Sparks Marina Park

Sandy beaches, shade trees and walking trails surround this picturesque lake near downtown Reno.

This former gravel pit has grown from humble beginnings into a favorite summer destination in the Reno-Sparks area. Just as plans were being formulated to turn the 100-foot (30-meter) deep pit into a recreational lake, the Great Truckee River Flood of 1997 hit, filling the pit overnight. An underground spring feeds the 77-acre (31-hectare) lake, ensuring the water is always clear.

Sparks Marina Park is a favorite summer spot for locals as well as tourists. There are two patrolled beaches, one of which is a designated swimming zone, making it extremely safe. There are two beach volleyball courts that are free to play on. Nearby, there’s also a large playground suitable for all ages. In summer, a concession stand serves refreshments and light snacks — or bring your own picnic. 

Take a relaxing paddle across the lake in a kayak or canoe while enjoying the stunning mountain backdrop. Only non-motorized water craft or those with electric motors are allowed on the lake and life jackets must be worn at all times. If you want to check out the marine life,scuba diving is permitted in the lake, but divers must not dive alone and must check in with rangers before and after their dive.  

Explore the lush grounds surrounding the lake by foot or bike along the near two-mile (three-kilometer) trail. The pier at the south end of the lake is a popular fishing spot, but before you throw in a line to fish, make sure you pick up a license at one of the nearby stores.  

Sparks Marina Park is open year-round and, not surprisingly, is often crowded on hot summer days. The Marina is accessible by bus from downtown Reno. Free parking is available nearby and wheelchair access is good. The concession stand runs only through summer so bring refreshments if you plan to visit in the cooler months. Sparks Marina Park is located in Sparks, which is about a 10-minute drive east of Reno.

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