One week in Sparks NV…
Why we came…
To fish Pyramid Lake and check out Lake Tahoe.
Sparks Marina RV Resort is nice. It’s big with over 200 sites and was busy during our stay. We had new neighbors nearly every day. It was quiet each night after everyone settled in. The RV park has a big staff that works hard to maintain everything. There are quite a few long termers but they keep their sites tidy. We had a pull-through site that was paved, level, and had full hook-ups. Satellite TV was good, but there was also cable, and probably a good selection of over-the-air channels. Wi-fi was usually good, but slowed at times during high usage. Our phones showed a Verizon signal with 3 bars LTE but acted more like 3G.
Sparks Marina RV Resort has over 200 full hook-up sites
Mount Rose and the Sierra Nevada Mountains dominate the western sky line of the Reno area
We liked the location. It was a couple of blocks off of the highway and within walking distance to a bunch of stores, restaurants, and Sparks Lake. Downtown Reno was five miles west, Pyramid Lake 35 miles north, and Lake Tahoe was 40 miles to the southwest. There is plenty to do in the area!
We liked the two mile walk around Sparks Lake
Sparks NV, population 90,264 and elevation 4,413 feet, and Reno NV, population 225,221 and elevation 4,505 feet, make up Nevada’s second most populated area and the nation’s 114th largest metro area. We usually avoid densely populated areas, but the region has a lot to offer. There is an abundance of restaurants, stores, services, and a busy airport. Gambling and entertainment are big draws, but we came for the surrounding mountains and desert. If we had to live in a city, Reno would offer us more than most.
Fly-fishing Pyramid Lake…
Time to fish! It would be the first time since Kolob Reservoir near Zion NP in early November. We started the day at Reno Fly Shop. Matt was very helpful and gave me advice on the best flies and the best places to fish on Pyramid Lake. We purchased some of the recommended flies and set out for the special lake that I have been reading about for years.
“Pyramid Lake is located 35 miles northeast of Reno, Nevada and is the property of and managed by the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe... Pyramid Lake was designated as the first National Scenic Byway entirely on an Indian reservation.”
“The lake occupies 110,517 surface acres inside the reservation boundary and has a shoreline of approximately 125 miles. The lake has no outlet and is a residual body remaining from the prehistoric Great Lake Lahontan water body that covered most of northwestern Nevada thousands of years ago.”
Maps of Lake Lahontan depicted about 15,000 years ago
“The lake is fed primarily by the Truckee River and was named one of the best fisheries in the world by Fly Fishing and Tying Journal in 2010. The lake is world renowned for its Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.”
The world record Lahontan Cutthroat was 41 pounds. Twenty pounders trout are caught fairly regularly. I would be very happy to admire a ten pound cutthroat and then watch it slip back into the depths of the huge desert lake.
As soon as we popped over the last hill and caught site of Pyramid Lake, we could see why it considered one of North America’s most scenic desert lakes. First, we stopped at the Ranger Station of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe to purchase a fishing permit. She was very friendly and helpful.
We made our way to Shot Dog point that Matt had recommended. We immediately saw fly-fishermen perched on ladders. The unusual method is preferred at Pyramid Lake because it’s easier to spot fish and it keeps you out of the cold water.
Most people fish Pyramid Lake from ladders
We parked near some Tufa rocks. “Tufa rock formations are unusually shaped rocks found around the lake. These rocks are composed of calcium carbonate deposits that form at the mouth of a spring and lake water.” They made a perfect perch for me to stand on and get a good eye into the water.
As I fished I admired the bird life; Grebes, Cormorants, American White Pelicans, and one lone Loon. The lake is, “home to the Anaho Island National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was established 1913 by executive order by President Woodrow Wilson as a preserve and breeding grounds for native birds. Anaho Island supports one of the largest breed colonies of American White Pelicans in North America.”
Pyramid Lake harbors one of the largest American White Pelican populations in the US
The pelicans are graceful when they glide inches above the water
I fished for several hours without so much as a bite. In the late afternoon four other fishermen joined me on my Tufa rocks.
Finally, as dusk enveloped us and the sky turned pink, I felt a slight tug. The average sized, 18 inch long trout, boiled the water for a few minutes before coming to hand. At last, I was able to admire an ancient Lahontan Cutthroat Trout!
Two nights later we returned. Again, it was not till early evening that I had any action. But this night was better. I brought in a Sacramento Perch and three cutthroat trout, the biggest was about 24 inches long and weighed 6 pounds. They are beautiful, hard-fighting fish that have thrived in the desert for thousands of years.
Me fly-fishing Pyramid Lake near “Shot Dog” on the Tufa rocks
The first evening was nearly perfect. The second evening was cloudy, windy, and chilly…typical spring weather.
My first Lahontan cutthroat trout! It was about 18 inches long and hit a leech fly.
