The Other Side of Reno: An Urban Base Camp for Outdoor Adventure
Reno, Nevada is home to the world's tallest outdoor rock climbing wall, located at Basecamp at the Whitney Peak Hotel. (Evan Thacker)

The Other Side of Reno: An Urban Base Camp for Outdoor Adventure


The "biggest little city in the world" is a haven for outdoor recreation.

Reno, Nevada, most notably known as a gambling town, seems to be moving away from the smoke-filled casinos of the past and into a new era that embraces the abundance of outdoor experiences so close to the city center.

Visitors looking for fun away from the slots can go kayaking on the Truckee River, tackle a 164-foot climbing wall, take a hike to University of Nevada's "N," or go horseback riding in Sierra.

After a day of adventure, get a luxurious spa treatment and dine at a trendy restaurant or craft brewery. There's even an emerging arts scene: Don't miss the new Neon Line District, with more than 100 street murals and sculptures (relics from Burning Man) throughout the city, as well as guided art tours.

Outdoor Activities in Reno During Warmer Months

Piping Rock Horses provides private trail rides in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

(Sharael Kolberg)

Embrace Reno as an urban basecamp with endless access to outdoor adventures on wild rivers and expansive lakes, in scenic mountains and sprawling deserts. Along downtown Reno’s Riverwalk District, where the Truckee River winds its way from Lake Tahoe, there are a multitude of outdoor activities including fishing, kayaking and rafting. In the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains, there are plenty of opportunities to go mountain biking, horseback riding, and hiking.

Hiking the Hills

A great way to enjoy sweeping views of downtown Reno and the Sierra Nevada is by hiking to the University of Nevada, Reno's "N," along Miner's Trail in Rancho San Rafael Regional Park. The moderate round-trip journey is less than two miles, with a steep incline. Once a year, the UNR students repaint the white "N" to keep it looking fresh.

Kayaking the Truckee River

Kayak along the tree-lined Truckee River, passing public art and skyscrapers, and end in downtown Reno's Riverwalk District. If you have your own equipment, you can start at Mayberry Park and paddle about five miles to downtown. For kayak rentals and guided tours, Sierra Adventures is a good option, with an office conveniently located on the Truckee River in downtown Reno.

Mountain Biking Tall Peaks

Mountain biking trails throughout the Reno area offer a variety of terrains. Ride through sagebrush-covered landscape as you climb Peavine Mountain, with more than 50 trails of varying inclines, distances, and difficulty. To access some of the least challenging trails, park at the Reno Sports Complex to reach the trailheads. Experts might want to try the black diamond–rated Halo Trail. Another option is the Sierra Vista Mountain Bike Park, which offers everything from wide beginner trails and a newly opened adaptive trail to an advanced trail with drops and jumps.

Horseback Riding Through the Forest

Drive 30 miles outside of Reno along Interstate 80, and you'll end up in Truckee, situated in the breathtaking Tahoe National Forest. Explore the Sierra Nevada wilderness via horseback as you wind through scented pine trees, cross bubbling mountain streams and vast plateaus, watch red tailed hawks fly overhead, and spot deer camouflaged in the flora. Beginner to advanced guided tours are offered through Piping Rock Horses.

Reno's Best Restaurants + Bars

Grab a drink and play some lawn games at The Eddy.

(Courtesy of Visit Reno)

Reno has a flourishing food scene, with coffee shops, breweries, farm-to-table cafes, and elevated restaurants focusing on sustainability and fresh ingredients from nearby farms and ranches. Can't decide? Try tastes from Reno's top dining establishments on a food walking tour. For casual fare, check out Food Truck Fridays at Idlewild Park.

The Eddy

Located on the Riverwalk, The Eddy not only has three bars serving 24 craft beers, wine and cocktails, but it is mainly used as a community space built from repurposed shipping containers. Residents and visitors can come together to have a drink, play yard games, take a yoga class, listen to live music, lounge in a hammock, or experience local art. Bring your dog, your kids, and your friends and embrace the communal vibe. // 16 S. Sierra St.,

Liberty Food & Wine Exchange

This artisan eatery, market, and bar offers locally sourced Italian-American cuisine such as house-cured meats, cheeses, freshly baked breads, and homemade pastas and sauces—plus a large selection of wine available for drinking-in or to take home. // 100 N. Sierra St.,

Great Basin Brewing Co.

The home of Nevada's most award-winning craft beer has four locations in the state. Along with its beers (such as Leave No Trace and Icky IPA), you'll find a rotating seasonal menu of pub grub like hand-tossed pizzas, juicy burgers, butcher platters, and fish and chips. Try the daily baked icky bread. // 5525 S. Virginia St.,

Where to Stay in Reno, NV

Just six light-filled rooms and a romantic patio keep the outdoor vibe going at the boutique Jesse Hotel & Bar.

(Courtesy of @thejessereno)

Casino resort not your bag? Reno does some boutique and active-lifestyle properties with unique local charm.

Whitney Peak Hotel

If you're into rock climbing, drop your stuff at Whitney Peak Hotel: Home to Basecamp, you'll have easy access to the 7,000-square-foot indoor bouldering park with a fitness center, steam room and sauna, not to mention the world’s tallest artificial climbing wall according to Guinness World Records. This is a non-gaming, non-smoking hotel with decor inspired by the natural surrounds. Don't miss the granola and berry hotcakes at Cafe Whitney. // 255 N Virginia St.,

The Jesse Hotel & Bar

An independent micro-hotel in Reno's Brewery District, the Jesse has six guest suites, a large outdoor patio, and a mezcal bar. Refurbished rooms embrace the urban vibe of downtown Reno with exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, and artwork that hails from the Royal Hotel, which was originally built here in 1907. The on-property restaurant, Estrella, is known for modern Mexican food and cocktails. // 306 E. 4th St.,

Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel & Spa

The pet-friendly Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel & Spa has something fun for everyone, including the longest bar in Reno, an outdoor pool and fire pits, bocce courts, pool tables and games, and more. After a long hike or kayaking on the river, unwind at the spa with a relaxing treatment, or try the water-sensory deprivation experience. // 1 South Lake St., Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel & Spa

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