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Your Next Outdoor Adventure Destination
Words by Shyene Joubert ● Sponsored by Visit Carson City
Are you an adventurer looking to explore a less crowded side of the Sierra Nevada? Look no further than Carson City, Nevada! Nestled on the east side of the Sierra Nevada, Carson City offers scenic trails, iconic rivers, and outdoor activities guaranteed to surprise and delight anyone looking to spend quality time outdoors.
Nestled on the east side of the Sierra Nevada, savvy outdoor enthusiasts are making their way to Carson City, Nevada, a hidden gem vacation destination where the Old West is preserved with a modern twist. It’s where you can ride or hike uncrowded trails, splash in the mountain river, dine on eclectic cuisine and sip top-ranked brews. At day’s end, snuggle up and toast s’mores by the fire, then relax in comfort at one of the many welcoming lodging properties that won’t break the bank.
The best adventure stories are still ahead. Here are just a few ways to make them in Carson City:
Hiking with Goats
Seize the day and set the tone for your weekend by heading out for a walk with Bosco, John Snow and Oatcake—just three of the eight High Sierra Pack Goats. Of course, you’ll also be accompanied by their owner and northern Nevada native, Jodie Gullickson, who started High Sierra Pack Goats in 2021 after her pack helped her hike the 172-mile Tahoe Rim Trail. While you won’t be putting on that kind of mileage on your hour and a half adventure, if you absolutely love this experience, you can always come back on a multi-day excursion of hiking and sleeping under the stars, while the goats do all of the heavy lifting.
Keep the good times rolling… with rafting.
The Carson River flows from the Sierra Nevada, through Carson City and into the Lahontan Reservoir—that’s over 180 miles! There are kayaking trips for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels and everyone is encouraged to check out the Carson River Aquatic Trial map to ensure they are on a section of the river that matches their ability and comfort levels. With record-setting snowpack in the Sierra, the 2023 winter has been a significant one, which means the river will be a rafter’s paradise. Travelers unfamiliar with the river will get the most out of it by staying within sections best suited to their abilities. Kayak rentals and other equipment can be reserved in advance through the Carson City Parks, Recreation & Open Space Department, which also offers guided adventures off the river. Those guided trips will be listed on the City’s Parks, Recreation & Open Space Department’s website, carson.org.
Hit the trails
Get your land-legs back by traversing the Lincoln Bypass, a trail named after the original Lincoln Highway built in 1913. This 4.4-mile hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trail takes you from Carson City to the Ash Canyon to Kings Canyon Trail. You can take your time soaking up the scenery as this route has less traffic than other popular hiking spots in northern Nevada. Although it’s beautiful any time of year, Great Basin wildflowers like prickly poppies and Mariposa lilies flourish along the path in the spring, adding some color to the pine forest.
If your trip takes place in the summer, a new route, the Capital to Tahoe Trail will open in early July . This will take you from the Carson City Capitol building’s steps all the way up to Lake Tahoe. (And, continuing on the Tahoe Rim Trail, you eventually reach the Pacific Crest Trail that ends in British Columbia, though that will take you longer than a weekend to explore to the fullest.) Thanks to Muscle Powered—a local organization dedicated to making Carson City healthier and more accessible—hikers, backpackers, equestrians, and mountain bikers alike can enjoy this new trail.
Dip, Dine and Sip
All of this activity will likely leave you sore and famished. Carson City has just the ticket. Warm up your muscles by participating in the Carson City Triathlon. Don’t worry, no athletic ability is required. This activity simply requires you to Dip, Dine and Sip. Simple enough, right? Start off by taking a dip in the Carson Hot Springs, a natural hot spring located in Carson City. After you’ve soaked your soreness away, head next door and dine at Sassafrass (a foodie’s haven). Just when you’re thinking this couldn’t get any better, next, grab an award-winning brew at Shoe Tree Brewing. Pro tip: get an online pass ahead of time at visitcarsoncity.com so you can check into all three locations online, receive discounts and—by successfully checking into all three locations in one day—you’ll get a free T-shirt and bragging rights (of course) as the Carson City Triathlon is a right of passage for visitors and locals alike.
Convenient lodging options
After a long day of adventure, unwind at one of Carson City’s many welcoming lodging properties that won’t break the bank. Carson City provides many value-added accommodations. Want a continental breakfast? Say no more. Need to verify its pet-friendly? Not a problem. Regardless of the lodging property you choose, be it name brand or a gaming property, you’ll sleep sound knowing your next outdoor adventure is just around the corner.
With mountains, alpine lakes and an abundance of historical landmarks as a backdrop, travelers will get their fill of the outdoors only to be left wanting to come back for more. Now is the perfect time and Carson City is the perfect place to make memories that will last a lifestime.
Main image: Brian Walker/Visit Carson City
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