Now that the warm weather has arrived in full force, what better way to jump into Summer than taking a tour of the area’s best parks in Reno, Sparks, and Carson City. One of the best parts about living in Northern Nevada is the abundance of outdoor activities and family-friendly fun.
Parks In Reno, Sparks, and Carson City
Below we are sharing the parks by the city along with important information for each one.
We know Northern Nevada is a BIG area, and there are so many “hidden gem” parks. In this article, we highlight some of our favorite parks and some “hidden gems”. From Damonte Ranch to Spanish Springs and Northwest Reno to the Carson Valley, we hope you find these parks just as magical as my family does.
This area is expansive and includes open space as well as mountains. Most well known in the area is Rancho San Rafael, run by Washoe County. This former ranch-land features walking trails, playgrounds, dog parks, Arboretum, and more. Go on a hunt and find the dinosaurs, they are fun to find and climb on.
Las Brisas Park is a great park for all ages. Featuring play equipment for toddlers through teens, I appreciate the attention to detail including rubber cushion mats/base. Las Brisas Park also has open fields, water play features, basketball courts, a skate park, and more!
Know before you go: The City of Reno-operated park allows rentals for up to 100 people. This a great option for birthday parties and celebrations.
Old Southwest Reno
Did you know that Reno is registered as a “Tree City USA” location? The parks in the Old Southwest are a great way to showcase some of these majestic beauties.
Address: 2055 Idlewild Dr, Reno, NV 89509
Hours: 8:00am – Sunset
Idlewild Park is the most well-known park in the Old Southwest. Home of “Food Truck Fridays” Idlewild Park also features a large play area, open fields, ponds, The City of Reno’s Idlewild Pool, baseball fields, etc. During the warm-weather months, take a ride on the train that circles the whole park.
Located across the river from Idlewild Park, Oxbow offers a unique experience that allows you to experience native nature.
Oxbow Nature Study Area serves the public as a model for wildlife and aquatic wildlife. There is about a 1-mile nature trail that loops around ponds and the river, and through cottonwoods and willows. Expect to see birds and other wildlife!
Know Before You Go: Oxbow is a Nature Study Area. It is important to follow posted rules and stay on marked paths. There is not a designated play area at this park, as the focus is nature itself.
Damonte Ranch Park
Address: 1950 Steamboat Pkwy., Reno, NV 89521
Hours: 8:00am – Sunset
The biggest park in the area is home to the annual Damonte Ranch 4th of July Fireworks Display. Damonte Ranch Park has incredible walking paths featuring great views, and play equipment for all ages. Parking can be limited, but the open space once there makes it worth it.
Address: 2122 Long Meadow Drive, Reno, Nevada
Hours: 8:00am – Sunset
2 Playgrounds, basketball court, basketball hoops of different heights, dog park, picnic area, splash pad (seasonal), tennis court, picnic tables, grass and more!
Truly a hidden secret, Callahan Park is nestled in the forest next to Mt. Rose Highway. Don’t forget to take deep breaths while at this park, and inhale the smell of fresh pines!
PARK HIGHLIGHTS: Always peaceful and low-key, Callahan Park is a great place to explore the big pines, ride bikes, and play in the creek. Wildflowers are abundant in the spring. There is a play structure and swings for kiddos. Callahan Park is both dog and horse-friendly, and there are walking trails for the whole family over the 25-acres.
Address: 300 Howard Dr, Sparks, NV 89434
Hours: 8:00am – Sunset
With walking paths, playgrounds, trees, and sandy beaches surrounding a 77-acre lake the Sparks Marina is one of the most popular parks in the Sparks area. The Sparks Marina is a wonderful place to go at the end of your day to take a sunset walk and watch the sky turn cotton-candy colors. There is also a dog park, volleyball court, and a Concession Stand (that runs seasonally).
Pah Rah Mountain Park
Address: 3545 Vista Blvd, Sparks, NV 89436
Hours: 6:00am – 10:00 pm
This sprawling park is well maintained and is meant for a day of fun. There are 4 different play structures and is very inclusive including some wheelchair-accessible playground areas.
Pah Rah Mountain Park has quickly become a family favorite! It has everything you need for a day of fun. Mature grass that feels good under bare-toes, shade structures, bathrooms, endless play equipment, tennis courts, large-shady trees, and paved walking paths. Bring a blanket and pack a picnic lunch for a full day at the park.
Know Before You Go: Google Maps won’t direct you to the actual parking lot, but it’s easy to park around the park’s perimeter in the residential area.
Lazy 5 Regional Park
Address: 7100 Pyramid Way, Sparks, NV 89436
Hours: 8:00am – 7:00 pm
Lazy 5 is the biggest park in the Spanish Springs area. Run by Washoe County, this expansive property features county-run programming and concert series in the summer. There are 2 children’s playgrounds, picnic pavilions, a skatepark, horseshoe pits, hiking trails, and a Water Play Park.
