It’s beginning to look (at least a little) like Christmas as we get the 2nd snow of the season in the Reno/Sparks area as I write this. This is the time of year where families are starting to schedule their holiday family photos, which begs the question: Where are the best scenic locations for a photo session in our beloved city? Rest easy and keep reading.
1. Caughlin Crossing in Caughlin Ranch Neighborhood
There is the lower portion of Caughlin Parkway across McCarran from Plumb and then there is an upper one across from Cashill Blvd. Though an explorer could find multiple great points for photos in the neighborhood, I recommend the lower Caughlin Pkwy just inside the entrance to Caughlin Ranch. You can park along the main road and you will find multiple scenic backdrops. Bridges, water, rustic fences and more. This area is maintained with impeccable attention to detail year-round.
2. Crystal Peak Park / Bridge Street in Verdi, Nevada
This area has the sweeping views complete with wide open fields, mountains and the Truckee River. Whether you choose to park at Crystal Peak Park to pick a spot or head over to Bridge Street just past Dog Valley Road, this location works just as well for a more formal clothes style theme as it does for jeans and cowboy boots.
3. BELIEVE Sculpture
Situated in Reno City Plaza near 1st Street (between Virginia Street and Center Street), this Burning Man art piece is a unique option for Reno area family holiday photos.
4. Wilbur D. May Arboretum in Rancho San Rafael Park
Every time of year has a different look in this park and they are all beautiful in their own way. You can’t go wrong.
5. The Hytch at Sierra Water Gardens
This location requires investment, but for good reason. Take a look at their social media and you get an idea of just how beautiful this special event venue is. At the rate of $150 for one hour, you can make a reservation to bring your own photographer to use the venue for your photo shoot.
6. Bridges over Truckee River near Mayberry Park and Downtown Reno Riverwalk
As mentioned in last month’s Tips from a Local post, Mayberry Park is a great place for a nice, leisurely walk. Only a few minutes into heading left from the Mayberry Park parking lot, walking to the left along the Truckee River, you reach an adorable bridge over the river that also has a little waterfall most times of year. There is another bridge about a mile later on the trail.
Similarly, Downtown Reno has walking bridges over the river that would also make great family photo ops.
7. The New Reno Arch
As you may have noticed in the BELIEVE sculpture photo, you can see the Reno Arch in the background. It is also a fun option to consider using a more close up view of this iconic sign as a backdrop.
8. Home Sign
Located in front of Greater Nevada Field, this is a great way to show “Home Means Nevada” in your holiday card-whether you’ve called it “home” for 2 months or 2 decades.
9. “WITH LOVE FROM RENO” Mural
The mural is located on the side of vintage boutique The Nest off 201 Keystone Avenue.
10. Truckee Meadows Community College (and the surrounding fields)
TMCC is situated overlooking the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the perfect place for a great Reno skyline backdrop, especially at sunset.
11. University Ridge Park
Not far from UNR, this park provides a pretty and easily accessible overlook.
12. “GREETINGS FROM RENO” Mural
The charming mural is located at the Summit Mall in South Reno between Lenscrafters and Fidelity Investments.
13. Geiger Lookout Wayside Park
This lookout features near panoramic views of the valley floor and is located near the Virginia Highlands. To get there, head south on Alt Highway 395. To get to Geiger Lookout point, take Highway 341 toward Virginia City. The road winds through spectacular mountain ranges and a rocky landscape. At the 4.6-mile point, there’s a turnout where you can see stunning views of both the Sierras and of Reno.
14. Bartley Ranch
This large and spacious park includes a historic school house and brick house along with horse pastures that give you multiple choices for great holiday photos.
15. Somersett Entrance
As Sharlands Ave turns into Somersett Pkwy, you enter into the Somersett neighborhood. At the base of the neighborhood, there is an Orthodontic Office and Daycare that would make a great place to park on a weekend when the businesses are closed. Walk up the Somersett Pkwy hill and you will find a grassy area on the left side of the streets with a beautiful mountain backdrop.
16. Peavine Mountain Overlook
For the adventurous sort, this 13-mile loop has an overlook that pays off. To get to the Peavine Mountain trailhead, take McCarran Blvd. west from N. Virginia St. about a mile. Look for the parking area on the north side of McCarran Blvd. Two new trailheads provide access from N. McCarran at Keystone Canyon by turning north on Leadership Pkwy. Follow the signs and you’re there!
17. Oxbow Nature Study
Located one mile from Downtown Reno, this 22 acre area runs along the Truckee River and features a pond, cottonwoods, willows, and grasslands.
18. Rock Point Mill in Dayton State Park
Located at the end of a short trail within Dayton State Park, these are ruins of a large mill built in 1861; and in my opinion, they are Nevada’s quintessential version of natural shabby chic. Definitely a great option for those seeking an out of the box backdrop rather than the traditional one.
19. Phillip and Annie Callahan Park
Situated in South Reno’s beautiful Galena area, this park features an old schoolhouse and scenic trails. It definitely makes you feel like you are further out of town than you are. With 25 acres of beautiful pines, you can’t lose.
20. Bonsai Rock, Lake Tahoe
This may be an aspirational idea to stick in your back pocket for the future. If you get a head start in warmer months, this would be an awesome spot for family photos, friend photos, senior photos, engagement photos, whatever. Multiple, equally fantastic vantage points with a magazine quality look.
Just off Route 28 on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe just south of Sand Harbor is a little rocky cove with the famous Bonsai Rock. It is a 5-minute hike down after you park on the side of the road. Ideally, everyone with you would have a pair of sneakers to walk down with. The photo possibilities are many solely due to the majestic locale, but there could definitely be fun and quirky twists put on the shoot like having everyone on Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs) or even having all family members in their own fun floaties (giant flamingos or unicorns anyone?!).
The Reno area is so picturesque, you could really take family photos just about anywhere. Depending on your personality, you can go after the backdrop that suits you. For those just wanting to check out scenic locales in our fine city, this list is just as relevant. Do you have any favorite places to take photos in the Reno area? Comment below and share them. Are you new to Reno or looking to relocate to Reno?
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Lexi King is a wife and a mom of 2 teens and a new Marine. She has been Executive Assistant to a Reno area CEO for almost a decade and is the writer/creator of the lifestyle blog, Rhythm&Rubbish: One wise-ish mom to another: Finding joy in the tension between the daily routines we embrace (the rhythms) and the unexpected nonsense we endure (the rubbish). Her dream is to travel, to share stories, to write, and to make a living doing all 3.