Living in Northern Nevada

Information for Prospective Students about the Reno/Sparks Area

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Reno is situated in a broad valley of the Truckee River on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and on the western boundary of the Great Basin high desert.  Reno weather is temperate due to the mountainous location and the elevation of 4500 feet.  Summers are comfortable and dry with cool evening temperatures and low humidity.  Despite heavy snow in the surrounding mountains, winters in Reno are moderate with only occasional, short-lived snowfalls.  The average temperatures call for highs in January of 45°F and lows of 18°F.  July temperatures range from a normal high of 91°F to a normal low of 50°F.

Reno has long been famed as "The Biggest Little City in the World".  With a population of about 430,000 in the greater Reno area, the region offers the advantages and excitement of a major urban area along with the quality of life characteristic of a relatively small western community.  The major industry in Reno is tourism and the big names in show business can be found in the downtown and Lake Tahoe entertainment centers.  Fine restaurants and night clubs exist in abundance.

Reno also supports a thriving arts community rivaled by few cities of its size:  philharmonic and chamber orchestras, a municipal band, an opera guild, a performing artist series, a summer arts festival, and active theater groups. Several art galleries, museums, and a planetarium are located on or near the university campus and throughout the community.  The municipally-owned Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Reno and the Church Fine Arts Complex at the university provide fine settings for artistic and cultural events.  The Convention Center near the southern edge of the city and the Lawlor Events Center on campus are used for indoor athletic activities such as basketball, for large concerts, conventions, and trade fairs.

Many major special events and festivals are held in Reno on an annual basis.  Examples include the National Championship Air RacesThe Great Reno Balloon RaceHot August Nights (a celebration of 50s music, cars, and culture), and the Reno Rodeo ("the World's Wildest and Richest").  Reno is the home of the National Bowling Stadium, where bowling tournaments are held regularly.  The nearby communities of Virginia City and Carson City are of interest to fans of the culture and history of the Old West.

Rand McNally's Vacation Places Rated has ranked the Reno/Tahoe as the number one location in the nation for outdoor sports activities.  Twenty golf courses lie within an hour's drive of downtown Reno and numerous parks, recreation facilities, and swimming pools are found within the city.  The Truckee River, which runs from Lake Tahoe through Reno to Pyramid Lake, provides a natural parkway that winds through the heart of the city and a developed bicycle and pedestrian path follows its course.  Reno is surrounded by public lands that provide hiking and mountain biking opportunities immediately accessible from the city and the university campus.

The Reno/Lake Tahoe area provides one of the highest concentration of developed alpine and nordic skiing facilities in the world and back country skiing opportunities are equally accessible.  In summers, road and mountain biking, camping, hiking (including portions of the Pacific Crest Trail and the Tahoe Rim Trail), and rock climbing in the Sierra Nevada are unsurpassed.  To the east of the city, the rugged mountains and isolation of the Great Basin desert challenge more adventurous outdoor enthusiasts with country as wild and remote as can be found in the West, including National Forests and National Wilderness Areas.  Big game and bird hunting, as well as fishing are outstanding in the immediate Reno area and throughout the state.  Special regional attractions include the winter sports complex at Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, one of the country's largest cross-country ski resorts at Royal Gorge, and the unique year-round recreational opportunities at Lake Tahoe and Pyramid Lake.

The Black Rock Desert in northern Washoe County is one of the most unique landscapes in the world.  The Black Rock Desert is the site the annual Burning Man celebration.

Beyond the local area, YosemiteLassen VolcanicGreat BasinRedwoodCrater LakeDeath Valley, and Sequoia and King's Canyon National Parks are located within a day's drive from Reno.  Interstate 80 leads west through Sacramento (about two and one-half hours), to the San Francisco Bay area (about four hours), passing through some of the finest mountain scenery in the nation.

Reno is a major industry and trade center for the western geographic region.  While gaming, mining, and agriculture remain the most important components of the regional economy, local industry, including high-tech firms, is becoming an increasingly significant economic factor in the community. Reno is the headquarters for the Sierra Nevada Section of the American Chemical Society.  Many of the faculty, students, and staff in the chemistry, biochemistry, and chemical engineering departments, the Desert Research Institute, and scientists in local government and industry are involved in local ACS activities.

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