The deliciously panoramic Washoe Valley State Park is nestled in scenic Washoe Valley, conveniently positioned along I-580 just north of Carson City and just south of Reno. While the park was established only 36 years ago in 1978, the Native American history in the region runs much deeper.
The name of the valley and state park: Washoe, comes from the original inhabitants of the area, the Washoe Indians. Spending summers at nearby Lake Tahoe, the tribe moved down into lower elevations at Washoe Valley. Known for their elaborate basket weaving, Washoe Valley’s wetlands provided cattails and willows, which were integral supplies required to execute such craftsmanship.
With the discovery of the Comstock Lode in the hills of Virginia City, thousands of miners, loggers and traders came to the region, along with Mormon settlers who later established the first permanent settlement in the area. The Ophir Mill was eventually constructed on Washoe Lake’s west shore, and in 1872, the famed Virginia and Truckee Railroad ran lines through Washoe Valley, creating a much needed connection between Reno and Carson City.
By the time the mining boom ceased, those who stuck around in the area turned to ranching and farming, taking advantage of the lush landscape Washoe Valley had to offer. While the area had been overrun with its new booming population, many of the Washoe Indians had scattered to other locations.
In 1977, Washoe Lake State Park was officially established, in efforts to preserve this beautifully scenic region for future generations to enjoy. When visiting the park today, enjoy the wetlands, sand dunes, and wide variety of wildlife present in the area. The park is a birdwatchers dream, as the lake is a host to most migratory birds. You may even be able to spot pelicans, great blue and night herons, mountain bluebirds and red winged blackbirds. Also, keep your eyes peeled for deer, reptiles and even a coyote or two.
If you’d like to extend your stay, camping is available in your choice of 49 designated camping areas, each with a table, grill and fire ring. The campground is open year round, and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Also, take advantage of the boat launching ramps, incredible hiking trails, and unique equestrian facilities within park boundaries.
Plan your adventure today!