Bowers Mansion Regional Park, 20 miles south of Reno in Washoe Valley, offers a variety of recreational day-use opportunities. There are large and sunny lawn areas and lots of tall shade trees, making nice areas for family picnics and giving kids lots of room to play. There are three group picnic shelters that require reservations, along with individual picnic spots available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The park is right at the transition zone between where the open Great Basin desert ends and the Sierra Nevada forest begins.
Day Use Activities at Bowers Mansion Regional Park
Bowers Mansion Regional Park is a great place to go if you are looking for day use activities. There is something for everyone in the family, including the opportunity to just relax in under a big shade tree. A big plus is that there is no day use fee unless you are reserving a group area for a picnic or other gathering. Here are some of the available facilities and things to do...
- Barbecue areas.
- Hiking and walking trails.
- Horseshoe pits.
- First come picnic areas.
- Reservable picnic areas.
- Sunny lawn areas.
- Historic information signs about Bowers Mansion and the former Washoe Valley resort.
About Bowers Mansion
Construction of the Bowers Mansion house was begun in 1861 by Comstock millionaires Sandy and Eilley Orrum Bowers. The couple had met and married in Gold Hill, next door to Virginia City. They owned adjoining mining claims and when the Comstock mining boom hit, the Bowers claims paid off hansomely. Part of their new wealth went to building the Bowers Mansion, their estate in Washoe Valley. Alas, the glory days were all too short. Sandy Bowers died in 1868, leaving Eilley to struggle for several years until finally losing the house and property to foreclosure.
Bowers Mansion stood empty and forlorn for years. Henry Riter acquired it and operated it as a popular resort and way station for travelers between the Reno area and Carson City. In 1946, Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space became the landlord and has since operated Bowers Mansion as a public park.
For more details about the history of Bowers Mansion and Sandy and Eilley Orrum Bowers, refer to these sources...
- Sandy and Eilley Orrum Bowers - One Nevada Encyclopedia
- Bowers Mansion - National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary - National Park Service
Getting to Bowers Mansion Regional Park
Bowers Mansion Regional Park is located in Washoe Valley at 4005 Old U.S. Highway 395 North, about 20 miles south of Reno. Access to Bowers Mansion from the Reno area is currently by way of a detour due to construction activity on the section of I580 between Reno and Carson City. This situation may last through 2012, until the Bowers Mansion cutoff interchange is completed. Look for detour signs in Washoe City marking a right turn that will direct you around the construction zone and to the park.
If you are coming from the Carson City area, look for the Eastlake Boulevard exit right at the south end of Washoe Valley. Turn left and follow Old U.S. 395 (Nevada 429) north to reach Bowers Mansion Regional Park after a few miles. The entrance is on the left.
Closed Facilities at Bowers Mansion Regional Park
Due to lack of funding, the public swimming pool at Bowers Mansion Regional Park is closed until further notice. Tours of Bowers Mansion itself are not available until on-going renovation work is completed. For more information about these closures, call Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space at (775) 823-6501.
Other Parks in the Washoe Valley Area
There are two other nice parks in Washoe Valley and another excellent one close by. Each is unique, of course, and they offer recreational opportunities not found at Bowers Mansion Regional Park. Check out these park facilities for things like fishing, camping, wildlife viewing, boating, day use, activities for children and families, bike and horseback riding, and some easy to challenging hiking.
Sources: Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space, Online Nevada Encyclopedia, National Park Service.