You must be signed in to save park lists.
Your Park Lists
add New List
Add Photo
You must be signed in to add photos.
state route ranger badge

Nevada State Parks

responsive menu icon
USA Parks
Reno-Tahoe Region
Washoe Lake State Park
start slideshow
Washoe Lake State Park Wahoe Lake - Dry © Trix
December 2012 A walk on the dry lake may turn up bottle shard art installations.
Washoe Lake State Park Washoe Lake © Trix
February 2015 The happiness one experiences when jumping from one miniature dune to the next is immeasurable...
Washoe Lake State Park Washoe Lake North Boat Ramp © Trix
August 2013 Although the lake is too low to launch a boat, it remains a stunning place for sunset walks.
Washoe Lake State Park Washoe Lake - Dry © Trix
August 2015 Whats this A drainage pipe Foxtails in full glory
Washoe Lake State Park Washoe Lake © Trix
April 2018 A dog walker pauses to take in a rainbow.
Washoe Lake State Park © Gary OToole
Availability Search
4855 Eastlake Boulevard
New Washoe City, Nevada   89704
(lat:39.242 lon:-119.7639) map location

Phone: 775-687-4319
Email: park email button icon
Washoe Lake and Little Washoe Lakes are located in the heart of scenic Washoe Valley, between Carson City and Reno. Here, visitors will find spectacular views of the majestic Sierra Nevada and the Carson Range. Popular activities in the park include nature study, bird watching, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, windsurfing, water skiing, catamaran sailing, jet skiing and fishing. A campground, boat launches, group use area, day-use picnic sites and equestrian trailhead are available. A wetlands area with a viewing tower and interpretive displays is a new addition to the park. The park is located 10 miles north of Carson City and 15 miles south of Reno. Take U.S. 395 north to the East Lake Boulevard exit, than drive north on East Lake Boulevard approximately 3.1 miles to the park entrance. From Reno, take 395 south to the East Lake Boulevard intersection, turn left, and drive south on East Lake Boulevard for 7.1 miles to the park entrance.
Nature of the Area
Washoe Lake sits at an elevation of 5,029 feet just below the tree line in open sagebrush country. Being higher than Reno or Carson City, temperatures are typically five to ten degrees below those reported for the cities. Highs in the summer range from 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit to with lows between 40 & 50 degrees. Winters bring freezing temperatures at night with day time highs in the 30's to low 40's. Snow is possible but roads and facilities are plowed as needed.
History of the Area
For thousands of years, Washoe Valley and Washoe Lake have provided a home and livelihood to a variety of human cultures in this otherwise hostile land. The name Washoe comes from the original inhabitants, the Washoe Indians, originally spelled Washo. The tribe spent the winters as family groups in the lowlands of the valley, and summers at the "Big Lake," Lake Tahoe. They used the willows and cattails from the wetlands of Washoe Lake to make their elaborate baskets.

In 1859, the discovery of silver in the nearby Comstock Lode of Virginia City to the east brought thousands of miners, loggers, and traders to the Valley. In the same year, Mormon settlers established a permanent settlement near Franktown, west of Washoe Lake. The Ophir Mill (which can be seen from Hwy. 395) was built on Washoe Lake's west shore and was reached by an elevated causeway across the then Washoe Marsh. Ruins of the New York Mill can still be found by Little Washoe Lake. Both processed ore from the Comstock. Washoe Valley saw other supply towns such as Washoe City, Ophir, and Lakeview spring up in response to the mining activity.

In 1872, the Virginia and Truckee Railroad began service through Washoe Valley, connecting Reno to Carson City. The V&T ran continuously until 1950. By the late 1870's the mining boom was over and the towns around Washoe Lake were all but abandoned. Those who remained behind turned to ranching and farming, gradually displacing the Washo Indians from the Valley.

Washoe Lake State Park was established in 1977 to preserve a portion of scenic Washoe Valley for future generations to enjoy, with land and water-based recreation for all. In the wake of the rapidly expanding urbanization of nearby Carson City and Reno, the park is a true treasure to be cherished and protected.
Camping is permitted only at the Main Area Campground. 49 sites, each with a table, grill, and fire ring, are open year round and available on a first come first serve basis. Some sites are equipped with shade structures. Two comfort stations with showers are available. Several sites can hold RV's up to 45 feet in length. Sorry, no hookups. A dump station is available. Camping limit is 7 days in a 30-day period.
1. Washoe Lake State Park offers two designated swimming areas.
2. The North Boat Ramp area is popular for its sandy beach and shallow waters, ideal for families with kids.
3. Little Washoe Lake also has a swim-friendly shoreline but tends to be less crowded than the main lake.
4. No lifeguards are on duty at either location so swimmers should exercise caution when entering deeper water sections.
5. Swimming after dark or during inclement weather conditions isn't recommended due to safety concerns in these natural bodies of water.
6. The park's high desert climate makes summer swims particularly refreshing as temperatures can reach into the 90s Fahrenheit (30+ Celsius).
7. Water shoes may enhance comfort while swimming because some parts have rocky bottoms instead of sand.

Boat Launching Ramps and Docks can be found in the Main Day Use Area and at North Ramp. Boat trailer parking sites are provided. No direct boating access is available at Little Washoe and use by motorized craft is not recommended.
Anglers can enjoy fishing in two lakes, Washoe and Little Washoe. The main species include channel catfish and white bass. Other fish like Sacramento perch, bullhead catfish are also available for catch-and-release activities. Fishing is permitted year-round with a valid Nevada license.

Washoe Lake State Park offers picnic areas with grills, tables and restrooms. Some sites offer stunning lake or mountain views.
Cycling enthusiasts can explore miles of multi-use trails. Be aware, these paths are shared with horseback riders and hikers.

The park's terrain varies significantly; prepare for both flat areas and steep inclines. Always stay alert to avoid accidents.

North Valley's Loop Trail is a popular choice among bikers but requires moderate skill due to its challenging nature.

Remember that the weather conditions in Nevada can be extreme - always bring water, sunscreen, hats or helmets when biking here.

Biking at night isn't recommended as there aren't any lights on the trails which could lead to potential hazards.

Always follow trail etiquette: yield right-of-way where necessary and respect wildlife by keeping your distance.
Trails are available throughout the park, for motorized and non-motorized uses. Non-motorized trails accommodate hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrian riders. Motorized trails are limited to the Virginia Range east of the park. Maps are available at the park office and information kiosks throughout the park.

Equestrian Areas are found at the Main Area and North Ramp. The Main Area facility includes restrooms and a covered barbeque area with tables, grill, sink, counter space, power, water and lighting. Camping is permitted for both tents and RV's with large parking areas for easy horse trailer access. Area can be reserved for groups up to 200. The North Ramp facility is day use only and provides parking, water, and picnic tables.
The park offers birdwatchers a variety of species, including waterfowl and shorebirds. Raptors are also commonly sighted.

Birding enthusiasts can explore the wetlands area for diverse avian life throughout different seasons.

There's an annual event called "Migration Madness Bird Walk" where visitors learn about migratory birds in springtime.

Visitors may spot American White Pelicans, Great Blue Herons or Snowy Egrets among others during their visit.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
write a review
Share On

Area Campgrounds
Comstock Country RV Resort
5400 South Carson Street
Carson City, NV
Nearby Hotels

state route ranger badge

Nevada State Parks