The short journey from Reno to Lake Tahoe makes it an ideal road trip for those looking to explore all the region has to offer. From wild frontiers and historic villages to stunning landscapes and outdoor adventures, get ready to discover the road trip of a lifetime.
How Far is Reno from Lake Tahoe
Reno’s close proximity to Lake Tahoe makes it an ideal base for exploring the region. To Incline Village in the the north, the journey is about 36 miles and a 45 minute drive. Heading to Stateline in the south is about 60 miles and just over an hour’s journey. Taking either the I80 or I580 south, be prepared for some mountain driving as you journey up into the Sierra Nevada range and down to the lake shore. Not driving? Check out shuttle services departing from Reno-Tahoe airport to North Lake or South Lake.
Reno to Tahoe Highlights
Reno/Sparks Before you hit the road heading west, discover the unique delights of Reno and why it deserves the nickname, “Biggest Little City in the World”. While certainly known for its vibrant casino, entertainment and nightlife action, Reno, and its neighboring Sparks, is also home to some pretty cool bars, shops, cafes and festivals. Spend a day or two getting to know Reno-Sparks – if you love a town with culture and a whole lot of character – you won’t be disappointed.
Reno Arch – The iconic Reno sign is on North Virginia Street, right in the heart of the downtown casino district. This is classic casino-city Reno, and well worth a selfie.
The Riverwalk District – The Truckee River cascades right through the heart of Reno. Head to Wingfield Park to enjoy riverside fun, including swimming, tubing and free outdoor concerts in the warmer months.
Midtown District – The epicentre of cool in Reno, Midtown boasts eclectic dining, diverse bars, and a variety of antique, boutique and vintage clothing, furniture and music stores.
Outlet Shopping – Head east from Reno to visit Outlets at Legends, a massive complex of outlet shops, from casual gear to the latest fashions, and a massive sporting goods store.
Festivals and Events – The Reno-Sparks event calendar is packed all year round with concerts, outdoor festivals, sporting events, cultural gatherings, rallies, rodeos, beer crawls, wine crawls, art crawls, cook-offs and carnivals – you name it, it’s happening here.
When heading south from Reno to Lake Tahoe, take a detour to Virginia City and sample what life was like in the Wild West. This historic gold and silver mining town is largely unchanged since its founding in 1859, and is packed with saloons, stores and more than a few ghost stories.
Mine Tours – Virginia City is one of the richest places in the US, thanks to the wealth produced by its gold and silver mines. Take a tour of Chollar Mine and the Comstock Gold Mill to see how this wealth was made.
Virginia & Truckee Railroad – Step on board a steam locomotive for a short trip to Carson City along tracks originally built to transport gold and silver ore from the mines.
Wild West Gunfight – Watch the Virginia City Outlaws perform a western-themed comedy gunfight and stunt show… and be on the lookout for the ghosts of gun battles lost that are said to still haunt these parts.
Saloon Crawl – Quench your thirst with a cold beer and hear stories of the characters that made saloons like the Washoe Club, the Red Dog Saloon, and the Bucket of Blood Saloon renowned near and far.
Take a stroll along the historic streets of downtown Truckee, recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This charming town offers superb diner and saloon-style dining and shopping set in authentic historic buildings. Enjoy a cold beer, a warm meal and some friendly small-town hospitality.
Walking Tour – Discover the fascinating history of this pioneer town – from the people who worked on the railroad to the movie stars who made Truckee their playground.
Take the Train – The California Zephyr stops in this tiny town on its route from San Francisco all the way to Chicago. For a much shorter, but still magnificent, train journey, hop on in Reno and watch the mountains come into view all around you from the panoramic windows of the lounge car.
Donner Lake – This beautiful lake, nestled amongst the Sierra mountain range, has a dark history. Named after the fateful Donner Party expedition of 1846, visit the museum and Pioneer Monument to learn more about this epic story.
Play Outdoors – Truckee is located only a short drive from nearby golf courses, ski resorts and hiking trails, so get out and enjoy the great outdoors.
While en route from Reno to Lake Tahoe, pay a visit to the capital of Nevada, Carson City. A welcoming stop for weary westward-bound emigrants in the 1850s, the town blossomed into a wealthy settlement for gold and silver prospectors – and the casino boom quickly followed.
Capitol Building – Take a tour of Nevada’s Capitol, a charming building set in the picturesque grounds of the Nevada State Capitol Mall.
Museums – Learn about the fascinating history of Nevada – from its native people and wild frontier history to its ancient geologic artefacts (including a full size mammoth exhibit!).
Kit Carson Trail – Take a walking tour through the town’s historic district and explore Victorian-era homes, museums and churches.
Want more? Explore events and festivals happening around Reno-Tahoe.