A Photographer’s Guide to Uncovering Reno Tahoe

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As I seemingly can’t stop bragging about the gorgeousness of where I call home, my PNW-based friend Victoria recently decided to visit me in Reno Tahoe. Upon arrival, Victoria and I set off on a 48-hour adventure of kayaking, eating, exploring and photographing our way through the region. She had never been before, which was perfect, as I was able to carve out her first impression to be precisely what my day-to-day life actually looks like. We stayed at my home in Truckee and went pretty much everywhere, from sipping saisons, to picnics on Tahoe boulders, to dodging bats in abandoned train tunnels.

Here’s how we did it:

Discover the Charm Behind the Biggest Little City in the World

If your mind conjures up images of tired neon lights and Burning Man public art, you’re not far off. But did you know that many major tech companies—most notably, Tesla—are moving to Reno? Nevadan tax benefits aside, Reno is currently experiencing a renaissance of culture and creativity and at the risk of overusing the phrase “up-and-coming,” it’s just that. For a photographer, it’s a fascinating time to document this transition stage. Contemporary breweries, coffee roasteries and a fresh crop of young creatives fit in surprisingly well with the many casinos. Mark my words, eventually, people will be talking about Reno like we do now about Portland and Austin.

Victoria and I worked our way through See See Motorcycles Coffee (the newest location from the Portland-based cafe), the brand new Renaissance Hotel (don’t miss The Shore Room, a sumptuous restaurant atop the Truckee River), The Basement (an “unexpected experience of senses”), Brasserie Saint James (for brunch/happy hour/dinner/beer/whatever), and Sierra Water Gardens (for perfect light and succulent heaven).

Truckee: Basecamp for a Big Life

Truckee’s slogan is apt, considering the Town funnels into six different world-class ski resorts, as well as access to pretty much every other kind of outdoor recreation you can think of. Victoria and I drove up to Donner Summit (yes, that Donner Summit) for an unbeatable sunrise one morning, then climbed over petroglyphs to get to abandoned train tunnels covered in graffiti and occupied by bats. With the PCT also meandering its way through, Donner Summit is one of the most historic and photogenic corners of California. Afterwards, we hopped into kayaks at Donner Lake for a quick paddle, then spent the afternoon exploring the darling shops downtown. Don’t miss Bespoke, a shop filled with so many exquisite treasures, you won’t be able to leave empty-handed, and Tahoe University, a historic bed and breakfast-turned lifestyle boutique.

The Largest Alpine Lake in North America

With a record-breaking winter, Lake Tahoe is pretty much at capacity these days, which of course just means more lake to enjoy. Victoria and I spent one glorious morning hiking the Flume Trail to Monkey Rock, which offers a spectacular view of Tahoe for a first-timer. Later, we picnicked on one of the iconic boulders at Sand Harbor State Park, then hiked along East Shore near Chimney Beach where the famous turquoise waters of the lake are most brilliant. For happy hour, don’t look farther than Lone Eagle Grille in Incline Village. Make sure to stick around for sunset, too.

Images by Victoria Wright.

xx Laura Lawson Visconti