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One Tank Trip for Nevada Camping
Total mileage / average drive time:
80.1 miles – 1 hour, 58 minutes
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word, “Nevada”? Gambling, deserts, slot machines? It’s true Nevada is far and away the most popular destination to indulge yourself in a number of games of chance, but, it’s also a place where thousands converge to take advantage of the 300 inches of average annual snowfall that turn many parts of Nevada into one of the best winter wonderlands south of the North Pole...it’s swell enough to make a certain man in a red suit to consider relocating his assembly line!
Located along the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Reno is ideal to use for a base camp and serves as a gateway for a slew of outdoor activities. As the second-largest gaming destination in Nevada after Las Vegas, Reno offers plenty of action and is filled with many first-class casinos and resorts. Not too bad for a city that started with little more than a toll bridge across the Truckee River! If you need a break from your dance with Lady Luck, head downtown to the Riverwalk where you’ll find numerous bistros, cafes, performing arts venues, and charming little shops where you can spend your winnings on some great bargains for the gang back home. Check out the jaw-dropping Harrah Collection at the National Automobile Museum, where more that 200 antique, classic, and specialty cars are on glittering display in period street scene settings. Arts, culture, history — Riverwalk has more than enough to keep you entertained and coming back for more! Perhaps a whitewater park is more your speed? Yep, Reno has one of those, too, and we can’t imagine a better place to practice your kayak moves and work up an appetite.
36.2 miles – 46 minutes
For a more outdoors-in-the-mountains experience, leave the urban delights of Reno behind and head “over the hill” to Incline Village on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, some 36 miles away. Practice your “oohs!” and “aahs!” because Lake Tahoe is one of the most stunning destinations in all of the West. It’s the largest alpine lake in North America and the second-deepest lake in the U.S. after Oregon’s Crater Lake. The water is perfect for water skiing, boating, fishing — the possibilities here are as vast as the lake itself. Once home to a logging company that operated on the northeast side of Lake Tahoe, Incline Village has since become a mountain resort community with its share of famous residents, from Marilyn Monroe to Mike Love of Beach Boys fame. The winter months bring incredible opportunities for skiing,snowboarding, and a plethora of winter fun, and Incline Village is within close proximity to some of the greatest winter-sports venues both on the Nevada and California sides of the Lake. The high season of summer brings days of horseback riding, stream fishing, hiking, sunbathing on Tahoe’s sandy beaches, and maybe a little gambling at Tahoe’s Stateline casinos on the north shore not far from Incline Village. With several spas, eateries, clubs, and even golf available, Incline Village is the kind of place you’ll want to set your brake and stay awhile.
22.1 miles – 34 minutes
From Incline Village, head south along Tahoe’s eastern shoreline and after a very scenic 22-mile drive, you’ll arrive at Zephyr Cove. From here, you can continue your exploration of Lake Tahoe via kayak or canoe, which many believe is the only way to truly see the rich beauty of this pristine body of water. Although the Lake’s clarity has slowly diminished over the last century, visibility is today a still-astounding 65 feet, allowing for exceptional views of aquatic life. Strap on your scuba gear, put on your wet suit (lake water temperature averages only 50 degrees!), and explore Tahoe’s underwater world. Does staying on the surface sound a bit more appealing? How about going aboard the paddlewheeler, M.S. Dixie II and taking a relaxing cruise of the lake? Or take to the air above the dazzling blue water and do a little para-sailing, which has got to be the thrill of a lifetime! Lake Tahoe is just as appealing — and less crowded — in the winter months because there are plenty of opportunities within a short distance of the lake for skiing, snowboarding, or snowmobile tours to the top of Tahoe on the South Shore’s only lake-view trails.
21.8 miles – 38 minutes
From Zephyr Cove, backtrack north along Tahoe’s eastern shore and up and over the Sierra Nevada’s eastern edge for the 21-mile drive to Carson City. The capital city of Nevada is a picturesque destination with easy access to a variety of activities and attractions. Indulge in a little Wild West history aboard a steam engine before you head off to get in a game or two at one of the championship golf courses or take a much-needed shopping break before heading out to the Carson River for some fishing and kayaking. Given that Carson City has a fascinating history, make time to tour the beautiful capitol building, built in 1870 and the centerpiece of the city. Later, indulge in one of the many walking tours, including a walk on the Kit Carson Trail, which goes 2.5 miles through one of the oldest areas in the city. There is also a Shop and Dine Trail perfect for bargain hunters! Within 35 miles of downtown, you’ll discover ample skiing opportunities and it’s no big deal if you’re a little shaky on the slopes — take a few lessons at nearby Heavenly Mountain Resort, which straddles California and Nevada on Lake Tahoe’s south shore, or Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe to the north in Nevada and you’ll be skiing like you were born to do it in no time. Carson City’s position at the center of Nevada’s Eastern Sierra Nevada provides enough biking and hiking opportunities for a lifetime. You’ll find the granddaddy of all trails starting at Spooner Summit just 12 miles west of Carson City and featuring a loop to Marlette Lake along Tahoe’s eastern ridge and down to the site of the Ponderosa Ranch. There’s a shuttle service back to the trailhead if you get in over your head on this one. Hikers will find the Pine Nut Mountains south of the city perfect for dayhiking. There’s a four-mile beginner hiking-and-cycling route that follows the former Virginia and Truckee Railroad Line. For long-range hikers, there’s the challenging 13-mile McClellan Peak climb, definitely not for the weak of heart. You’ll reach an altitude of over 7,000 feet before descending back to the north Carson trailhead.
There are two sides to Nevada — one where you can delve head first into all the glitz and glitter of world-class resorts and casinos and the other where you’ll find yourself traversing down slopes, hiking mountain ranges, and gliding across glassy lakes. Which one is more exciting? We’ll let you decide.
Check out the 2011 One Tank Trip For Nevada
Check out the 2010 One Tank Trip For Nevada
Woodall's Recommended Campgrounds in Nevada