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Carson City

Enjoy year-round outdoor adventure mixed with Old West charm

The capital of Nevada, Carson City, sits in the Eagle Valley in the western part of the state, about nine miles east of Lake Tahoe. Its location on the Carson River made it an important trading post during the California Gold Rush, when it was still part of the Utah Territory. In 1859, the Comstock Lode—an enormous strike of silver ore (and the first major metal vein to be discovered in the United States)—was found in the nearby Virginia Range. This discovery led to a significant influx of settlers, and by 1864, under Abraham Lincoln, Nevada earned its statehood.

The city has a semi-arid climate and an average of 264 days of sunshine a year, which makes it a good spot for those who like to spend a lot of time outdoors. Expect temperatures just above freezing in the wintertime and pleasant summer temperatures hovering in the 70s.

While outdoor sports and activities reign supreme in this region, it’s also well known for its excellent golf courses (known collectively as the Divine Nine) and its abundance of antique shops. The immediate Carson City area alone has seven casinos, most of which have amenities for children, and serious gamblers can head over to Reno or Lake Tahoe, each of which is around a 30- to 45-minute drive away.


Outdoor Adventureland

Hiking is hugely popular here, and Carson City’s position smack in the middle of the Eastern Sierras makes it a good spot to get out into the rugged countryside. Even those who just want a leisurely stroll can find easy, short trails at the 109-acre Riverview Park. Hikers can follow scenic pathways that run along the Carson River. It’s also an off-leash space for dogs (though they are not allowed in wetland areas), and it’s not uncommon to spot wild mustang horses in the area.

Carson City is also popular among mountain biking enthusiasts, with lots of single-track trails for experienced bikers in both Ash Canyon and Kings Canyon. Other trails include the 13-mile Scott-McClellan Peak climb, which rises 7,000 feet at its highest point.

The Carson River Trail is even longer, at 15 miles in length, but with an elevation gain of around 1,300 feet.

Paddle sports are also a major activity in the summertime, and the city’s 12.6-mile Carson River Aquatic Trail is a fantastic stretch for kayakers with a bit of experience. Those just getting started with paddle sports can head to Carson River Park for a 3.3-mile float along cottonwood-lined shores at the Upper River Class I-II stretch.

Carson City and the entire Lake Tahoe region is equally fun to visit during the winter months, when powdery snow blankets its many peaks and valleys, making it popular for downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

The Divine Nine

Carson City has positioned itself as a premier golf vacation destination, and it’s a good jumping-off point for golfers wanting to visit some or all of the area’s nine golf courses, collectively referred to as the “Divine 9.” The oldest of these, the Carson Valley Golf Course, is a good place for beginners.

On the flipside, the Sunridge Golf Club is best suited to experienced golfers, with plenty of fairways, water hazards and sand traps. One of the most beautiful spots to golf in the area, the Genoa Lakes Golf Club & Resort has two championship courses. As the name suggests, the Lakes Course is full of gorgeous lakes and scenery, while the links-style Ranch Course is characterized by open spaces and around 300 feet of elevation changes.


Sydney Martinez/TravelNevada

History, Shopping and Antiquing

Two museums demand your attention: The Nevada State Museum and Nevada State Railroad Museum. The former covers the history and prehistory of the Silver State, while the latter chronicles the state’s rich railroad past, including the Virginia City and Truckee Railroad.

Today’s visitors can catch a ride on a vintage train traveling the V&T Railroad, which chugs between Carson City and Virginia City. Once employed by the mining industry, the railroad now serves visitors with themed excursions. Catch a wine tasting train or dinner train, or take kids on the Polar Express ride. While in Virginia City, explore the the town’s Wild West-style village, complete with historic saloons and old-time shops.

Though Carson City is a relatively small place, with a population of around 55,000, it has a lot to offer shoppers. Lovers of antiques can find everything from Victorian furniture to military relics at the city’s many arts and antique shops. Particularly good areas to begin your antique hunt are North Curry Street, Highway 50 East (at Mond House) and Highway 395 North in Gardnerville.

Downtown Carson City has a shopping district full of quaint mom-and-pop shops specializing in everything from cigars to diamonds.

For More Information

Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau




Nevada Commission on Tourism