It’s a right of spring in the Sierra Nevada: The snow starts melting and the kayakers come out to play at the Truckee River Whitewater Park. The park, a manmade playground featuring rapids and pools, sits right at the entrance to downtown Reno, Nev., and it’s the host site of the annual Reno River Festival, taking place this weekend (May 8-10). One of the premier kayaking competitions in the country, the festival offers a great time for visitors to Reno-Tahoe with live music, vendors and events all weekend long.
From humble beginnings
What began as a way to showcase and attract attention to the park for whitewater enthusiasts has grown with a multitude of events – some connected, some not so connected to kayaking. Last year 40,000 athletes and spectators made their way to the river’s edge for great weather and a great time under the spring sunshine.
The festival has followed the trajectory of the popularity of whitewater kayaking. In the U.S., there are few parks designed specifically for whitewater kayakers and only Reno’s is central to a metropolitan core.
Something old, something new
In addition to professional and amateur freestyle and boatercross kayaking events, the Reno River Festival features the Run Amuck fun run, where the goal may be the best costume, not necessarily the best finishing time. For a more spiritual experience, try yoga in the park or take in a fly-fishing casting demonstration. Each day’s party atmosphere is highlighted by live music in the park, craft beers and retail vendors. Dress code? Shorts and sandals.
More on the way
The wave of popularity in whitewater kayaking continues to grow and the Truckee River may become its epicenter in the West. Downriver, at Rock Park in Reno’s sister city of Sparks, a second iteration is under construction and ready to open this summer. The park’s kayaking features complement those of the Reno park, with improved riverbank landscaping, shade structures, and play structures, parking and better access for people with disabilities.
Reno River Festival
- What: Kayaking, live music, food and drink
- When: May 8-10
- Where: Downtown Reno at the Truckee River
- More: RenoRiverFestival.com