Carson Valley is tucked into the crux of Nevada’s elbow, right where the state line doglegs away from Lake Tahoe and runs a southerly course along the east face of the Sierra. It’s green here, uncommonly so for this high, arid state. To the east lies the vastness of the Great Basin. To the west, the valley comes to a slow halt and the mountains abruptly take charge. To skiers and hikers and mountain bikers, this is paradise found. A cup of coffee further down the road (including time allocated for the stunning views along the way) and another gem appears: Lake Tahoe. But here in the Carson Valley, the collective pantry of pine trees and boulders, stretches of sage, carpets of meadow and serpentine creeks defines a place that’s remained content with the raw beauty it was born with.
In 1851, this setting became the state’s first gathering place as a trading post for ranchers, miners, settlers and restless pioneers. It was here in Genoa that Norwegian-born Snowshoe Thompson, burdened with bags of mail from the newly anointed state of California, descended the snowy heights of the Sierra on skis 12 feet long, delivering letters and documents to those in the valley as well as the Comstock and providing a glimpse of the sport that wouldn’t connect with Americans for another 70 years. The small trading post was also a frequent stop for Hank Monk, the famed stage driver Mark Twain alluded to who was quick with the whip, and the wiry, courageous riders of the Pony Express who’d dismount at the post, fill up canteens, swap steeds and gallop away to points east and west. The Genoa Bar, the colorful saloon that opened in 1853, still pours today and has served up characters the likes of Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt, Clark Gable, Lauren Bacall and Johnny Cash.
Carson Valley’s people have been shaped by a solid work ethic, a love for celebration and an appreciation for what nature offers. That blend explains why you’ll find institutions like the J&T Basque Restaurant encourage strangers to break bread at the same table. It’s also why locals are quick to share the hottest fishing holes, the most exciting mountain bike trails, the high desert ridges where wild horses like to gather, meadows where bald eagles appear each spring, and those ski runs that hold the finest stashes of powder. These are people who enjoy sharing their pocket of goodness, whether with next-door neighbors or with those seeing the valley for their very first time.
The small town dirt streets and wooden sidewalks are a thing of the past (with the exception of a fine living museum) but the charms remain. In its place have come shaded parks, a swimming center, golf courses, an impressive shopping scene, and a fine lineup of restaurants that cater to all tastes. That refined, yet informal approach to life carries into the business world as Carson Valley has captured the eyes of businesses looking to blend lifestyle and opportunity as well as to those seeking an inspiring place to hold their meetings and conventions.
There’s an allure to the Carson Valley that’s as brilliant today as it was 150 years ago. The same warm glow of the Genoa Bar that drew wranglers and writers long ago now welcomes weekend warriors, thirsty bikers and travelers in search of a place that’s honest, raw and anything but pretentious. In short, the welcoming charm of Carson Valley is as refreshing as its blue skies.