It’s been snowing and raining like crazy this winter. We’re talking about an all-time precipitation record for Reno plus snowfall measured in tens of feet up in the Sierra Nevada. Since the winter water season began on October 1, 2016, Reno recorded 12.74 inches of precipitation as of the end of February, 2017, as measured by the National Weather Service. It has since rained and snowed even more, so the total to date is higher yet. The previous record for a year was 12.72 inches in 1982-1983. The average annual precipitation for Reno is 7.4 inches.

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe has received 678 inches of snow this season (that’s 56.5 feet) and leads ski resorts in North America with the most cumulative snowfall this season. Other Tahoe area ski resorts aren’t far behind.

This has all been great for ending the multi-year drought in Nevada and California, but it hasn’t been a smooth transition from parched back to wet. The Reno region (and areas over in California) have endured periods of flooding, damaged roadways, mud and rock slides, avalanches, tough travel and closed highways, and a serious high water crisis at Oroville Dam north of Sacramento.

If you are going to be heading for the mountains this season, check highway conditions and the weather forecast. There’s no point in driving into trouble if you don’t have to.

Carson Pass, Highway 88, California, CA

Snowfall at Carson Pass on Highway 88. Since this photo was taken on March 4, 2017, it has snowed even more. Photo © Stan White

Spooner Lake has a system of cross-country ski trails that wind through the forest, across an open meadow and along the banks of Spooner Lake. The trail system is free to the public and made possible by a partnership between Nevada State Parks and Nevada Nordic, a non-profit group based in the Tahoe Basin. The scenic trail system includes several teardrop loops, offers both skate and classic skiing, and is intermediate with flat rolling terrain. These trails are great for both families and experienced skiers. Here are some trail etiquette rules so everyone has a fun time.

  • Do not walk on the trail in shoes or boots.
  • Dogs must be on a leash of not more than 6 feet in length and off to the side of the groomed trails.
  • Snowshoers are welcome, but should stay to the far edge and be careful not to mar the center of the trail where it is groomed for skiing.

Spooner Lake is part of Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. Access to the trails is free, but there is a park entrance fee of $7 per vehicle. Nevada residents receive a $2 discount. Spooner Lake is east of Carson City and south of Incline Village, at the intersection of U.S. 50 and Nevada 28.

Source story and photo: Nevada Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Cross country skiing, Spooner Lake, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, NV

January is a good time to learn a new winter sport. Abundant snow is blanketing the Sierra Nevada and there are two events during January that are specifically designed to help newbies pick up the skills needed to enjoy downhill skiing, crosscountry skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing.

During “Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month,” ski areas across the Reno / Tahoe region are offering deals designed to get new skiers and snowboarders on the slopes and to help veterans improve their technique during the winter ski season. Participating resorts include Diamond Peak, Mt. Rose, Tahoe Donner, Northstar California, Boreal, Alpine Meadows / Squaw Valley, and Homewood.

The purpose of Winter Trails is to get people to try snowshoeing and/or cross country skiing at participating ski resorts and parks. There aren’t as many participating locations near Reno as in years past, but don’t let that stop you from learning a new sport and saving money while you are at it. Get more details from “Winter Trails in the Lake Tahoe Region.”

If you would rather just play in the snowy mountains without the formality of learning a new sport, check out “Snow Play Areas in the Lake Tahoe Region” for nearby places to just go have some winter fun.

Be sure to check on the weather forecast and highway conditions before driving up to the snow country. It’s also a good idea to brush up on winter driving knowledge by reading “Reno Area Winter Driving and Snow Removal.”