“Safer than the Average Bear” posters are cute, friendly reminders to put on your mask and practice distancing while enjoying the renewed freedom of travel to Reno/Tahoe. Partnering tourism organizations are committed to safety in their Sierra settings. Fewer crowds after the summer influx and strict measures make it a safe bet for golf vacations now or in the spring.
After our first cautious trip since pandemic sequestering, we recommend these special spots:
Stay at River Ranch Lodge and Restaurant, a 1918 alpine retreat on the edge of the Truckee River where rafting revelers furiously paddle to the exit bank before reaching the rapids which lull patrons to sleep at night.
North Lake Tahoe is minutes away with shops and eateries, beach parks and trails leading to the marina. A guitarist serenaded in the park where a gigantic bear sculpture looms with 200,000 pennies that form his fur. Warnings at River Ranch and stories of real bears abound at golf courses such as Old Brockway where nine holes with plenty of timberland and a swilcan bridge have more charm than a leprechaun. Owners and sons make three generations of caring for the popular fun run which adjoins Spindleshanks for pub food, steaks and specials, like a sumptuous soft-shell crab.
Coyote Moon Golf Course stands out as a true force of nature.
A local member says, “wait for a siren and the coyotes go nuts.” Their den is behind the boulders of the 12th green. Round to the 13th for a dramatic cliff shot below. Alpine golf continues at the Olympic site, Links at Squaw Creek where a ski lift is front and center but takes a back seat to golf in the summer. Elevated tee boxes descend to protected wetlands where carts rattle on boardwalks over the valley marshes.
Stay at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe on the South Lake’s main drag.
Part of the Caesar’s casino collection, it is a couple blocks from Edgewood Golf Resort, one of our all-time faves where the entertaining American Century Celebrity Tournament is played in July. The fun, diverse routing of holes crescendos down to the great lake on 16, finishing parallel to the lapping wave action and onlooking boaters along 17 and 18. Save the lake distraction for a kayak tour with Clearly Tahoe for a fisheye view in a clear kayak to a clear depth of 60 feet. Guided eco and history narrations include celeb commentary. Hike along Lake Tahoe’s dramatic shore trails and have a picnic on the beach or dive in to the refreshing water. Desire to relocate might be strong so check out Clear Creek. $400k average priced half acre lots are going fast and homeowners will have priority in the capped membership making this an investment opportunity as well as a dream home spot. The exclusive course is secluded in natural beauty where you literally feel on top of the world, especially by the green on hole 14. Members have bonus access to the community’s lake house next to number nine of Edgewood.
Stay at Carson Valley Inn, the historic casino hotel with entertainment.
Over 100 golf groups most years, make it home base with twelve courses within a half hour drive including two at Genoa Lakes. It is a serene setting with a river and creek rippling through below the Sierra Nevada mountains. Carson Valley is known for hiking, soaring, wildlife viewing and the Genoa Bar and Saloon, the oldest in Nevada where legends have quenched their thirst. Many early settlers came from the Basque region and still take pride in serving a family style meal with lots of courses. Pace yourself!
Stay at Peppermill Resort Casino, a Tuscan mini Bellagio minutes from the efficient Reno airport.
Thermal sensors gauge human temps at the entrance, 100+ degrees not allowed. Giant screens throughout deliver a world tour, vividly reflecting photos and videography of nature and iconic sites from everywhere you’ve been or have dreamed of going. Sports shows, from Morning Drive to Bull Riding broadcast larger than life. Tower suites overlooking the elaborate marbled pool complex are spacious and luxurious with jet tubs and double showerheads. Many golf courses are within an hour from “The biggest little city in the world,” none more picturesque than Toiyabe in Washoe Valley. For a safe nighttime party atmosphere and chow, The Eddy on the Reno Riverwalk has repurposed freight containers.
Reno/Tahoe is Sierra safe and the airport is clear for takeoffs or join the cross-country trekking trend.