If you live in Northern Nevada, you have already noticed some of the trees subtly changing into fall colors. Quaking aspen, poplars, and cottonwoods are turning to soft gold, brilliant yellow, and astounding persimmon colors. The native oak and maple are not as brazen as their big brothers and sisters across the United States. Nevada is a harsh environment, where temperatures can vary more than 50 degrees in a day, and its oak and maple trees provide bronze, russet, and mild red colors, rather than the brilliant crimson found in other states.
Fall colors hang on with intensity
If you missed the incredible tree fashion show in September and early October, don’t despair. The cottonwoods hold onto their leaves till the bitter end, and will still provide an interesting, pleasant view as you drive along the highway. Late wildflowers and changing rabbit brush provide additional color to the roadside and desert sands. Take an expedition along U.S. 95 between Reno and Schurz; enjoy the beautiful trees along the Walker River, and compare them to the beautiful trees encountered along the Carson River, on the way into Fallon. Take U.S. 50 from Fallon into Fernley, while admiring the colorful trees and brush that can be seen for miles along either side of the highway. When you reach Fernley, turn to the right to follow the road to Hwy 80. If you miss the turn on the roundabout, continue through town; you will pass several shops, a fire station, post office, a signal light, a few small restaurants, the bowling center, and head around a slight curve. Just past the Pilot Gasoline Station and Chukar’s Sports Casino, you will see the entrance, on the left, for Hwy 80 west, which is the direction you want to go.
Now you are going to have an even better view of the trees. The Truckee River runs through the area, and cottonwoods abound. Follow the highway until you reach Sparks, Nevada. You will see an exit for Greg/Vista. There is a McDonald’s and Del Taco, if you want a quick meal and break before you continue on your way. There are also gasoline stations on both sides of the road. Take the exit, bear to the right, and get into the left-hand turn lane for McDonald’s and Del Taco.
Turn right out of McDonald’s to get back on the Hwy 80 west to Reno (only a few short miles). Just about anywhere you look, you will see trees changing color. Your new destination, now that you’ve seen a lot of colorful trees, is the Wilbur D. May Arboretum and Botanical Garden in Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, Reno.
Wilbur D. May Arboretum and Botanical Garden
This beautiful twelve-acre area, a part of Washoe County Regional Parks & Open Spaces, is a tribute to the hardiness of native plants, and the adaptability of certain plant species. Locked between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Great Basin Desert, the garden is at about 4600 feet elevation. Reno has an average rainfall of7 inches, with a growing season of less than 120 days.
The primary purpose of the garden is education and research; it is a good place to measure the success or failure of an introduced plant species, and the native plants that grow in the high desert environment of Reno, Nevada, and vicinity. The red maples are already starting to turn red, and more tree color change is expected soon, as the temperatures are dropping into the low 40’s at night.
There is no entrance fee to the park, which is located at 1595 N. Sierra, Reno NV. There is an entrance fee to the museum. Hours and prices have changed due to cuts in State and County budgets. Please contact them at 775-785-5961, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Words are always descriptive, but go to this site to get an idea of the beauty of May Arboretum and Botanical Garden.
Enjoy the beautiful fall drive, surrounded by the beauty of Nature.
Standley White, Fall Color in the Reno/Lake Tahoe Region
Margo Bartlett Pesek, Trip of the Week: Fall foliage in Nevada not to be missed
Washoe County Regional Parks, May Arboretum