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LET THE GOOD TIMES, AND RAPIDS, ROLL

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Grab some Buds because the dam gates are open and the river is rolling. After a long winter with near-record snowfall, the Truckee River has finally opened for safe summer river rafting.

We are going to bypass attempting to explain the unimaginable beauty the Truckee River holds. You’ll need to get your toes wet in order to absorb the true breath-taking scenery and experience the refreshing chill of the Truckee yourself. Two, of many, self-guided rafting companies are Truckee River Rafting and Truckee River Raft Company; both offer five mile floats down the Truckee River.

Most trips are leisurely and take two to three hours to complete, but don’t assume you have to stay in your raft the whole time, jump in and go for a swim! And, if you get hungry, row off to the side and enjoy a picnic lunch on a sandy shore.

When your trip has come to an end, a free shuttle will take you back to your vehicle in Tahoe City any time before 6:00 p.m. Hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily (weather permitting) and footwear is mandatory. Trips include parking, shuttle, paddles, life jackets and commercial rafts for 2-20 people.

We know a long day on the river will brew up an appetite and there is no better way to satisfy your hunger than dining alfresco at one of North Lake Tahoe’s premier restaurants. River Ranch Lodge is always a favorite, especially with its outdoor patio that gives guests a front row seat to rafters exiting the Truckee River. Locals rave about the pulled pork sandwich served on ciabatta with bleu cheese coleslaw and southern barbeque sauce. River Grill in Tahoe City is also a hotspot and has one of Lake Tahoe’s best happy hours. Definitely try the macaroni and cheese with applewood smoked bacon, tomato and New York sharp white cheddar. And for some of the best margaritas in town, head to the historic Blue Agave in Tahoe City and take a load off where Baby Face Nelson hid out from the authorities back in Tahoe’s heyday.

For more information about rafting and raft companies go to www.GoTahoeNorth.com or www.VisitRenoTahoe.com.

Rafting down the Truckee River in Reno

It was a clear blue Sunday morning and the temperature was supposed to reach the low 90s. My boyfriend and I were off to spend Father’s Day rafting down the Truckee River with our two friends and their daughter.

We packed up our cheap rafts, oars, water and sunscreen and headed to Dorostkar River Park, off of Mayberry Drive in Reno. We piled out of the truck, got creative and used an air mattress pump to pump up our rafts.

After we got the rafts pumped up and into the Truckee River, we slid (none-too-gracefully) into them and started our almost five-mile trek from Dorostkar Park to Wingfield Park in downtown Reno.

Within 10 minutes, the bottom of our raft was already flat. As we hit rapids, trees and rocks, we had to lift our entire body off of the raft and lie straight in order for our bodies to survive the abuse.

Within the first 15 minutes, our raft was filled with water. Not because it was leaking (we had a hole but it wasn’t affecting us) but because the rapids and the jarring against rocks would splash water into our boat.

As my boyfriend tried to paddle us to safety, I was cupping my hands and trying to bail water out. As you might be able to guess, it didn’t work too well.

I gave up using my hands and dumped out the water in our only water bottle and tried to use the bottle to get some of the water out. The rapids were getting too crazy and there was more water splashing into our boat than there was getting out.

Somewhere between us swimming in our raft, getting our bodies bashed against rocks and running into a cove of trees, we decided that we really did buy a cheap boat.

Rafters, beware. Somewhere near Idlewild Park, there is a drop-off. By drop-off, I mean we would have fallen out of our boats and be swimming had we attempted the drop-off with our flat rafts. However, there were some brave folks who attempted the drop-off and made it through alive and OK. Stay to the far left when you approach it. If not, you will be going over rocks and those hurt a little bit more.

About four hours later, we finally floated into Wingfield Park. As soon as we hit the last rapid, I was swept out of the raft and gasping for air as I grappled for my boyfriend’s arm. I survived but I can’t say the same for our air mattress pump, water bottle, oar, bag of Wheat Thins and my shirt.

Despite the bruises I had, the killer sunburns the men got and the $30 worth of things floating down the Truckee River, we all had a blast. I’m sure we will do it again soon, hopefully this time with a more sturdy raft.

By Heather Lara, Nevada Commission on Tourism


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