Spring is splendid in the Carson Valley!
Okay, it’s not technically spring yet, but it sure feels like it! The warm sun, clear blue skies and dry roads in the Carson Valley lend themselves to an abundance of outdoor activities. Lampe Park and the Carson Valley Skate Board Park are major local attractions this time of year, bringing visitors from all over the region. When living in Truckee with small children, we used to drive down the mountain to Reno or Gardnerville just to let our kids run around on that green stuff called “grass,” feed the geese and play at the Lampe Park Playground, and even once to take a ride in a hot air balloon! It was often the only chance my kids got to wear some of those cute spring “outfits” sent by relatives who didn’t understand the Truckee climate.
If you have not visited Gardnerville recently, you will immediately notice the prominent Douglas County Community and Senior Center, erected recently with a generous land donation from the Herbig Family. It is a quite attractive building designed to accentuate the Valley’s agricultural heritage by mimicking grain silos and barns. Douglas County seniors have been clamoring for a new facility to replace their old mobile home for years, and most would agree that this place is a huge improvement. The 83 thousand square foot facility includes a gym, racquetball, volleyball and basketball courts, arcade, adult and child daycare, and room for all the recreation department classes.
One of the great things about the Carson Valley is its proximity to the mountains and Lake Tahoe. In just 25 minutes (18 miles) from Gardnerville, you can be snowshoeing or cross-country skiing at Hope Valley, a gorgeous spot along the Carson River near Pickett’s Junction (where Hwy 88 meets 89, heading up Luther Pass to Tahoe). If you need equipment, you can rent it from the yurt visible from the highway. From there, you can either head up the Burnside Lake Road (subject of a Dateline show on a couple who got their truck stuck in the winter resulting in the husband freezing to death), or opt for a less congested route. We recommend Willow Creek, about a tenth of a mile north of Pickett’s Junction on Hwy 89. Just park at the turnout and head past the gate, winding your way through aspens and pines along the creek for a magical winter/spring experience. A sheer delight to the senses! You may even see or hear a beaver, as we did.
After your snowshoe adventure, please, please, please stop for a slice of heavenly berry pie at the Hope Valley Café! Erik gets the shakes every time we drive by this place… They also have great coffee, food, beer on tap, wonderful baked goods, and did I mention, beer on tap? They also sell art, camping/outdoor supplies, and even have a used clothing section! The environment is very cozy, with couches by the woodstove and a nice bar always filled with interesting conversation. We have met people there from all over the world, including writers, ski bums, techies, nature buffs and outdoor enthusiasts. Tip: this place doesn’t take credit cards, and the ATM doesn’t always work, so have some cash!
— Amy Meeks