My forth Lahontan cutthroat. It was about 23 inches long and put up a great fight. My biggest one was 24 inches long and twice as thick. It weighed about 6 pounds.
Skiing at Northstar…
“Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada. Lying at 6,225 feet, it straddles the border between California and Nevada, west of Carson City. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America, and at 122,160,280 acre feet trails only the five Great Lakes as the largest by volume in the United States. Its depth is 1,645 feet, making it the second deepest in the United States after Crater Lake in Oregon (1,945 feet).”
“Snow and ski resorts are a significant part of the area's economy and reputation.” Twelve major ski resorts are in the Tahoe area. Our Epic passes from Park City were still good for Kirkwood, Heavenly, and Northstar.
We decided to go to Northstar since its proximity was closest to Reno. We selected a good weather day following another blanket of spring snow.
Northstar averages 350” of snow a year. This year they have had 709”!!! And they keep getting more. In January they had 286”, February 188”, March 79”, and April 46”. We had monitored this all winter and had to see it firsthand.
We took the Truckee route to Northstar so our first glimpse of the lake was from the top of Mount Pluto. It was the first time that both of us had ever seen Lake Tahoe.
It was a pretty bluebird day with only breezy winds at the top of lifts. We thoroughly enjoyed the empty, long cruiser runs. The snow softened up nicely under the intense spring sun and pleasant 50 degree temps. The resort is so well signed it was very easy to take a tour of runs off of Backside, Zephyr, Comstock, and Martis Camp Express lifts without having to refer to a run map continually.
We loved, loved Castle Peak and Burnout runs on the Backside. The consistently pitched blue and black runs are nearly a mile long and have great views. The Backside would be our favorite on a powder day if this was our home mountain.
Northstar ended up being our best day of the year as we racked up 22,500 vertical feet for the day.
Ski route route at Northstar Resort / The beginning of a great day
The Tahoe area received about 200% of their average snow! / Posing 2,000 feet above Lake Tahoe
Looking west from the very nice Zephyr Lodge
The view from the top of Mount Pluto, 8,610 feet. Lake Tahoe is in the upper left.
Arleen on the empty Challenger run on “The Backside”. We really liked the long consistent cruisers!
Me on an empty run off the Tahoe Zephyr lift. The runs face northeast and softened up nicely in the morning sun.
After the great day on the slopes, we drove down to Lake Tahoe. There are several towns around the lake and they all seem to run into one endless hodgepodge of homes, hotels, condos, restaurants, and stores. However, the intense scenery of the mountains 360 degrees around the lake makes it all feel remote.
We stopped in Tahoe City for an early dinner at Moe’s BBQ. Its authentic southern BBQ was exactly what we needed after a long physical day.
Finally, we took a walk on the city’s scenic path along the lake to the local park. There we saw corners of the area’s first jail, built in 1920, peeking out of several feet of snow and a 20 foot high snow marker from March 1952. We enjoyed the history and were able to fully appreciate the beauty of the deep blue lake up close.
We enjoyed the food & the view at Moe’s Original Bar B Que in Tahoe City / 20 feet of snow in March 1952
Glad this sign was here! Arleen thought about jumping into the 40 degree Lake Tahoe water!
Since we plan to build a house in a few years, we have been doing a lot of research on home products. For flooring, we thought Marazzi tile would be the answer to the durable, low maintenance yet attractive product we were looking for. Arleen was very excited to discover that they had a showroom in Sparks.
Upon entering the American Olean / Marazzi Sales Service Center, we were warmly greeted by Roger. After explaining that the showroom sells only to builders & designers, Roger still spent THREE hours with us.
He showed us the products Arleen had preselected and took time to find samples in the "back". He answered all our questions and listened to us, getting to know what style we prefer. Then he made some suggestions we had not thought of. He sent us away with samples and a satisfied feeling. We know exactly which products we will use for all our flooring, bathroom tiles, and back splash. Thank you, Roger!
About to enter the Marazzi show room / Pondering a few of the MANY options
Arleen has made her decisions!
Meeting new friends…
We have been “friends” with Adrian and Becky through the NROA (Northwood RV Owners Association) forum for six years. They live in the area and contacted us so we could finally meet in person.
We had a lovely time together discussing past travels. Though they do not travel these days as much as what they would like to, they enjoy following us through our travel blog. It was so nice to finally meet them in person and wish them happy travels.
Me, Arleen, Becky, and Adrian
We spent five days near Lassen Volcanic National Park CA and are currently near Crater Lake National Park OR. Then we will spend a month near La Pine OR and the rest of the summer playing in eastern Oregon and central Idaho.
If you park too close to Pyramid Lake, you’ll get stuck! This Toyota had to be towed out.
Wild horse adoption center near Reno NV