When travelers arrive at the Reno airport for their Lake Tahoe vacation, they want nothing more than to get up the mountain as fast as possible. While the sapphire water of the enormous alpine lake is breathtaking, there are a few gems tourists might want to check out along the way.
There are several avenues one can take when heading to Lake Tahoe from The Biggest Little City in the World, such as through Carson City and up Highway 50 into South Shore or Interstate 80 through Truckee and ultimately into either Tahoe City or Kings Beach. The quickest route, though, is Highway 431, also known as Mt. Rose Highway.
Lake Tahoe is definitely the pot of gold at the end of the vacation rainbow, but there are some other nuggets to see along the 37-mile Mt. Rose journey.
The Summit – OK, so shopping may be the farthest thing from a vacationer’s mind, but the sheer abundance of quality stores and restaurants located at The Summit, warrants mention. Before spending time enjoying the great outdoors, immerse yourself in a little indoor decadence. Stores include Banana Republic, Gap, Hollister, Patrick James, bebe, Ann Taylor, Chico’s, J.Crew, Talbot’s, Sketchers, Bath & Body Works, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, and the always-popular Apple store.. For those looking to eat after hitting the shops and before hitting the road, there is BJ’s Brewhouse, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chocolate Bar, FatBurger, and the omnipresent Starbuck’s.
Galena Creek Park – Nestled at the foothills of the Sierra, right along Mt. Rose Highway, this regional park offers incredible hiking in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. Feel free to inquire about ranger-led expeditions through the park, the exhibits in the old stone visitor’s center, and the campfire opportunities. There is also fishing and a plethora of picnic areas to choose from.
Mt. Rose Meadows – A local favorite for its stunning views of both Nevada to the northeast and the Tahoe Basin to the southwest, there is a myriad of hiking and mountain biking paths to enjoy in the summer – including a single track that leads off the mountain and south down into the Carson City area. To the north is a popular trail to Tamarack Lake. In the winter, this is a favorite locale for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and sledding.
Mt. Rose Turnoff – Yes, just a tiny concrete space on the side of Mt. Rose Highway, but should be mentioned as almost the entire lake can be seen from this vantage point. As far as tiny concrete highway pull-outs are concerned, this one rivals the parking lot overlooking Emerald Bay and the “Tea House” on Fannette Island.
There are many other great options to choose from depending on the season, such as skiing at Mt. Rose Ski Resort, heading east into Virginia City, or playing golf at Arrowcreek Country Club or if you know somebody at the private Montreux Gold Club where the PGA Tour stops once a year.
Considering just how spectacular, though, Lake Tahoe truly is, it’s understandable if most tourists just head straight there. After all, it is a diamond in the Sierra rough.
But for those who want to take their time and enjoy what Mt. Rose Highway has to offer, there are certainly a few pearls to discover.