The University of Nevada students have a huge letter in on the side of a hill on the NW side of Reno. Is was made of rocks painted white and is visible from the air as well as from the highway. It is a nice, moderately strenuous hike that provides awesome views of the city skyline.
We began at Evans Creek/Canyon trail and worked out way up to the "N". There are at least two places to access the trailhead: 1. from Rancho San Rafael park on the south side of McCarran (this park has a nice loop if you want to add more distance to your hike).; 2. from Reno Softball Complex (the place we choose/shorter distance).
Work your way up the Evans Creek trail and you can see the "N" most of the time. Evans Creek trail is mostly easy. Once you reach the ridge below the "N", you begin a more steep climb. The trail is loose gravel, and you kinda slide around so be careful.
The Reno "Biggest Little City in the World" Arch on Virginia Street is not the original one. The Reno arch was replaced years ago with the more modern arch that spans Virginia Street today. However, the old arch is still around. It was relocated to South Lake Street in front of the Sienna Hotel and Casino. This historic arch stands as a remembrance of another era for Reno.
The Cal Nevada Casino at North Lake Tahoe features the state line separating California and Nevada running through the parking lot, the lobby area, and the pool.
The casino of course is only on the Nevada side and there is no agricultural inspection station for 20 miles.
Heading south toward Virginia City, take Highway 395 south from Reno (it's called S. Virginia St). It merges with a four-lane highway. Take the 341 turnoff, and follow it into the mountains. Up there is a fine view of Reno and the surrounding valley. It's worth seeing if you're on your way to Virginia City.
Actually, it is probably pretty easy to do for travellers. Lots of people find that it is easy to stay up all night in the casino. And, when you finally leave, take a gander at the skyline. Lots of pretty sunrises in Reno.
If you are traveling with kids, there are several animal parks in the Reno area. My nephew enjoyed seeing the tigers, the bears, and other wildcats. But he loved the ants and bugs stuck in the cactus flowers the most.
Unless you get lost or go looking for it, you might miss this bridge near the old arch of Reno. It's on the edge of town, away from the most popular casinos. But I'd suggest wandering along the riverfront. From this bridge you can look upriver and see artwork in the middle of the river.
It is a common sight to see wild horses east of Reno. This small band of mustangs was behind Rattlesnake Hill on the eastern edge of Reno.
One of my favorite country music singers Lacy J. Dalton is very active in the protection of mustangs. She lives in Virginia City, nestled in the mountains to the east of Reno. When you come down the Geiger Grade into Reno from Virginia City, you'll even see warning signs that help remind drivers they are running around.
Behind Rattlesnake Hill on the eastern edge of Reno (off McCarren) you can drive back into the hills. You'd get to see some scenery shots like this, lots of sagebrush, mustangs, and a nice view of "the biggest little city". Another scenic drive up into the hills would be to go east on State Route 431 to Virginia City.
Look for the movie Cobb at the video rental store and you'll see what Reno looked like in the 1940's. The movie company worked to track down the old arch, and had it restored and temporarily hung on 4th Street where the buildings looked older so that they could recreate an older version of Reno. After the movie production was completed the City of Reno moved the old arch and it can be found near the William F. Harrah National Automobile Museum on Lake Street.
On the edge of downtown near the Sienna between the Lake Street and Center Street Bridges there is a patch of the Truckee River filled with rock animals. That's what they are supposed to be. It's unique, makes you do a double-take.
Driving up and over Mt. Rose on State Route 431 is one of Nevada's Scenic Byways not to be missed while visiting Reno. Taking this route will get you to Lake Tahoe in less than an hour. There are about 15 miles of steep grade and winding roads with drastic switchbacks. I find the road is well-maintained, just make sure to follow the warning signals if they are flashing.
Along SR431 there are some lovely views of the Reno/Sparks area (at night the lights sparkle like a million stars), as well as on the east side of the summit there are magnificent view of Lake Tahoe and Incline Village. My suggestion for sight-seeing tourists with cameras handy are that if you go up to Tahoe, you may want to try another route to drive up, and chose SR431 as the highway to come back to Reno because most of the pull-offs you'll want to stop at will be on the right-hand side of the road.
My favorite time to drive that way is in the dark in the winter. It is awesome when the moon is full. The incredibly deep snow reflects light, making the giant pine stands and their shadows something else to see. If you cross-country ski, there are places to stop and explore the Sierra Nevada pine forests and mountainside; full moon ski or snowshoe trips are very popular around here. At about 8,000 feet, slightly west of the summit you will come to Mt. Rose Ski Resort (only about 12 or 13 miles from the 395 and Virginia Street), the closest ski destination and very popular.
You can see by this picture taken from SR431 to the east of Reno, that Rattlesnake Hill is uninhabited. Looks like an island in the middle of a sea of lights.
Hiking and camping is something that people miss when they come to Reno. Hiking is a beautiful way to see Nevada.