This neighborhood park features multiple athletic fields, playground areas, an exercise course, and picnic areas. Fenced and gated, Eagle Canyon Park is a newer park that is fun for the whole family.
This large park offers quite a bit for the kids to do and has facilities for most sports (softball, football, soccer). Playground equipment is appropriate for different ages, and there is a small water park when in season.
Washoe & Carson Valleys
Bowers Mansion Regional Park
Address: 4005 Bowers Mansion Rd, New Washoe City, NV 89704
Hours: 8:00am – 9:00pm
As you drive South on 580 towards Carson City, you will drive through Washoe Valley. Worth noting is the historic Bowers Mansion Regional Park.
This massive property, run by Washoe County, features the historic Bowers Mansion, the spring-heated swimming pools, hiking trails, picnic areas, open hills/fields, and play structures. Spend the afternoon lounging under the trees or splashing in the pool.
Address: 1111 East William Street, Carson City 89701
Hours: 7:00am – 10:00pm
One of the central parks in Carson City. Often the location for community celebrations and carnivals, Mills Park is always a fun place to play outside!
Mills Park is a 51-acre park that even includes a miniature railroad. The property also includes soccer fields, a skatepark, an Olympic-sized indoor pool, playgrounds, BBQ and picnic areas, an indoor pavilion (suitable for rodeos), horseshoe pits, and a community center.
Know Before You Go: Attractions like the train are only open seasonally. Check before you go to avoid disappointment.
Minden and Gardnerville
Minden and Gardnerville are two small towns that are further south on 395. Both towns are centered on farming and agriculture but are rich in nature, wildlife, and activities.
Address: 1324 Waterloo Ln, Gardnerville, NV 89410
Hours: 8:00am – Sunset
Gardnerville hosts its annual event, Carson Valley Days, at Lampe Park. This park features expansive fields, a stream, playgrounds galore, and plenty of picnic space.
Hidden in the little town of Genoa, famous for the annual Candy Dance festival, is this shady park. Genoa Town Park features a little museum and some old farm equipment that helps explain the area’s history.
This park is small but is so cute….like something you would see in a movie. There is a playground, swings, a basketball court, and picnic tables. The park is in a central location to the historical core of Genoa, venture around this old town and soak up some Nevada History while you’re there.
Know Before You Go: Genoa Town Park has 3 levels, a children’s playground, and modern bathrooms. Parking along Nixon Street is limited.
Planning a Trip to the Park
Nevada is still the Wild West
It’s easy to forget that Northern Nevada is still the Wild West, and is considered a high-desert environment. When getting ready for a day at the park, plan and come prepared! Here are a few things you always want to consider bringing with you before spending the day at the park:
Plenty of Water – it gets hot quickly, don’t count on the water fountains working
Plenty of Food – Pack a lunch. Pack snacks. Pack things that won’t melt in the hot sun.
Comfortable shoes – This is not the time for Crocs and flip-flops
First-Aid Kit – You just never know….kids are an accident waiting to happen
Sunscreen & Insect Repellent – The sun will creep up on you, and the bugs can swarm without warning. Come prepared for the elements.
Hats – Pull out your cute sunhat. You will thank me later. Sunburned heads are never any fun.
Shade Structure – Most parks have some kind of shade structure or trees, but it never hurts to throw an umbrella in the trunk….just in case.
Blanket/Towel – Great to sit on for a picnic, and perfect to dry off with if there’s an unexpected dip in a pond or stream.
Change/Small Bills – Some parks offer concessions, and many do not take plastic. Come prepared with change to purchase ice cream or other treats, and avoid meltdowns.
Knife or Multi-Tool – I can’t tell you how many times my pocket knife has come in handy. Cutting off scratchy tags, slicing bread/cheese, opening a bottle.
Extra Clothes & Shoes – One quick way to ruin a day is by soiled clothes early into the excursion. Pack extra clothes and shoes, for both you and your littles.
WARM clothes – Even though Nevada is the desert, it still cools down quickly once the sun goes down. Pack layers, just in case you stay out later than expected.
So Many Parks, So Little Time
What, in your opinion, makes a great park? What are some activities your family enjoys? Nevada Moms would love to hear what your favorite parks in Northern Nevada are. Please feel free to share below or on our Facebook or Instagram.
Sarah Bear Rively is a Reno resident for over 30 years and loves the uniqueness of Northern Nevada. Sarah and her husband are parents to a sassy, smart, considerate “three-anger". Sarah has spent the majority of her career helping Reno’s at-risk populations through non-profit and social service work. She now proudly works for the Northern Nevada Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Sarah considers herself a fun-loving person who enjoys laughing, getting creative, helping the community, and spending time with family. You can follow her in real life on Instagram and TikTok.