A Relaxing Fall Color Drive Near Reno and Carson

One of the best fall color drives for people in Northwestern Nevada includes gorgeous autumn color along with weekend pig races, a giant sling shot, even homemade pie.  

Start the day traveling south on 580/395 from Reno or Carson. When you reach the northern part of Carson Valley you’ll cross over Cradlebaugh Bridge and the Carson River, where the golden cottonwoods (now in the Getting Better stage) grow in front of an impressive backdrop of the Sierra. Nice reflections in the river, too. 

Throughout the rest of the valley, maples are ablaze in red, all but a few stragglers in the Peak stage. 

Best Fall Color Drives, Carson Valley Maples, 10-14-22, Kim Wilkes

From 395, turn right on Highway 88 at the town of Minden. Maples here are looking lovely now, although the cottonwoods in view of the highway are patchy. 

Maples Trees on a Fall Color Drive through Carson Valley, 10-14-22, Kim Wilkes

California Fall Color Just Over The State Line

Drive up Highway 88 and cross over into California and Woodfords Canyon, where aspens and other deciduous trees line the banks of the Carson River as it tumbles down from the high country.

Upper Woodfords Canyon is Near Peak, the middle canyon is Patchy, and most of the trees in the lower canyon are still green. 

Upper Woodfords Canyon, 10-13-22, Kim Wilkes

At the top of the canyon is Wylder General Store and Café where you can grab lunch and homemade pie and baked goods. Get there before noon to increase your chances of not losing out to other fall foliators who have a sweet tooth. The baked goods are in high demand and can disappear quickly.  

After lunch, admire the fall colors in Hope Valley, which are mostly At Peak, with the exception of the grove by Luther Pass, which always turns last.

Pick Your Pumpkin!

Return back down through Woodfords Canyon into the Carson Valley, where you can visit Corley Ranch to choose your pumpkin and participate in the Harvest Festival throughout October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m..  

This is a really fun place for kids, especially on weekends when they offer activities like a giant sling shot, pig races, and wagon rides. During the week they have a more limited choice of activities but still lots of fun fall stuff happening here.

The easiest way to get to Corley Ranch from Highway 88 coming down from Woodfords is to: 1) take a right on Kimmerling, where you can admire the scarlet-colored maples and other trees in the ranch house yards.

2) Turn left on Tillman (there’s a 7-11 near the corner here) and when Tillman dead ends, turn right.

A little ways past the golf course you’ll connect with Highway 395. Turn right and Corley Ranch is a short drive on the left. 

Carson Valley and Woodfords Canyon Fall Color Update

October 15, 2022

Cradlebaugh Bridge: Getting Better (50%)

Carson Valley Maples: At Peak (75%)

Carson Valley Cottonwoods (Besides Cradlebaugh): Patchy (10%)

Upper Woodfords Canyon: Near Peak (70%)

Mid-Woodfords Canyon: Patchy (15%)

Lower Woodfords Canyon: Mostly still green

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