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Eastern Gems of the Truckee Meadows: Exploring the History and Natural Beauty

Nestled in the eastern Truckee Meadows, the Sparks Marina and Rosewood Nature Study Area both stand as remarkable local outdoor spaces. Both locations offer opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers to immerse themselves in the beauty of the region. Both places represent recreation areas created from unique spaces and places. In this blog post, we will delve into the history and highlights of these two captivating local parks.

The Sparks Marina, located in the city of Sparks near the Legends shopping area and Western Village Casino, traces its roots back to the early 20th century. The open pit that would become the Marina was originally a gravel quarry operated by Helms Construction Company 1968 to 1995. The quarry was visible to cars passing by on I-80 for decades and visitors could peer down 100 foot drop off in a nearby parking lot. The quarry provided construction materials to local roads and projects for years but, eventually, officials found petroleum products seeping through the southwest walls of the pit. A nearby petroleum tank had begun leaking and contaminated local groundwater. The area was declared a superfund site. An arduous clean-up process started and in 1996 the area was declared chemical free and sold to the City of Sparks.

Today, Sparks Marina is a scenic recreational hub, encompassing a sparkling 77-acre lake surrounded by a sandy beach-area, lush green spaces, and a one-of-a-kind walking loop. The Marina offers a wide range of activities, including swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, and even a scuba diving park. The waters teem with fish, making it a popular spot for anglers seeking a rewarding catch. Additionally, the marina's paved trails provide ample opportunities for walking, jogging, and cycling while enjoying breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Nearby shopping and amenities make the area a bustling commercial and recreational district.

In contrast to the urban oasis of Sparks Marina, the Rosewood Nature Study Area offers a tranquil escape into the natural wonders of the eastern Truckee Meadows. Nestled along the banks of the Truckee River and Boynton Slough in South-Eastern Reno, this 219-acre nature preserve is a haven for wildlife and a sanctuary for nature enthusiasts.

The modern history of Rosewood Nature Study Area began in the early 1990s when the site that would become Rosewood was opened as a municipally-owned golf course in 1991. Later, in 2015, due to the construction of Veterans Parkway, the Rosewood Lakes Golf Course was consequently decommissioned and permanently closed. After closure, the property fell into disrepair and invasive weed species took over. This damaged the native habitat which also impacted local wildlife and limited public use.

In 2018, the Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation began the planning process to transform the site into a usable outdoor recreation space that the community could enjoy. In September 2019 AmeriCorps Wetland Restoration Technicians joined the team and began the restoration process. The former golf course is currently undergoing a transformation to a thriving wetland habitat for educational and recreational use.

Visitors to Rosewood Nature Study Area can explore its network of well-maintained trails that wind through diverse ecosystems, including wetlands, meadows, and newly planted native plants. This diversity of habitats attracts a wide variety of bird species, making it a haven for birdwatchers and nature photographers. The area also provides a peaceful respite for walking, wildlife observation, and enjoying the sights and sounds of the wetlands.

Sparks Marina and Rosewood Nature Study Area epitomize the natural beauty and recreational opportunities available in Northern Nevada. From the rejuvenated quarry turned serene lake at Sparks Marina to the restored nature preserve of Rosewood, these destinations offer an escape into the wonders of the region's diverse landscapes.

Whether you seek the excitement of paddleboarding and beach activities or the tranquility of birdwatching and nature walks, Sparks Marina and Rosewood Nature Study Area have something for everyone. Explore the unique histories, soak in the breathtaking vistas, and immerse yourself in the natural splendor of these remarkable local outdoor spaces.

So, lace up your walking shoes or grab your fishing gear, and embark on a memorable journey through the history and natural beauty of the eastern Truckee Meadows area at the Sparks Marina and Rosewood Nature Study Area.

For more information on Rosewood, read our blog from last year about Rosewood as Reno’s Newest Fishing Spot. You can also read more about the Sparks Marina in our park directory, here.

Finally, don’t forget to join us on June 24th at Rosewood Nature Study Area for our Second Annual Carpe Diem Fishing Derby! This event is great for the whole family and it's FREE to register and participate.


About the Author:

Jennie is serving her second Americorps VISTA term as the Wetland Restoration Outreach Coordinator. She is from right here in Reno and went to the University of Nevada, Reno for a degree in Cultural Anthropology. She’s excited to use her marketing background to teach people about the parks and opportunities in their community. She enjoys running, hiking, sunshine and events such as Moms on the Run and the American River Half Marathon.


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