Washoe Lake State Park

Facilities & Amenities
  • Camping
  • RV Dump Station
  • Group Camping
  • Flush Restrooms
  • Picnicking
  • Group Picnicking
  • Showers
  • Boat Launch
  • Trails
  • Swimming
  • Fishing
  • Nature Study
  • Max. RV size: 45'

In the heart of the Washoe Valley with its' spectacular views of the Carson Range and the Sierra Nevada you'll find Washoe and Little Washoe Lakes. Washoe Lake State Park is located 5 miles north of Carson City and 18 miles south of Reno.

For thousands of years, the Washoe Valley and Lakes have been home to many different Native American cultures. The area is named for the Washo Indians who were using this valley as winter habitat when the first Europeans came into the area. The Comstock Lode (silver) was discovered east of here near Virginia City in 1859. That rich discovery brought hordes of miners, traders and loggers into the valley. Several stamp mills were built on the shores of these lakes to process ore from the Comstock. Ophir, Washoe City and Lakeview sprang up as farming and ranching communities striving to supply the thousands of miners. The Virginia & Truckee Railroad began service through Washoe Valley in 1872, connecting Reno with Carson City. The mining boom was over by the late 1870's and while most of the towns in the area were soon abandoned, the railroad ran regularly until 1950. The newcomers who didn't leave with the end of the mining turned to farming and ranching and eventually displaced the Washo Indians from the valley.

In the wake of rapid urbanization in Reno and Carson City, Washoe Lake State Park was established in 1977 to preserve 8,053 acres of this beautiful area for future generations. The park is about half-and-half water and land and offers camping, hiking and horseback riding trails, picnicking, and many water sports uses: sailing, fishing, jet-skiing, windsurfing, and water skiing among them. The wetlands area also offers a viewing tower and interpretive displays.

The Main Area Campground has the only allowed camping in the park. The 49 sites, each with fire ring, grill and picnic table, are open year-round on a first come, first served basis. Some sites have shade shelters and several can accommodate RV's up to 45' long. 2 comfort stations with showers are available, but there are no power/water/sewer hookups. The campground also has a dump station.

There are a number of non-motorized trails available for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrian users in the park. The only motorized trails are in the Virginia Range to the east of the park. Bow and shotgun hunting is permitted in the park away from the developed areas during the October through February hunting season. The lake is also stocked with bullheads, channel catfish, Sacramento perch, and white and wiper bass. You'll want the proper license in your pocket if you engage in these activities.

At 5,029', Washoe Lake sits just below treeline in open sagebrush country. As the lake is higher than both Carson City and Reno, temperatures at lakeside usually run 5 to 10 degrees lower than in the cities.

Washoe Lake State Park
Washoe Lake State Park
Top photo courtesy of Nevada State Parks
Bottom photo courtesy of the USDA NRCS  
Lake Tahoe area map

Related Pages

Map courtesy of National Geographic Topo!