12 Fantastic Lakes near Reno, NV for Swimming, Kayaking, and Fishing

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Located on the Sierra Nevada Range and Great Basin border, Reno offers a diverse selection of lakes and reservoirs to play at.

There are undeveloped mountain lakes for peaceful gateways, busy alternatives with cabins and lodges, and remnants of the ancient sea that once covered most of Nevada.

Many lakes offer excellent campgrounds, too. So renting an RV for a lake trip is an excellent idea.

It’s nice to know your options. Check out what Reno has to offer!

Lakes near Reno:

  1. Washoe Lake
  2. Martis Creek Lake
  3. Boca Reservoir
  4. Stampede Reservoir
  5. Donner Lake
  6. Prosser Creek Reservoir
  7. Lahontan Reservoir 
  8. Pyramid Lake
  9. Frenchman Lake
  10. Lake Davis
  11. Sparks Marina Park
  12. Lake Tahoe
Lakes near Reno Nevada Comparison Table

1. Washoe Lake

  • Official Page: Washoe Lake
  • Distance from Reno: 23 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Swimming, Boating, Fishing, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping

Washoe Lake is situated 23 miles south of Reno and is extremely popular with water sport enthusiasts. Its most developed part is Washoe Lake State Park that offers plenty of facilities and is an excellent family destination.

The lake itself has two boat launching ramps at Little Washoe and North Ramp, making this the perfect spot for a day out on the water.

Fishing is also popular here, with bullhead and channel catfish, white bass, wipers, and Sacramento Perch all waiting to be caught. 

Rare waterfowl can often be seen at Washoe Lake too, and the lake is known for its wetlands, perfect for migratory birds. 

Naturally, this destination is ideal for every water activity imaginable, including kayaking, SUPs, wakeboarding, and jet skiing. And if you tire of the water’s fun, there are camping, picnic areas, and hiking trails to enjoy.

The only problem with this lake is its popularity; it can get busy pretty quickly. But those who like to explore will easily find peaceful spots for themselves.

Related: 9 Stunning Recreational Lakes near Las Vegas, NV

2. Martis Creek Lake

  • Official Page: Martis Creek Lake
  • Distance from Reno: 36 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Swimming, Fishing, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping

Martis Creek Lake is a 770-acre lake near Truckee. It’s managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and offers excellent recreational opportunities.

Although motorized boats are prohibited, the lake is fantastic for canoeing, kayaking, and SUPs and offers peaceful paddling along its marshy shoreline.

Also, fishing is popular for ‘catch and release’ at this lake, and you might catch a trophy-sized rainbow, brown, or lahontan cutthroat trout here.

Besides the lake, the surrounding area has many facilities, including picnic sites, campgrounds, restrooms, and the opportunity to spot wildlife. 

Local species include black bears, bobcats, beavers, porcupines, ospreys, red-tailed hawks, and mule deer, just to name a few.

If you’re planning a lake trip and looking for a quiet and peaceful setting, then Martis Creek Lake has to be one of the top options.

The only problem is that the lake is formed by a dam, and the water levels are not always high, so the lake’s size will vary.

3. Boca Reservoir

  • Official Page: Boca Reservoir
  • Distance from Reno: 28 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Swimming, Boating, Fishing, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping

Boca Reservoir is a popular spot for water sports near Reno. It is one of the most versatile destinations with every activity imaginable, yet it feels wild and primitive.

Water-skiing, motorized boating, and windsurfing (on the east shore, especially) are all possible. And swimming, SUPs, kayaking, and canoeing are popular, too. 

When it comes to multi-day trips, there are a couple of campgrounds around the lake. But, the facilities are limited to just restrooms, with no hookups or running water. Still, many folks rent RVs and spend weekends here.

Despite its primitive setting, the Boca Reservoir is easily accessible from I-80, making it an excellent option for all seasons.

Related: The 17 Best Trails near Reno

4. Stampede Reservoir

  • Official Page: Stampede Reservoir
  • Distance from Reno: 35 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Swimming, Boating, Fishing, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping

Stampede Reservoir is a 3,450-acre reservoir and one of the most exciting lakes near Reno. Besides the campgrounds nearby, Stampede Reservoir is left undeveloped, making it a wonderful place to reconnect with nature.

Water-skiing, motor boating, paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and swimming are just some of the things you can do here. Considering the sheer size of the reservoir, there is always room to enjoy the water.

The nearby campgrounds are the only developed areas with picnic tables, campsites, and toilets for the amenities, but that’s pretty much it.

Despite the number of fun activities here, there really aren’t as many visitors as you’d expect. In fact, most of the year, the traffic is relatively light around the lake.

Stampede Reservoir is the larger neighbor of Boca Reservoir. Both lakes are accessed from the same direction, which gives you an excellent choice of campgrounds and activities.

Related: 9 Stunning Recreational Lakes near Las Vegas, NV

5. Donner Lake

  • Official Page: Donner Memorial State Park
  • Distance from Reno: 35 miles (36 min)
  • Activities: Swimming, Boating, Fishing, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping

Donner Lake is a hugely popular destination located in Donner Memorial State Park. This area is far more developed than Stampede Reservoir, so if you’re looking for a lake surrounded by the hustle and bustle, then this is it.

In terms of activities on the water, you can swim, fish, boat, and take part in different water sports, so there’s plenty to do here. And if you ever tire of the water, Donner Memorial State Park has plenty of hiking trails, play areas, and picnic spots to enjoy.

For those who want a more relaxed day, China Cove Beach at Donner Lake is the perfect spot to unwind and sunbathe.

When it comes to fishing, the lake isn’t great, and there are better options nearby. However, it does get stocked and is known for kokanee trout.

