Rancho San Rafael Park
Once a working cattle ranch, San Rancho Rafael Park is now Reno’s premier open space. Graced with 600 acres (240 hectares) of pasture and sage, manicured fields, wetlands, walking and biking trails, this is the perfect escape from the bright lights of Reno. There’s also a refined side: a museum, arboretum and botanical gardens.
As you enter the park, look for the original ranch manager's house, now the Rangers' house and visitor center. If you’ve packed a picnic, there are plenty of tables and grassy nooks to spread out and enjoy a relaxing lunch. Younger kids will delight in the playgrounds, and there’s an expansive off-leash area for those traveling with dogs.
The Wilbur D. May Center offers a look into the area's rich history and flora. The center’s museum houses an eclectic collection of artifacts from Nevada and around the world. The neighboring Arboretum and Botanical Garden provides insights into the way local plant species survive the region's harsh climate.
For those feeling a bit more active, there are plenty of options. The arboretum holds wetland trekking tours that lead you through a hands-on journey in the Great Basin Adventure. There are a number of loops and one-way trails throughout the park to suit all fitness levels. The northern nature trails on the Peavine Peak side of the park offer some great scenery. Don’t forget to pick up a park map on your way in and chart your course.
Rancho San Rafael Park is in full bloom during the summer months, and it’s also stunning after a snowfall. The park is home to one of Reno’s biggest events, the Great Reno Balloon Race, in September.
Admission is free and parking is available at the north and south entrances. The park is located in Truckee Meadows, less than a mile (1.6 kilometers) northwest of downtown Reno.