Reno, the "Biggest Little City in the World" is located in the beautiful northwest region of the state of Nevada, right at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. It is the second largest tourist destination in Nevada, featuring resorts, gaming, family entertainment, outdoor activities, festivals, museums, fantastic cuisine, shows for everyone, art and culture.
Reno is at the western edge of the Great Basin, a zone stretching to Salt Lake City that does not drain to the sea - water is carried away by evaporation only. Average precipitation is approximately 180 mm a year, with much of that occurring in the winter in the form of snow. July is the warmest month, with an average high of 33 °C, and January is the coldest month, with an average low of -7 °C.
|Avg Max||7.3 °C||10.9 °C||13.5 °C||17.6 °C||22.7 °C||28.4 °C||33.3 °C||32 °C||26.4 °C||20.3 °C||12.1 °C||7.5 °C|
|Avg Min||-6.3 °C||-4.3 °C||-1.6 °C||0.7 °C||4.5 °C||8.3 °C||10.7 °C||9.8 °C||5.2 °C||0.5 °C||-2.9 °C||-6.7 °C|
|Rainfall||27.2 mm||25.1 mm||18 mm||9.7 mm||17.5 mm||11.7 mm||7.1 mm||8.1 mm||9.9 mm||9.7 mm||22.1 mm||25.1 mm|
The California Zephyr, operated by Amtrak, travels between Chicago and Emeryville (San Francisco), stopping en route in Reno.
As both Reno and the Sierra Nevada are popular weekend destinations for Northern Californians, traffic can be bad coming to Reno on Friday evening, and leaving Reno on Sunday evening, especially in the ski season.
The most direct route to Reno from Sacramento is via Interstate 80 over Donner Summit (2206 metres). This route sees a great deal of snowfall during the winter, and will shut down for periods of up to a day several times during a typical winter. Northern California residents also use U.S. 395 in Susanville, this highway stays at a lower elevation and has less problems of traffic and weather. Residents living in the Redding and Chico areas of California find this route safer and quicker. If you plan on crossing this or any other pass in the Sierra Nevada in the winter, keep an eye on the weather forecast, and always carry tire chains if you do not have four-wheel drive.
An alternative route is US 50 over Echo Summit. This route follows the American River up from the Sacramento Valley, and then drops into the Lake Tahoe Basin. From there you can continue on US 50 into Carson City, and from there head north to Reno on US 395, or continue around the lake to Incline Village and drop into Reno on the Mount Rose Highway. This route is two lanes only for much of the way, and traffic can be heavy both in the winter and the summer, and winter maintenance is not as good as on Interstate 80.
Passes across the Sierra south of US 50, aside from CA 88, are not maintained in the winter (from approximately November until May.) And when they are open they are out of the way and potentially dangerous.
From Las Vegas
Don't be fooled by the fact that Las Vegas and Reno are in the same state - there are about 8 hours of driving time separating them. Take US 95 north to Fallon, US 50 west to Fernley, and Interstate 80 west to Reno. If you're not a fan of desert landscapes, boredom is a serious risk on this trip. Winter weather will generally not be a large problem on this trip, but don't count on being able to find food or fuel outside the major towns (Beatty, Tonopah, Hawthorne, Fallon, and Fernley)
During the summer the heat along US 95 can be hard on you and on your vehicle. A much more comfortable alternative to cooking in your car is to drive during the night. Many of the dark stretches between the small towns along US 95 reveal numerous shooting stars and other astral phenomena that you might miss during the baking sun. Keep in mind that driving at night can be dangerous due to the visibility limitations from the hills and the mountains. Be sure to have a lot of rest before undertaking this trip.
From the east
The most traveled route to Reno from the east is Interstate 80. Interstate 80 follows the old Emigrant trail along the Humboldt river for most of the way across Nevada, and thus the grades are generally easy. However, it does this at the expense of swinging well north of the direct route to Reno. US 50 ("The Loneliest Highway in America") is more direct, but it crosses several large mountain ranges and thus has some tight curves, steep grades and a few switchbacks. Don't count on finding food or fuel along US 50 outside of the major towns (Ely, Eureka, Austin, Fallon and Fernley).
The major long distances buses (Greyhound & Megabus) travel along I-80 between San Francisco and Salt Lake City. There are other county operate buses that offer limited services along the US Hwy 395 corridor to Alturas to the north and to Bishop, CA to the south.
Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.
For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.
Reno's transit system, called RTC RIDE, is operated by the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County. The busiest route, the #1 bus, was recently replaced with two new services, RTC RAPID, a priority express bus making limited stops, and RTC CONNECT, the local. RAPID runs 15 minutes or better headways most of the day through Downtown Reno (a good place to start is the RTC 4th Street Station at 4th and Lake which opened Oct 31st 2010) and down South Virginia Street (the major north-south street) to Meadowood Mall. RTC RAPID should serve any tourist well for most shopping, dining, and gambling needs.
Other routes to know about are the #11, which runs between downtown Reno and downtown Sparks, and the Sierra Spirit circulator bus (7AM – 7PM), which connects various downtown destinations along the Virginia Street corridor down to the Truckee River to the south and the University of Nevada, Reno, to the north. In downtown Reno, all buses stop at or near the RTC 4th Street Station at 4th and Lake St, where you can also find The Bus Book.
Fares may be paid on the bus by cash (exact change) or by pass. All RTC RIDE passes are available from the Pass Vending Machines (as of March 28, 2011 all day passes are $4 at the Station, if you buy them on the bus they are $5. One trip fare is $2, but asking for a transfer allows travel on any bus in any direction for 1 1/2 hrs from the time of purchase. All major casinos have a bus stop for easy access.), available at RTC 4th Street Station and Meadowood Mall, and may be purchased with cash, coin, debit or credit cards (cash only if purchased on the bus).
|Wildflower Village||4275 - 4395 W Fourth||Hostel||78|
There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.
See also International Telephone Calls
The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.
The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.
We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Reno searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Reno and areas nearby.
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