We’ve put together a list of just some of the amazing places you can visit in Northern Nevada. Discover what makes these places special, plan your trips and resolve to protect nature today!
RIVER FORK RANCH PRESERVE
Located where the east and west forks of the Carson River meet near Genoa, River Fork Ranch Preserve is an 805-acre patchwork of pastures, meadows and wetlands that host migrating sandhill cranes and have supported cattle ranching for more than a century.
When you visit, look for the trailhead that provides public access to a showcase of successful land protection, habitat restoration, sustainable agriculture and wildlife viewing areas. The Whit Hall Interpretive Center here is the hub of our efforts along the Carson River and one of the ways we “walk our talk.” The structure has Platinum certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) from the U.S. Green Building Council.
At River Fork Ranch, you can also see The Nature of Art living sculptures in person (see below).
MCCARRAN RANCH PRESERVE
A few minutes east of Reno, McCarran Ranch Preserve is The Nature Conservancy’s first restoration project on the Truckee River. Working here since 2003, we have we have reconnected the river to its floodplain, improved water quality and wildlife habitat, and provided an important recreational resource for the community. Today visitors can spot bird species not seen for several decades, cast for trout and other native fish from bank or boat, and enjoy walking or biking through cottonwoods and willows.
INDEPENDENCE LAKE PRESERVE
Nestled high in the Sierra Nevada, Independence Lake Preserve’s beauty and rustic nature are matched only by the amazing diversity that it supports. Independence Lake is home to one of only two wild, self-sustaining lake populations of Lahontan cutthroat trout in the world. The surrounding meadows and forests provide habitat for black bears, mountain lions, bald and golden eagles, migrating sandhill cranes and more.
And there’s more than wildlife here. Independence Lake Preserve is critical for people, too. As part of the Truckee River watershed, the lake is crucial to the system that supplies clean drinking water to Northern Nevada, including Reno and Sparks. You can walk-in during the day year-round and, from June through October, explore offshore via one of our free boats or kayaks (first-come, first-served).
In the high plateau country east of the Calico Mountains and north of the Black Rock Desert lies one of Nevada's most productive antelope ranges lies, Soldier Meadows. This area also supports healthy sage-grouse populations and provides habitat to three imperiled species: the desert dace (a rare desert fish found only in Soldier Meadows' hot spring outflows north of Mud Meadow Reservoir); basalt cinquefoil (a rare plant); and Lahontan cutthroat trout.
An example of how wildlife and livestock interests can work together, The Nature Conservancy purchased 1,820 acres of desert dace habitat from Soldier Meadows Ranch’s owners 20+ years ago, and protected 5,150 additional acres via conservation easement. Today the Bureau of Land Management manages these lands, offering you and your friends and family several recreational opportunities, including a primitive cabin, camping sites and a walking trail to a hot spring.
BENTLY RANCH - KIRMAN FIELD
Feel like a walk with great views? If you said, “Yes,” the trail at Bently Ranch - Kirman Field is for you! The late Northern Nevada businessman and rancher Don Bently "never bought into the stereotype that agricultural and environmental interests have to be played off against each other.” This spot is the product of Don Bently’s vision—shared by the Conservancy—to demonstrate that cattle ranching, habitat protection and public access can go hand-in-hand.
The Conservancy acquired a conservation easement on more than 1,000 acres at Bently Ranch - Kirman Field to protect it from development and encourage sustainable grazing practices. Thanks to Bently Ranch and Conservancy staff—and local Eagle Scouts and Carson Valley Trails Association volunteers—you can hike nearly four miles of natural surface trail here, enjoying the amazing panoramas along the way.
CLEAR CREEK TRAIL
Thanks to hundreds of community volunteers organized by the Conservancy and the Carson Valley Trails Association, Nevadans and visitors alike have 10.5 miles of trail to explore along the scenic Clear Creek. The only tributary to the main stem of the Carson River that flows year round, Clear Creek’s water is integral to the entire watershed. That’s why we’re protecting it: To help the water remain pristine and clean for all who need it.
The forested mountains surrounding Clear Creek also serve as nature’s water storage and filtering facilities. Frequent, high-severity wildfires and subsequent post-fire flooding increasingly threaten water that serves Carson City and surrounding areas. To combat the risk of catastrophic wildfire, we're working with partners to restore forest health surrounding Clear Creek, including thinning overcrowded trees on at least 800 acres.
THE NATURE OF ART
We know: River Fork Ranch already made the list. But we think it’s worth calling out these unique features at the preserve—and making a special trip to see them for yourself!
In 2014 we launched a special phase of our Carson River project: We created art to restore nature! Guided by Conservancy scientists, environmental artists Daniel McCormick and Mary O’Brien worked with hundreds of community and corporate volunteers to harvest willows on the preserve. Then they weaved together, creating large, living sculptures—some up to 350 feet long—that today are growing into important habitat for willow flycatchers, monarch butterflies and other wildlife. The sculptures at River Fork Ranch also improve water quality by reducing erosion and filtering pollutants.
The project was done in partnership with the Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art + Environment and supported by the J. Robert Anderson Memorial Fund.
HEAVENLY-TAHOE EPIC DISCOVERY
Are you looking for a summer adventure? What could be better than family fun that restores nature? That’s exactly what The Nature Conservancy has been creating with Vail Resorts and the U.S. Forest Service at Heavenly-Tahoe Epic Discovery. We combined scientific information about where your water comes from with inspirational activities that inspire a deeper understanding of all the benefits that Sierra Nevada forests provide in our everyday lives: clean air and water, homes for wildlife, healthy streams for fish, places to play and important wood resources that society needs.
This collaboration is also generating additional funding for the Conservancy’s work, with 1 percent of proceeds from ticket sales supporting Sierra Nevada forest restoration.
Whatever you enjoy—hiking, biking, skiing or wildlife watching—this collaboration creates emotional connections that can launch a lifetime of curiosity and outdoor fun!