Nevada has 23 state parks, which for the sheer mass of our state is not many. Also, if you live anywhere in Nevada, there is a good chance there are a few parks close enough to make an afternoon of it. Deciding where to start in this series was easy enough as Washoe Lake State Park is 10 miles from my hometown of Carson City and very easy to visit. In fact, I find Carson City to be a really great central point for all of the state parks on the west side of the state, and it isn’t just because I really love where I live. Since Washoe Lake is so close to home our first visit was a quick stop on a very windy afternoon. I took both kids after preschool pickup with hot chocolates and donuts, because adventures with toddlers always requires balance.
As anyone who has commuted from Carson City to Reno or Reno to Carson City knows that Washoe Valley is windy. Period. Our first visit was no exception. In fact, it was so windy, we might as well been at the ocean with the waves coming off the lake! While really cool to see, our visit wasn’t much more than what you see here, oh, and getting our stamp in our passport! The best part, Oliver still talks about our visit where we ate donuts in the car and it was really windy. Memories, all about the memories.
We tried again a few weeks later as the weather around here has been unseasonably warm and being outside has been so pleasant. I packed us a picnic, two toddlers, and one rat terrier into the car and headed out for the afternoon. Not only was it a beautiful day but there wasn’t a single breeze! That is extremely rare, so we definitely soaked up every minute.
Washoe Lake Highlights
- Lots of picnic areas with bbqs for day use
- Large campground
- Easy short trails leading to the water
- The maze and hang glide landing zone
One thing I’ve notice with parks in general are the number of under utilized BBQ’s. I know using them can be frightening as who knows what has happened there before, but you know we are working with high temperatures so doesn’t all the scary get burned off anyways? I’ve wanted to get past the typical sandwich picnic and venture out a little more so I used the tips I found on The Kitchn and packed some hot dogs along for the ride. Boy, were they a hit! Added bonus: I got to spend some more time relaxing as the charcoal heated up. I’ll go into more detail on my park bbq ventures at a later time when I’ve moved beyond the hot dog.
We spent the rest of the afternoon eating our lunch, throwing rocks and sticks into the lake, and taking a walk along the beaches. They aren’t pristine, smooth sand beaches and the water isn’t crystal clear, but its authentic and we all loved it. Washoe Lake is known to dry up during our droughts, so having a full lake is something that needs to be enjoyed. We definitely plan on being back often throughout the year and will definitely report back on our summer activities.
On a side note, my husband took the kids back out to Washoe Lake as I found a a little maze on our way out with sleepy kids in the car and thought the kids might enjoy an adventure with just daddy. Oliver loved it and Annabelle slept. It was windy again but they had fun and Oliver learned how to jump a fence. Way to go daddy, teach him the good stuff