November is a month synonymous with Thanksgiving and the start of holiday season. For many people, that means more time with family and friends, eating good food together and exchanging gifts.
Whether this fills you with excitement or dread—depending on your relationships and your preferences—spending time outside can be a great way to boost your mood. It can provide a much-needed break from obligations, or offer a way to bond with relatives you don’t often see. No matter what you like to do, there’s something outdoorsy for you.
One classic option is to join a fun run or walk on Thanksgiving—before diving into your meal. Scheels in Sparks puts on an annual Turkey Trot, where you can run or walk 2 miles around the Sparks Marina, or opt for the 10k route if you’re feeling ambitious. Desert Sky Adventures hosts Reno’s Wobble Before You Gobble, with a timed 5k route and an untimed 1-mile walking route. Make either of these events extra-interesting by wearing a costume—or coordinating a whole group of costume-wearing walkers and runners.
If you’ve got young children or older relatives to include, take advantage of Washoe County’s Regional Parks and Open Space system. Idlewild Park, Rancho San Rafael Regional Park and the Sparks Marina are just a few options with excellent playground equipment for kids. Virginia Lake is an in-town favorite with a walking trail, playground equipment and picnic tables. Pah Rah Mountain Park is a hidden gem in Sparks. It’s a little off the beaten path yet conveniently right next to Vista Boulevard, and has a plethora of playgrounds scattered across a grassy expanse. It features tennis courts and the hint of a baseball field—which can be turned into a soccer pitch or football field with a little imagination.
Washoe County also hosts various themed days for kids, families and adults throughout the year. Join one of their Fall Photo Hikes on Saturday, Nov. 4, at Bartley Ranch Regional Park. On Sunday, Nov. 5, you can meet turkeys and other farm animals at the annual Meet the Turkeys event at Rancho San Rafael Park. Most Wednesdays feature Little Sprouts, a craft event for kids ages 2-5 at Rancho San Rafael’s Ranch House.
Paved trails throughout the city make for a great experience on wheels. Whether you like biking, have some rollerblades or are bringing along a stroller, there’s a path for you in the Riverwalk District in downtown Reno. Wingfield Park is a good spot to dip your toes in the chilly Truckee River. The Eddy has a large, sunny, dog-friendly outdoor space where you can grab a drink, enjoy live music and play games like giant Jenga. Just a few blocks over on Lake Street, Bundox Bocce at the Renaissance hotel has several outdoor bocce courts. If you’ve never played before, the rules are clearly explained—and everything is made a little bit better with appetizers and small plates from the bar.
Farther from the city center, solitude and sunshine await on the Veterans Parkway Bike Path that runs parallel to Veterans Parkway in Hidden Valley. It can get windy in the afternoons, but the openness and copious views provide 3.8 miles of uninterrupted enjoyment for bikers, runners and skaters. Or follow the Tahoe-Pyramid Trail to wind along the Truckee River on a paved surface (that occasionally consists of bike lanes) as it meanders through parks, meadows and the occasional neighborhood.
If you and yours would prefer to get off the pavement, there is no shortage of options. Some of my favorites are the view from the top of Rattlesnake Mountain near the airport, the solitude in the trees around Thomas Creek near Galena, searching for bootlegger’s cabins and frogs in Lagomarsino Canyon just east of Sparks, and exploring the stunning, 360-degree views from Prison Hill, outside of Carson City.
If you’re an animal lover, there are lots of places to check out our local wildlife. Great flocks of migrating birds frequent Washoe Lake and Hidden Valley, from soaring golden eagles to purposeful Vs of white pelicans—and even the occasional sandhill crane, calling out like a dinosaur that belongs in a Jurassic Park movie. This is also the time of year when deer start to migrate down from the mountains and can be seen near dusk, grazing wherever they can find food, particularly along the eastern side of Washoe Lake. As the days grow cooler, it’s easier to spot fence lizards and whip lizards sunning themselves on desert rocks as the days heat up.
No matter what sorts of things you like to do or how you’re spending this holiday season, Reno and the surrounding areas are full of great ways to get outdoors easily and simply. You can go by yourself or take the whole family. Either way, you’ll end up with great memories that can’t be purchased at any holiday sale.