23 Weekend Road Trips from Reno
Starting out from Reno, there are many driving trips for sightseeing, hiking, visiting wineries, enjoying the scenic beauty or just relaxing. We’ve gathered up some of the best Nevada and California have to offer, so you can plan ahead for an unforgettable two or three-day weekend road trip.
- Elko The Great American West is alive and thriving in Elko, located near the Ruby Mountains. Famous for its annual Cowboy Poetry, this ranching community offers fishing, edgy adventure and snowmobiling in season. The Northeastern Nevada Museum Western Folklife Center features the Cowboy Arts & Gear Museum with a replica saddle shop and exhibits depicting the culture and traditions of the cowboy in America.
- Lamoille Canyon Known as the Grand Canyon of Nevada, situated in the Ruby Mountains, Lemoille Canyon is breathtaking in any season. Located near Elko, the scenic drive is only 12 miles long and spears deep into the heart of the glacier carved Rubies. Day hikers can drive to trail heads and then walk up to many mountain lakes and canyons. Campers and RVs are allowed.
- Lake Tahoe This scenic drive is a 68 mile loop (not always open year-round) through Nevada and California that covers South Lake Tahoe, Incline Village and Tahoe City. You’ll see the famous Fanny Bridge, Sand Harbor, Emerald Bay and even drive through a mountain at Cave Rock. If you’re looking for nightlife, the casino hotels at South Lake Tahoe offers entertainment, fine dining and gambling.
- Big Sur A favorite place for generations, Big Sur is known for its soaring cliff, miles of shoreline and deep forests. The activities range from whale watching to hiking to luxuriating at locale spas. There are three million acres of wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest on the eastern slope to the spectacular coastline for walking on the beaches. Big Sur is on National Geographic “50 Places of a Lifetime/The World’s Greatest Destinations” list.
- Monterey One of the most beautiful places in the world, with iconic beaches and endless sea, along the magnificent Monterey Peninsula, this area draws visitors to enjoy the Pacific Ocean. There is so much to see at the historic Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, the 51 acre Monterey Zoo, the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and the 17—mile drive along the coast through Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach.
- Angel Lake Settled in northeast Nevada, near Wells, the Angel Lake Scenic Drive will blow away any preconceived notions you have about the Silver State. The 11 mile-long drive offers sweeping views of the Humboldt Mountains as you motor through thick forest. Angel Lake’s elevation at 8500 feet guarantees cool days and chilly nights, so bring a warm jacket!
- Santa Cruz Surfing first came to the mainland from Hawaii at these amazing beaches. The pedestrian friendly beaches, the legendary Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, tree-lined downtown and historic half-mile long Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf allow visitors to enjoy the waters of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. There’s a surfing museum and redwood forest to explore nearby.
- Mammoth Lakes The size of the mountains pretty much says it all in this land of majestic peaks and year-round natural beauty. From wide valleys to crystal clear mountain lakes, there are endless opportunities for adventure. The record snow-fall year makes it possible to plan a ski getaway with 610 inches of base at the lodge and 750 inches at the 11, 053 ft. summit and the entire 3500 acres of terrain.
- Napa Valley Just a few hours away there are more than 400 wineries in the fertile Napa Valley, a premier viticulture region, famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon. You can stay in a lavish resort or settle in a charming B&B. Hot air balloon rides, wine tastings, and interesting shops will fill your day, followed by meals prepared by top-rated chefs at the plenteous restaurants dotting the area.
- Apple Hill As the name suggests, Apple Hill is famous for its fruit farms, but along the way there are wineries (David Girard, Boeger, Lava Cap, Madrona, Patriot to name a few), grape orchards, flower gardens, bake shops, berry farms and restaurants like the Farm Table in Placerville.
- Calaveras Big Trees If you’ve ever wanted to see giant sequoias, here’s the place to go. These majestic beauties in the Calaveras Big Trees State park are a year-round destination with hands-on exhibits, hiking, biking, snowshoe and cross-country trails (in winter), located in the Sierra Foothills.
- American River Rafting The South Fork of the American River has been a premier whitewater rafting destination for generations. Located in the heart of the Sierra Foothills in the middle of the Gold Rush country, the towns of Coloma and Lotus offer professional rafting company guided trips from Chili Bar to Salmon Falls, featuring class 3 rapids to challenge even expert kayakers. High water levels may close the river to rafters, so check ahead.
