About Bowers Mansion Regional Park
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 expanses of lawn and lots of tall shade trees, making nice areas for family picnics and providing 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. You can also take a tour of Bowers Mansion, enjoy a dip in the public pool, and stroll along walking trails. The park is right at the transition zone between where the open Great Basin desert ends and the Sierra Nevada forest begins. Bowers Mansion Regional Park is operated by Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space.
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...
- Swimming pool (open during summer).
- 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.
- Bowers Mansion tours.
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. Take I580 / US 395 south from Reno to Washoe Valley. Take the exit at the bottom of the hill with signs clearly directing you to Bowers Mansion and Davis Creek parks.
If you are coming from the Carson City area, look for similar signs after you have passed Washoe Lake.
Historic Facilities at Bowers Mansion Regional Park
The public swimming pool at Bowers Mansion Regional Park is open during the summer season from early June to mid-August. Swimming is available every day of the week from 12 noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call the swimming pool during open hours at (775) 849-0644. Swimming lessons are also available.
Tours of Bowers Mansion are again available after renovation of the historic structure. Tours are every hour on the hour, on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tours are available during the summer months and usually run through September. The cost for 2014 is $8 for adults (ages 18 to 61), $5 for seniors (62+), $5 for children (ages 6 to 17), and free for kids 5 and under. For more information, call Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space at (775) 823-6500.
History of 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 and 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
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.