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Day trippin’ in the Carson Valley

© Kippy S. Spilker

One day in a place where a year isn’t enough

BY MEGG MUELLER

Winter vacations in northern Nevada often consist of 1) go to Lake Tahoe to ski, and 2) take in a show and toss some dice in Reno. That’s fun, but now what? Just south of Nevada’s capital, the Carson Valley has its arms wide open with possibilities for the day.

From an adrenaline rush to browsing history, shopping for antiques or eating at the area’s authentic Basque restaurant, there’s enough to fill an itinerary for every personality. Here’s just a slice of what the valley has to offer those looking for the perfect way to spend the day.


© Chris Moran/TravelNevada

Fuel up for the day—Grab a table at the Overland Restaurant & Pub when it opens at 11 a.m. for lunch. The Overland has been open since 1902, and while the restaurant has changed hands, the food is still worthy of the spectacular atmosphere. Bison burgers, tri-tip salads, and pulled pork sandwiches hit the spot on the daily menu, but don’t forget to ask about the specials because, well, they are.

For those looking to get started a bit earlier, head to Sharkey’s Casino for some breakfast fare at the Jackpot Café. 

Overland Restaurant & Pub
1451 U.S. Route 395 N.
Gardnerville, NV 89410
overlandrestaurant.com, 775-392-1369

Jackpot Café at Sharkey’s Casino
1440 U.S. Route 395 N.
Gardnerville, NV 89410
775-782-3133


© Chris Moran/TravelNevada

Hit the museum and cultural center—The Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center is a perfect first stop, as the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Carson Valley Visitor Authority’s offices are also housed in the old high school, which was built in 1915. The museum houses exhibits of the area’s earliest dwellers, including the Washoe Indians, Basque sheepherders, and even the wild mustangs of the valley. Head downstairs for a stroll down main-street Gardnerville as it was, back in the day. After you familiarize yourself with Carson Valley’s history, stop into the visitor’s authority for more info on what’s going on during your visit.

Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center
1477 U.S. Route 395 N.
Gardnerville, NV 89410
historicnv.org, 775-782-2555


Wander Minden’s historic district—Founded in 1906 by Heinrich Dangberg, much of Minden’s quaint homes and buildings are in phenomenal shape today. Dozens of homes and businesses line Esmeralda Street and Mono Avenue, just a block apart. Grab a parking spot and get out of the car so you can admire the architecture of the many buildings built in the early 1900s. Grab a drink at the first Farmer’s Bank, which was outgrown just nine years after it was built, became a post office, and is now a pub. The second Farmer’s Bank was built in 1918 by the Dangbergs and was designed by Frederic DeLongchamps. Today it houses the offices of the Bently Heritage Estate Distillery. Bently Heritage will soon open a tasting room for its spirits in the Minden Butter Manufacturing Company located on U.S. Route 395. Shop for antiques, or sit a spell at Minden Park and breathe in the small-town charm.


© JT Humphrey

Visit Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park—One of the valley’s most prominent and important early settlers, Heinrich Friedrich Dangberg not only founded the town of Minden, but he left behind a ranch where four generations of his family lived. To call the house and its contents a museum is an understatement; where period pieces often represent an era, Dangberg Ranch is an unsurpassed collection of family memorabilia that illuminates the area’s history in the most personal way possible. The ranch is located in the center of the valley with stunning views of the epic mountain ranges and peaks. Even in winter, this is the perfect spot for photos.

The ranch is open during daylight hours, seven days a week. However, tours are only given Wednesday-Saturday, unless prior arrangements are made. Viewing the buildings and the surrounding land is spectacular but do your best to get an inside look at the life of this amazing family.

Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park
1450 State Route 88
Minden, NV 89423
dangberghomeranch.org, 775-783-9417


© Chris Moran/TravelNevada

Take a hike in Genoa—Head north toward (arguably) the state’s oldest settlement—Genoa. This beautiful little town is nestled right into the mountains, where the western and eastern forks of the Carson River meet. The Nature Conservancy owns 805 acres of land known as River Fork Ranch, and it’s the perfect place to get out and stretch your legs while you learn about the area’s riparian corridor and abundant wildlife. Easy, flat hikes through the wetlands offer glimpses of bald eagles, sand cranes, leopard frogs, and deer, plus the restoration work done on the river is a work of art, literally. A project called The Nature of Art is working to benefit nature with living watershed sculptures.

River Fork Ranch
381 Genoa Lane
Minden, NV 89423
nature.org, 775-322-4990


© Chris Moran/TravelNevada

Wrap up the day with something special—It’s been a full day, and the sun is setting. It’s time to let the ambiance of The Pink House work its magic. Just down the road from River Fork Ranch, this historical landmark was built in 1855 and has been gorgeously restored by owner Lois Wray. She’s created an incredible cheese and charcuterie shop in the middle of one of Nevada’s smallest towns, but the experience is unmatched in any big city. Sandwiches; salads; flights of beer, wine, or whiskey; and other snacks coupled with a beautiful setting in winter or in summer, The Pink House is the perfect way to end the day.

The Pink House
193 Genoa Lane
Genoa, NV 89411
pinkhousegenoa.com, 775-392-4279


Take the higher route—The Carson Valley is an international destination for soaring. The winds that come off the surrounding mountain peaks make for some of the most impressive thermal action anywhere, and your opportunity to soar above the valley and take in a birds-eye view awaits. Soaring NV, located at the Minden-Tahoe Airport, offers glider rides for one or two passengers. You can do short rides, long rides, and even aerobatic rides. It’s your thrill level, after all. Seeing Lake Tahoe sitting high above the Carson Valley floor is unlike any view anywhere.

Soaring NV
1142 Airport Road
Minden, NV 89423
soaringnv.com, 775-782-9595


Get a room—If one day doesn’t sound like enough, stay the night at the Carson Valley Inn. Centrally located, with multiple accommodation options including an RV park, the CVI makes a great basecamp for Carson Valley adventures.

Carson Valley Inn
1627 U.S. Route 395 N.
Minden, NV 89423
carsonvalleyinn.com, 775-782-9711


ASK THE EXPERTS

This is just one possible itinerary; see visitcarsonvalley.org for more ideas based on your personality.

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