Carson Valley Fun Facts

The Spanish and French Basques played an important role in Northern Nevada history as sheepherders and later as inn and restaurant owners. The Basque people made their way to the Silver State during the mining boom of the1800’s. Shortly it was discovered they were better off providing meat and wool to the miners, plus Nevada’s open spaces were perfect for their sheep herds. They often stayed in boarding-houses and the group dining rooms of these ‘homes away from home’ marked the beginning of Basque family style dining. Basque dining in Gardnerville remains a culinary attraction, so be sure to take the opportunity to experience the culture of Basque dining and the staple cocktail of choice, a Picon Punch!

Dangberg Home Ranch began in 1857 when German immigrant Heinrich Friedrich Dangberg started a new life in Nevada. He and his wife Maggie raised five children. Dangberg prospered, and his success as a rancher, businessman and politician established the Dangbergs as one of the most influential families in Carson Valley history. In 1906, the family founded the town of Minden, named after Minden, Germany which is near the birthplace of H.F. Dangberg. This historic stop won the Nevada Commission on Tourism award for Best Reno-Tahoe Territory Attraction.

David Walley’s Hot Springs Resort & Spa in the town of Genoa, Nevada is surrounded with a 360˚ view of the majestic Sierra Mountain range. Founded in 1862 with only a tent for shelter and mineral baths selling for 50 cents, 1862 David Walley’s Hot Springs Resort & Spa now offers you a rare opportunity to indulge yourself in mineral rich hot springs that Mother Nature herself thrives in. These hot springs have been known around the world for their healing powers for 150 years.

The Ferris Wheel, invented by George Ferris and unveiled at the 1893 Chicago World’s fair, was inspired by a water wheel at Cradlebaugh Bridge on the Carson River. During the time he lived in Carson Valley, young George Ferris spent hours watching the motion of the big water wheel, imaginably dreaming of riding around on one of its buckets. Perhaps from those early dreams came his inspiration for the Ferris Wheel. Now days you have the opportunity to join Great Basin Sports, April-July for guided tours of the East Fork Carson River and explore the same waters G. Ferris himself once enjoyed.

Fly sailplanes and gliders in one of the world’s premier locations– the Carson Valley. The thermals created by the surrounding mountains and prevailing weather patterns create spectacular flight conditions, and pilots from all over the world travel here to enjoy them. Whether you are an experienced pilot bringing your own aircraft, a pilot who wishes to improve your skill and rating or someone who simply wants to experience the thrill of soaring, Carson Valley is your place.

Gardnerville’s cultural heritage abounds down Main Street Gardnerville. Shopping in Gardnerville is more than just shopping; it is a historical experience. Step back in time to another era and take a stroll down Main Street where friendly service is just the way Carson Valley does business. Stop in and shop at the many quaint antique shops and boutiques, enjoy a glass or two of wine and a great meal at one of Gardnerville’s exceptional restaurants!

Genoa, considered the oldest permanent settlement in Nevada, is full of history and is also thought to be one of the most haunted. Join Genoa Historic Ghost Tours and learn about the town’s original Mormon settlers, the riders of the Pony Express, Nevada’s oldest thirst parlor and visit the Dake Hawkins House, considered one of the most haunted places in Northern Nevada. John ‘Snowshoe’ Thompson carried mail and supplies on skis for twenty winters between Genoa and Placerville (90 miles) taking two days to travel west and three days to return over the Sierra. He now rests in the Genoa, Nevada cemetery next to his wife Agnes and son Arthur. His grave is marked with a pair of crossed skis. Today, the quaint town is a tourist must with historic buildings, friendly accommodations, antique shops and boutiques, family friendly festivals and events, and a replica of the town’s first structure at Mormon Station State Historic Park.

Hiking, biking, or horseback riding on the Carson Valley scenic trail system is unsurpassed. With over 30 miles of completed trails and current and proposed projects underway, there are a variety of trails for any experience level. The picturesque Pine Nut Mountains to the east of Minden are rugged and offer exceptional opportunities for recreation and adventure. Families can enjoy riding in the sagebrush on their OHV/ATV’s, and you might come across horseback riders, hikers, or rock collectors—and possibly mountain bikers tackling the challenging terrain.

Minden’s downtown historic district hosts popular arts and crafts fairs and other community events several times a year. Carson Valley Days in June is a big event in Minden and elsewhere in the valley, complete with a parade and marching bands. Music concerts held in Minden Park on summer evenings offer residents and visitors the perfect setting to enjoy live performances by popular musicians and bands while picnicking and socializing. During the holiday season, the Christmas tree lighting at the park attracts locals and visitors alike. The celebration of the country’s birthday every Fourth of July is another popular event in this community and at Minden Park. Visitors and residents can learn about the local history and early culture of the area with a trip to the Douglas County Historical Societies Museum and Cultural Center located in the old Douglas County High School building. Be sure to explore the former railroad town and its rich agricultural and rural heritage with your Discover Minden Walking Tour Map.

Skiing and other snow activities are just a short 20 miles from Carson Valley, Nevada. This is one of the few areas in the world where you can enjoy a 1/2 day of skiing, then head down to the base of the Sierra Nevada into the Carson Valley to put in a round of golf at one of the areas 4 year-round golf courses, or explore one of the valley’s scenic hiking trails on foot, bike or horseback.

Topaz Lake Park offers 90 acres on the shores of Topaz Lake, a reservoir on the Nevada-California border only 20 miles south of Gardnerville. If tubing, water skiing and pleasure boating is your thing, set off with a group of friends for Topaz Lake. This location is ideal for anglers, hikers, water sports enthusiasts and is a well-kept secret among bird watchers. Aluminum motorized fishing boats for up to 4 people are available for rent from Topaz Landing boat rentals. Lake Topaz also offers lodging, camping and RV accommodations, a playground, as well as 24-hour dining, gaming and a full-service general store! Topaz Lake sunsets are incredible too!

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