Reno is a city in the state of Nevada that is located along the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Both a destination in its own right and a gateway for many outdoors activities, Reno is the second largest gaming destination in Nevada, and while some of the Casinos are quite large they tend to be less glitzy than those in Las Vegas.
Reno is at the western edge of the Great Basin, a zone stretching to Salt Lake City that does not drain to the sea - water is carried away by evaporation only. Average rainfall is approximately 6 inches a year, with much of that occurring in the winter in the form of snow. July is the warmest month, with an average high of 91 degrees Fahrenheit, and January is the coldest month, with an average low of 19 degrees Fahrenheit.
From Northern California
As both Reno and the Sierra Nevada are popular weekend destinations for Northern Californians, traffic can be bad coming to Reno on Friday evening, and leaving Reno on Sunday evening, especially in the ski season.
The most direct route to Reno from Sacramento is via Interstate 80 over Donner Summit (7239 feet or 2206 m). This route sees a great deal of snowfall during the winter, and will shut down for periods of up to a day several times during a typical winter. Northern California residents also use U.S. 395 in Susanville, this highway stays at a lower elevation and has less problems of traffic and weather. Residents living in the Redding and Chico areas of California find this route safer and quicker. If you plan on crossing this or any other pass in the Sierra Nevada in the winter, keep an eye on the weather forecast, and always carry tire chains if you do not have four-wheel drive.
An alternative route is US 50 over Echo Summit (7330 feet). This route follows the American River up from the Sacramento valley, and then drops into the Lake Tahoe Basin. From there you can continue on US 50 into Carson City, and from there head north to Reno on US 395, or continue around the lake to Incline Village and drop into Reno on the Mount Rose Highway. This route is two lanes only for much of the way, and traffic can be heavy both in the winter and the summer, and winter maintenance is not as good as on Interstate 80.
Passes across the Sierra south of US 50, aside from CA 88, are not maintained in the winter (from approximately November until May.) And when they are open they are out of the way and potentially dangerous.
From Southern California
The most direct route to Reno is via US 395. This route takes you up the Owens Valley to Bishop, past Mammoth Springs, into Carson City and thence to Reno. The portion between Bishop and Carson City can be wintry, but is generally below the heavy snowfall as it stays east of the Sierra crest.
From Las Vegas
Don't be fooled by the fact that Las Vegas and Reno are in the same State - there's about 9 hours of driving time separating them. Take US95 north to Fallon, US 50 west to Fernley, and Interstate 80 west to Reno. If you're not a fan of desert landscapes, boredom is a serious risk on this trip. Winter weather will generally not be a large problem on this trip, but don't count on being able to find food or fuel outside the major towns (Beatty, Tonopah, Hawthorne, Fallon and Fernley)
During the summer the heat along US 95 can be hard on you and on your vehicle. A much more comfortable alternative to cooking in your car is to drive during the night. Many of the dark stretches between the small towns along US 95 reveal numerous shooting stars and other astral phenomenon that you might miss during the baking sun. Be sure to have a lot of rest before undertaking this trip.
From the East
The most traveled route to Reno from the east is Interstate 80. Interstate 80 follows the old Emigrant trail along the Humboldt river for most of the way across Nevada, and thus the grades are generally easy. However, it does this at the expense of swinging well north of the direct route to Reno. US 50 ("The Loneliest Highway in America") is more direct, but it crosses several large mountain ranges and thus has some tight curves, steep grades and a few switchbacks. Don't count on finding food or fuel along US 50 outside of the major towns (Ely, Eureka, Austin, Fallon and Fernley).
The California Zephyr, which runs between Emeryville and Chicago, stops once a day in both directions in Reno. The station is full service, including an indoor waiting room and checked bag service. The station is located in the middle of downtown Reno, and is within walking distance of all the downtown casinos.
Amtrak California also operates a shuttle buses between Reno and Sacramento which connects to the Capitol Corridor, serving Northern California, and the San Joaquins, serving the Central Valley and points south, rail routes.
Long distance bus transit in the state is mostly only along the I 80 corridor. Greyhound maintains a depot in Reno and buses go daily to and from Northern California and Chicago and points east.
The Reno-Tahoe International Airport is served by most major domestic airlines, including Alaskan, American, America West, Continental, Delta, Frontier, Northwest, Southwest and United. For the lowest fares, try to avoid flying into Reno on Friday, and out of Reno on Sunday.
Within the cities of Reno and Sparks public transportation is operated by the Regional Transportation Commission. And for tourists it provides frequent service to the casinos and major shopping centers. http://www.rtcwashoe.com/transportation/
Tourism is the main focus of Reno, and a number of yearly tourism events are held in the Reno-Sparks area, mostly during the summer months.
Reno offers many activities outside the most commonly associated one: gambling.
One thing Renonians know is food! Check out some of these great spots.
There are several world-class ski areas within a one-hour drive of Reno, including Squaw Valley (home of the 1960 Winter Olympics), Heavenly and Alpine Meadows. Lake Tahoe is about forty-five minutes away. The eastern entrances to Yosemite National Park are about an hour and a half south, and are generally much less crowded than the western entrances. Pyramid Lake, the second largest terminus lake in North America, is about thirty minutes away to the north east, and boasts world-record Cutthroat trout fishing and unspoilt scenic beauty.