- Nevada City This little gem of a city is California’s best preserved Gold Rush town, with so much to offer. Deer Creek flows through the center of town and provides ancient history of the Nisenan tribe of Native Americans. Nevada City has a substantial cultural and environmental community from the Nevada Film Festival, the Miners Foundry, headquarters for the Tahoe National Forest, wineries, along with fine restaurants and friendly bars in its vibrant downtown.
- Ukiah Just 2 hours north of San Francisco, Ukiah is a free-thinkers community for those seeking escape from the usual. Featuring world-class cultural venues, wineries, outdoor recreation this quirky little town, where “expression is a tradition”, is home to the City Of 10,000 Buddhas, the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds, Real Goods Solar Living Center, the Historic Skunk Train, Shambala Ranch Spa, Orr Hot Springs, and Seabiscuit Ranch.
- Death Valley Below sea level, Death Valley is the hottest, driest and lowest National Park. With towering peaks and rare rainstorms, spring offers vast fields of wildflowers and lush oases. This refuge for wildlife and humans, offers great diversity of life, despite its name. Wildlife includes the Desert Bighorn sheep, desert tortoise that can live up to 60 years and big-eared jackrabbits.
- El Dorado Hills Bike trail riding through the rolling foothills of the Sierras is a big draw for Eldorado Hills, where May is bike month. You and your family can take the El Dorado Trail out of Placerville, the Lake Natoma look from Folsom and Browns Ravine to Mormon Island Auxiliary Dan Trail. Situated east of the State Capital of Sacramento, this Gold Rush town was the site of two Pony Express routes.
- Amador County In the heart of Gold Country in the foothills, this county boasts the Eldorado National Forest, many vineyards, shops, boutiques and even the chance to pan for gold. Legend has it that Fiddletown was named by fiddle-playing miners; Jackson sits at the crossroads of highways 49 and 88, making it an ideal getaway for camping, fishing and hiking; Sutter Creek is the historic site Gold Rush crowds of miners and also features wineries with tasting rooms.
- Burney Falls The McArthur – Burney Falls Memorial State Park, known as Burney Falls Park located in the foothills of the Cascades and Modoc Plateau between Mt Shasta and Mt Lassen. The spectacular 129-foot scenic falls offers golf, hunting, shooting, fishing, boating, birding, hiking, horseback riding, and photography. There is nearby lodging and restaurants, but also camping and RV spots or cabin stays.
- Old House The Old House at Benton Hot Springs near Mono, CA is a rustic history lesson, where you can enjoy a soak and watch the stars. The Inn and ranch have been family owned and operated for 90 years and offers all of the amenities you’ll need for a relaxing commune with nature.
- Grover Hot Springs Situated on the east side of the Sierras, at the edge of the Great Basin Province south of Marleeville, Grover Hot Springs State Park is known for “open pine forest and sagebrush meadows”. The green water of the hot springs comes from mineral salts in the water and even with snow on the ground the waters offer warmth and relaxation. Campers should be prepared to adequately store food out of the reach of bears.
- Volcanic National Park The Lassen Volcanic National Park features roaring fumaroles (steam and volcanic gas vents), boiling pools, bubbling mud pots and ground that steams. Super-heated steam rises through fractures to form fumaroles like those found at Bumpass Hell and Sulphur Works, signifying that this is an active volcano. For safety, there are established trails and boardwalks. There is limited hiking on snow-free trails and opportunities for ski and snowshoe activities.
- Sierra Buttes Located along Gold Lake road, the Sierra Buttes and Lakes Basin Recreation Area is an outdoor wonderland, with craggy peaks and year-round activities, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, alpine touring, swimming, hiking, fishing, kayaking, sailing, boating, bicycling, horse-back riding and 4-wheeling.
- Cliff House San Francisco’s historic Cliff House, restored to its classic beauty, offers a day with the family or and elegant evening, with amazing views of Ocean Beach and the Pacific Ocean’s Seal Rocks and the Marin Headlands. The jewel of the Sutro Historic Landscape District the Cliff House features the famous Sutro Baths. There are trails for hiking and access to the beach for a stroll, followed by appetizers and drinks in the Zinc Bar or Sutro’s Bar & Lounge.
Whether you want to enjoy the great outdoors, sip some fine wine, dine in elegance or just take in the sights, a little trip from Reno over a weekend will be just the ticket. Travel safe!