Tour Locations | Downtown Reno: From the Reno Arch to the Truckee River
The River and The City
Great, keep walking on this pathway for a while.
This path is the River Walk and to your left is the entire reason Reno exists: The Truckee River.
For thousands of years the Paiute, Western Shoshone and Washo tribes lived and travelled along this water-way. When white settlers and emigrants reached this area in the mid 1800s, they named the river Truckee after the Paiute Chief who had helped them find safe passage through the desert.
The City’s relationship to this river is long and complicated.
Reno sits in the Great Basin, which is a fairly unique geography. While in much of the world, creeks and rivers eventually flow to the ocean, in the Great Basin they do not. Instead, they flow inland to either slowly dry out in a sink, or they flow into a terminal lake.
The Truckee River is the only outlet from Lake Tahoe in the Sierra, and it flows 121 miles through the mountains, canyons and meadows through downtown Reno, and eventually to its desert terminus at Pyramid Lake. Pyramid Lake is about 30 miles Northeast of here, as the crow flies and Lake Tahoe is about 22 miles to the South West of here as the crow flies.
For most of the mid 20th century, the river in downtown Reno wasn’t really a place to hang out. The river had been straightened to mitigate flooding, and it didn’t have the flowing parks and walkways that it has today. Those where built in mostly the 90s and 2000s, which made the Riverwalk district one of Reno’s most scenic corridors. You’ll notice that it now houses restaurants and bars and a movie theater and outdoor concert venues.
In a minute, you should enter a round Plaza. Head towards the wooden footbridge that goes over the river.