Reno, Nevada: RVer’s Playground Like No Other


Climb to new heights in the Biggest Little City in the World

A cowboy rides a bull at the Reno Rodeo
“The Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West,” Reno Rodeo celebrates its 101st anniversary in June 2020.

Reno, located in the northern part of Nevada, is so unique and offers so much to see and do throughout the year that no other location can be fairly compared. Which is why I think “The Biggest Little City in the World” should be on every RVer’s bucket list. Since 1929, Reno, Nevada, has proudly held that distinction, and there are many reasons why. Those of us who are lucky enough to travel by motorhome can experience all that this “big” city has to offer much more economically than other visitors. We can also bring along a lot of gear and toys that facilitate even more opportunities. My wife, Gayle, and I have visited Reno many times, during each of the four seasons, and there’s still much more we want to see and do. It’s no wonder that people travel from all over the world to enjoy this unparalleled playground.

From our home in Northern California, Reno is about a four-hour drive in our 35-foot motorhome, towing our Subaru. We chose the Sparks Marina RV Park, located within the Reno/Sparks metropolitan area, for our base camp. According to the several resources we checked on the internet, this is overall the highest-rated RV park in the area, with a 10/10*/10 rating from Good Sam Travel Guide. It is quite a large campground and is open year-round. We found it to be reasonably priced, clean and well-maintained, with lots of amenities. It also offered the following discounts: 10% for Good Sam members; and 20% for military — including retired veterans. The latter was a pleasant surprise for us. The RV park is located close to the lake marina, which affords even more recreational opportunities. Adjacent to the marina is a 2-mile paved jogging/biking path that is also accessible to even those with limited mobility. The RV park is only about 6 miles from downtown Reno, depending on your route. It’s quick and easy to drive your dinghy vehicle to one of the many available parking areas; then walk or bike the main attractions downtown.

A view of the Truckee River Walk which offers dining and shopping options just a few blocks from downtown Reno, Nevada
The Truckee River Walk offers additional dining and shopping options just a few blocks from downtown.

Locator map for Reno, NevadaGetting There

The author has entered the Reno area in his motorhome from all directions and none of those approaches presented any unusual challenges, except traversing the Sierra Nevada when it’s snowing. Reno is situated on the east side of that range, on the western edge of the Great Basin. Well-maintained freeways afford access from all points of the compass.

One of the attractions we wanted to check out during this visit can be experienced year-around. The Reno-Tahoe area offers what can arguably be described as the largest concentration and variety of bouldering and rock-wall climbing (both manmade and natural) to be found anywhere. Our primary interest this trip was the unique experience offered at Whitney Peak Hotel, right in the middle of the action in downtown Reno. At that single location you can find both indoor and outdoor climbing walls that are truly amazing.

Inside, there’s a 7,000-square-foot bouldering park that includes the only official 150-meter speed wall in the United States. On the exterior of the hotel is what Guinness World Records certified in 2017 as the World’s Tallest Artificial Climbing Wall. The various courses extend nearly 164 feet upward, clear to the top of the hotel’s east wall. Climbers overlook the many attractions that can be found along the main strip below, known as N. Virginia Street. The various color-coded courses on the wall afford a wide variety of adrenaline-inducing climbing experiences, and each of the courses overlooks the almost nonstop activities below. To get a better perspective of the scope and variety of opportunities that are available, check out the many photos, plus the video clips available via the hotel’s photo gallery.

In addition to indoor and outdoor events sponsored by the many casinos in the area, there are huge attractions in and around Reno throughout much of each year. Some of those include Monster Jam (March 20-22, 2020); The Great Eldorado BBQ, Brews and Blues Festival (June 12-13, 2020); Reno Rodeo (June 18-27, 2020); Hot August Nights (August 4-9, 2020); The Great Reno Balloon Race (September 11-13, 2020); STIHL National Championship Air Races (September 16-20, 2020); and many more.

During some of the larger events, much of the downtown area is closed off to cars. Aside from walking, there are other options: public transportation is inexpensive (sometimes free) and reliable; also, bicycles and motor scooters can be rented from several businesses in and near the downtown area.

Two planes flying at the STIHL National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevads
STIHL National Championship Air Races features six racing classes, a large display of static aircraft and flight demonstrations.

For those interested in combining other climbing options during a trip, nearby Lake Tahoe affords a tremendous variety. Lake Tahoe also offers some of the most spectacular vistas in the world, some of the finest snow skiing to be found anywhere and a wide spectrum of other fun attractions around this huge alpine lake. I doubt there are many other areas that offer as many world-class activities and attractions as Reno-Tahoe; that’s why people come here from all around the world. Those of us with motorhomes can access virtually everything the area has to offer, plus bringing along our favorite toys so the entire family can take maximum advantage of everything; and all of that for much less money. Hard to beat!

6 Good Sam RV Parks in the Area

Bonanza Terrace RV Park
Located 3 minutes from downtown Reno, the campground has 80 full-hookup sites; 775-329-9624

Bordertown Casino & RV Resort
A casino and full-service campground with 50 full-hookup, pull-through sites, located 15 miles north of Reno; 800-218-9339

A band plays on stage at a Reno, Nevada venue
The casinos typically host elaborate venues for bands, both inside and outside.

Grand Sierra Resort RV Park
Part of the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, the campground has 165 full-hookup sites and an age restriction: RVs more than 10 years of age must have RV park approval upon arrival; 800-258-7366

Keystone RV Park
Conveniently located a few blocks from Reno’s downtown gambling center, the camp­ground has 70 full-hookup sites; 800-686-8559

Shamrock RV Park
Located just minutes from downtown Reno, the RV park has 60 full-hookup sites; 800-322-8248

Silver Sage RV Park
Just across the street from Peppermill Casino, the campground offers 30 full-hookup sites; 888-823-2002

 A street view of Sparks Marina RV Park near Reno, Nevada
Sparks Marina RV Park is a great choice for a home base and is even open through winter.

For More Information

Sparks Marina RV Park; 775-851-8888
Whitney Peak Hotel Rock Walls; 775-398-5400


Ken Reid, MotorHome Magazine contributor

Ken Reid is a freelance writer and amateur photographer who travels extensively with his wife, Gayle, in their Southwind motorhome. Ken is a frequent contributor of articles and photos to travel magazines..

 

 




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