 hours by flight. I prefer the drive myself since it takes you through some of the hidden historical gems that Nevada has to offer. And since I am a major history fanatic the drive is perfect. Not to mention very therapeutic.
The drive can be daunting for many since it is long and for some can be quite arduous if you don't like the scenic vistas of the desert. The long expanses of the desert is what brings many to Nevada. Tourists from places like Japan and other heavily populated areas are in awe of how much empty land is out there. Huge arid tracks that make you wonder how people on wagons could survive it. Though I was in the comfort of my little air-conditioned MINI I know all too well that if my car broke down I would need water to survive before I could get some help. So I packed plenty of water and goodies to keep me satiated if things turned ugly.
No one argues the fact that Nevada is a place of extremes. The summers are super hot and the winters can get super cold. It has little arable land and water is most definitely a luxury. Heck Nevada should have not even been a state as soon as it was when it was created back in 1864. Even at the turn of the 20th Century eastern US newspapers questioned whether Nevada should even be a state with a paltry population barely able to sustain territorial status! But nonetheless the state survived and today its thriving thanks to a population that likes it's Libertarian nature of low taxes, individualism and entrepreneurship.
|Alien Center in Wells|
As you continue north you hit Wells (formerly Lathrop Wells) and their new Area 51 Alien Center and brothel (my guess would be that the brothel experience would be out of this world!). Past Wells you will eventually hit the small mining town of Beatty home to the world famous Sourdough Saloon and the Beatty Museum and Historical Society. Beatty is also the gateway to Death Valley National Park, the Rhyolite Ghost Town and the Goldwell Open Air Museum.
Continuing along the route you will pass through one of Nevada's historical gems. The town of Goldfield. At one time the town was the largest in the state with a healthy population of 20,000 people drawn there in the unending quest for gold. In 1982 the town was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Many of its old stone buildings still survive and some are still used today such as the court house. The Goldfield Hotel is considered one the most haunted places in America.
Once you leave Goldfield the next town is Tonopah home to the Tonopah Historic Mining Park and the Central Nevada Museum. The historic Mizpah Hotel and its perfectly preserved turn of the century architecture and decor is a must see when driving through town.
Upon exiting Tonopah, this stretch of road will take you through some of the most stark country in Nevada. With the exception of a few tiny villages such as Mina and Luning there is not much else out there except a few abandoned buildings along the route. So make sure to fuel up in Tonopah for the stretch to Hawthorn.
|Reno River Walk|
Immediately after you exit Hawthorn you will hit Walker Lake. One of the few large lakes located in Nevada. The drive along the Western boundary of the lake will take you right up against the rocky cliffs between Mount Grant and Bald Mountain. The road rides tight so you definitely want to reduce your speed. In either case the blue waters of the lake are a nice respite from the brown sands of the desert.
Once you pass Walker Lake you are on the last long stretch before you get to Reno. You have two choices in this case. You can continue through to Fallon to hit the 50 which connects you to Interstate 80 at Fernley and then on to Reno or you can take the alternative 95 through Yerington which hits Fernley also. I would suggest that latter since it will save you about 30 minutes on the trail. Though Fallon is a nice little town the traffic tends to slow you down especially since you have to drive right through it to get to Fernley. Fallon is considered the Oasis of Nevada or Nevada's Breadbasket. It has a cool mix of farms, plenty of shops and quite a little art scene. But the coolest thing about the town is that its also home to the Fallon Naval Air Station or Navy Fighter Weapons School aka TOPGUN. Yep TOPGUN is located in Nevada...
Now that we have hit Interstate 80 the drive is swift. I would say within 30 minutes you will hit the Reno Sparks metropolitan area. Get off on Virginia Street and head South which lands you in the middle of Downtown. The rest is up to you where you wanna go. Since Reno has a pretty compact Downtown everything is within walking distance.
It may not be Las Vegas with all the What Happens Here Hype, but if you are looking for that perfect little weekend getaway with all the amenities of Vegas without all the tourists, traffic and trix Reno Nevada is the place to go. Enjoy!
- Dr. Matt Becker, Senior Acquisitions Editor at the University of Nevada Press for showing me a damn good time in Reno!
- Dr. Joanne O'Hare, Director of The University of Nevada Press for lunch and an amazing conversation!
- Shannon Dobbs, Proproprietor of Rise Night Club for showing me your latest creation! Shannon you rock!
- D. Brian Burghart. Reno News and Review with regaling us with great stories about Turkey!
- And thanks to everyone I met at St. James Infirmary! You know who you are!
Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority - http://www.visitrenotahoe.com/
Reno News and Review - http://www.newsreview.com/reno/home
Reno Gazette Journal - http://www.rgj.com/
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