A Frequent Visitor’s Guide to Carson Valley

fall colors

Top 6 travel must do’s by Angela DiLoreto

It’s a question I’ve been asked by friends numerous times. How do you spend so much time in Carson Valley? Those who know me well in Vegas are shocked I travel across Nevada to visit the valley several times a year.
And, not just this year, every year for almost a decade and I’m still finding new gems.

Let’s start with my home away from home, Carson Valley itself. Nestled at the foot of the Sierras you’re met with gorgeous blue skies and crisp mountain air as you descend into the valley via historic Highway 395. Heavenly Mountain and Jobs Peak offer a combined backdrop to your initial view and while the mountain may garner the name, I am here to tell you the valley embraces the adjective. It is heavenly!

Kingsbury tree

This tree on Kingsbury Grade clings to the rocks

Living in the ‘City of Lights’, I’m accustomed to the hustle of a large 24-hour city, but my small town roots need an escape from time to time. Carson Valley offers memorable moments to enjoy the mountain air while fully recharging. From the town of Genoa, seemingly frozen in time, to the intimate local entertainment venues found in Minden or Gardnerville, you’re sure to find a way to reignite your passion.

River Fork Ranch

River Fork Ranch Trail along the east fork of Carson River

Over these many years I’ve experienced a lot, but certainly, not all the valley has to offer. Steeped in history of the old west and stunning views, Carson Valley has long been known as a getaway for Hollywood stars dating back to the days of Clark Gable. As you slide up to the bar where Mark Twain used to order you will absolutely understand why.

Here are a few of my favorite Carson Valley activities to get you started:
1. You have to watch the sunrise from Kingsbury Grade. While you’re there keep an eye out for my favorite tree. It’s been successfully clinging to the same cliff since I started visiting.

2. Grab breakfast at Topaz Lodge and watch the sunrise over Topaz Lake with prime seating.

3. Take a morning run alongside the geothermals in Genoa.

4. Head out for a hike on one of the many trails in Carson Valley.

5. Take a tour to see the wild mustangs out on the Pinenut Range. You may get lucky enough to see one of the bald eagles in the area too.

Topaz Lodge lake view

Topaz Lodge lake view

6. Head over to the airport to soar in a glider above the valley. Carson Valley boasts one of the top three best locations in the world for soaring. After traveling the world and always finding unique activities I have to say this tops my list! You will be towed up by another plane and once in the air, the rope is released for you to soar in a glider (pilot included) just like a bird among the clouds. Take a look at the photo and you will see Lake Tahoe over the mountain. Some of the longest flights without an engine have been recorded in this realm.


Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe from a glider

If you’re worried your foodie side won’t be satisfied in these small towns, worry no more! Visit Carson Valley has put together a few blogs about the amazing cuisine. My personal must-haves for each trip are the Minden Meat and Deli Tri-tip Salad, CV Steak’s ahi tuna, and of course J.T. Basque’s signature cocktail the Picon Punch.

Minden Meat and Deli

Minden Meat and Deli tri-tip salad

Carson Valley equally serves as my northern Nevada basecamp allowing me to explore Lake Tahoe (20-minute drive), Virginia City (1-hour drive), Carson City (10-minute drive), Reno (one hour drive) and Truckee, CA (one hour drive). I’ve traveled into the valley from every direction and can say each route has its own form of pure beauty.


Thanks for the tips Angela! Now, your next step is to head over to the Visit Carson Valley lodging page to find the best accommodations for you. Check out the sample itinerary page to see more of what the valley has to offer and begin planning your own favorite memory! You too will love it and want to come back again and again!