truckee river

Our 4 Favorite Kid-Friendly Activities Along the Truckee River

The Truckee River is an absolutely beautiful feature of our community. There are several kid-friendly activities involving the Truckee River, available to kids of all ages, and throughout several seasons.

For anyone unfamiliar with the Truckee River, it is the only outlet for Lake Tahoe. Like, the actual only one. The Truckee River runs 100 miles from Tahoe City, through Truckee, Reno, Sparks, and all the way out to Pyramid Lake.

Safety First

Truly, the Truckee River is beautiful, but it has to be said that it can be very dangerous as well. While I will share some of our favorite things to do on the river, please make sure that you are taking all necessary precautions to keep your babes safe.

The river can rage at times or in certain areas, and as is the case with all bodies of water, always do your due diligence to make sure that time spent at the river is safe.

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4 Truckee River Activities that are Kid Friendly

float the truckee river

Floating the River

Floating the Truckee River is absolutely our favorite activity to do on the river. We did it during the summer of 2019 and it was an adventure for all of us.

We chose to drive up to Tahoe and rented a big blue raft from a company up in Tahoe City. We went this route (as opposed to just floating using devices of our own) because we knew that the boats would be bigger, which meant more room for the kids.

We also wanted the safety of a monitored parking lot, and a ride back to our car was a huge factor.

Basically, we didn’t want to have to worry about anything else other than having a good time.

The Truckee River was low at that time of year, so there were actually points where my husband got out to push us a couple of times…but that also meant that the kids could help. They could wade in the Truckee at several points.

There was even a guy selling ice cream along the way, and of course, we just *had* to stop (bonus: we could pay with Venmo, which was great since we didn’t have cash on us).

There were truly no rough parts along our journey, except one small stretch towards the end. Our kids wore life jackets where we felt they needed to (I have too much respect for the water not to fear it), but most of the time was spent pretty leisurely.

The whole excursion took a few hours and we had a great time. We brought some snacks along for the ride, which was a super good idea. I highly recommend it and we will do it again.

Cleaning Up the River

Yes, I for real have taken my kids to the Truckee River just to make them pick up trash.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that it was *their* favorite activity to do along the river, BUT it is one of mine.

Our environment and our community are big deals to us at home. We have the philosophy of leaving places better than we found them. Every single time we take a trip to the lake, I make my kids pick up 10 pieces of trash each before we leave. It teaches them responsibility and taking care of the things that we love.

Additionally, it helps to ensure that my kids aren’t going to be the ones polluting the river that supplies 85 percent of the water used in homes and businesses in the Truckee Meadows.

During one of our River Clean-ups, my middle daughter said, “UGH! Why are we always picking up other peoples’ trash!” And I responded, “So that you know that it’s never ok.” She rolled her eyes and kept going, and I’m 99% sure that she will remember how much it sucks, and make sure that she’s a part of the solution and not the problem (at least that’s what my mama heart hopes for).

[Side note: whenever you are cleaning up any space or place, take extra precaution outdoors. There’s trash with sharp edges and you don’t want your babes getting hurt. Wear gloves, use a litter picker if you have one available to you, and bring garbage bags. Always be aware of the area that you’re in and always stay safe!]


kid friendly activities truckee river

As with most bodies of water, kids are drawn to the Truckee River like a moth to flame. Water is just so great for sensory and development play, and kids know it!

We like to retreat to one of our incredible alpine lakes as often as we can in the summer, but the Truckee River is a closer option if we’re in need of a less-time consuming escape.

We like to go to a park on the river, find a quiet little spot, bring a picnic lunch, and just spend some time splashing around.

Since it’s not a full-day excursion to the lake, I also don’t have to pack nearly as much gear (i.e. I don’t have to mess with the sand toys or floaties), and that’s a huge bonus in and of itself.

This is the time that I want to look back on with a completely wistful and smitten heart. These are the memories that I want them to remember as best they can.


Now that my babes are a little older, we really enjoy going on a family walk.

We talk and prance and play, and as long as we stop before anybody’s legs are about to fall off, then it’s a good time.

Luckily, there are LOTS of places along the Truckee that are safe and simply beautiful. There is a bike trail that lines the Truckee River within the city, so just make sure that you have a safe route and walk to your heart’s content…or your toddler’s expiration time…whichever comes first.

My favorite part about walking along the Truckee is that you can do it during any season. Bundle up if it’s cold, wear your sunscreen if it’s hot, and just enjoy.

Try walking along with a few different spots and find your family’s fave…then go again and again, season after season, year after year, and watch your babies think of that piece of the river as your family’s “spot”. [Insert teary mama eyes here.]


truckee river kid friendly

We really are lucky to have the Truckee River available to us.

Lots of rivers in big cities are gross, murky, and cloudy, but our Truckee River is filled with that beautiful clear Lake Tahoe water.

Be safe, explore, and make memories with those babies!

Jenelle S

Jenelle Stathes married her high-school sweetheart and they share their love with their three darling and fierce daughters. She works as the CEO of their small family business and as a group fitness instructor for a local gym. Jenelle was born and raised right here in Reno, Nevada, and is doing her best at living a non-judgy and tribe-loving mom life. She has experience with infertility, weight loss, body positivity, fitness, and most recently, a tummy tuck. You can follow Jenelle to laugh either with her or at her as she traverses through the daily adventures of motherhood.