And when it comes to accommodation, you are spoiled for choice. There are cabins, lodges, and multiple campgrounds around the lake; your level of comfort is only limited by your budget here.

6. Prosser Creek Reservoir

  • Official Page: Prosser Creek Reservoir
  • Distance from Reno: 37 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Swimming, Boating, Fishing, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping

Like many options on the list, Prosser Creek Reservoir is located near Truckee. It’s easily accessed from I-80 and has very few restrictions, making it another fantastic option near Reno.

There is plenty to do out on the water, including kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. Motorized boating is permitted, but there is a 10-mph speed limit to obey.

Campgrounds can be found on the west shore, and fishing is excellent, with rainbow trout, brown trout, and bass found in abundance.

The problems with Prosser Creek Reservoir are that the water level can drop very low, and the nearby campsites lack amenities. Besides that, it’s a fun spot for all the family with all the basic facilities you need for a few days’ stay by the water.

Related: The 17 Best Trails near Reno

7. Lahontan Reservoir 

  • Official Page: Lahontan Reservoir State Park 
  • Distance from Reno: 45 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Swimming, Boating, Fishing, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping

Lahontan Reservoir is located near Silver Springs and boasts 69 miles of shoreline, making it one of the largest lakes near Reno.

Day trips are popular, but there are plenty of camping opportunities around the shoreline, so it’s worth considering staying a few days to make the most of the area.

Water-skiing, boating, and fishing are all popular, and a canoeing day trip from Fort Churchill back towards the lake via Carson River is the one that water enthusiasts will love.

One of the most developed parts of the lake is the state park on the northern shore, near the dam. The facilities here include showers, restrooms, boat ramps, and campgrounds. Apart from that, the lake is very wild and primitive. 

The lake’s undeveloped setting will be advantageous for some people while others will find it too baren. However, when visiting, one thing to consider is that the water level can drop significantly here, reducing the lake to a puddle.

Related: 9 Stunning Recreational Lakes near Las Vegas, NV

8. Pyramid Lake

  • Official Page: Pyramid Lake
  • Distance from Reno: 37 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Swimming, Boating, Fishing, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping

Pyramid Lake is one of the largest natural lakes in Nevada, covering over 125,000 acres. 

It is an essential part of Native American history and is still owned and managed by the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe today. There’s even a museum and visitors center explaining the importance of Pyramid Lake to the Paiute Tribe for thousands of years.

Anglers from all over the country flock here for the trophy and record-breaking catches. A 41-pound Lahontan cutthroat trout was caught here, and although this is rare, 20-pound catches are considered the norm.

Because Pyramid Lake is so historically significant, it’s not as developed as it could be. There is a selection of campgrounds on the western shore and a few lodging options in Sutcliffe, but that’s pretty much it.

One drawback is the need for camping and recreational permits. Yet, this supports the tribe and keeps crowds away. So, if you are looking for more than just swimming and kayaking, Pyramid Lake is an excellent choice.

9. Frenchman Lake

  • Official Page: Frenchman Lake
  • Distance from Reno: 42 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Swimming, Boating, Fishing, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping

Frenchman Lake has a 21-mile shoreline and is one of the best recreation lakes near Reno. There are five campgrounds nearby, two picnic areas, boat ramps, and fishing spots to enjoy.

Swimming, boating, fishing, water-skiing, jet-skiing, camping, and hiking are all popular here, and it’s a well-developed area that allows you to explore safely and confidently.

Another fantastic thing about Frenchman Lake is that it’s open year-round. In winter, traditional summer activities change to ice-fishing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.

It’s the top-rated water destination near Reno, with complaints hard to come by. It’s a safe bet when it comes to choosing a lake trip.

Related: The 17 Best Trails near Reno

10. Lake Davis

Lake Davis
  • Official Page: Lake Davis
  • Distance from Reno: 58 miles (1h 10min)
  • Activities: Swimming, Boating, Fishing, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping

Lake Davis was specifically created in 1967 for recreational reasons, and today it’s still one of the most popular spots to enjoy water activities near Reno.

Boating, fishing, and swimming are all permitted on the lake, but jet-skiing and water-skiing are not. And, rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and SUPs are popular ways to explore the lake’s unique shoreline.

While fishing, look out for rainbow, brown, and brook trout, as well as brown bullhead, largemouth bass, and pumpkinseed that the lake is known for.

The surrounding recreational areas have four campgrounds, picnic spots, restrooms, and even a rustic family cabin on site available for hire that sleeps ten people.

Overall, Lake Davis is one of the most scenic and fun lakes near Reno, and it certainly deserves its place on the list.

Related: 9 Stunning Recreational Lakes near Las Vegas, NV

11. Sparks Marina Park

Sparks Marina Park
  • Official Page: Sparks Marina Park
  • Distance from Reno: 5 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Swimming, Boating, Fishing, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Walking, Scuba Diving

Sparks Marina is a park area with a 77-acre lake located in the neighboring Sparks. Despite the urban setting, there are plenty of activities here, and it’s all on the doorstep.

The park surrounding the lake has plenty of walking trails, restrooms, playgrounds, and picnic areas to enjoy. There are even two volleyball courts, something that’s hard to come by in the wild.

Also, the lake is a popular fishing spot, has launching ramps for boating and paddling, and operates a seasonal beach area for swimming and sunbathing. 

Naturally, Sparks Lake doesn’t have that wilderness feeling, and trying to camp here will definitely raise some eyebrows. Yet, it’s close to home, meaning you can enjoy the lake and its activities in the evenings, or even during lunch breaks. 

12. Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe
  • Official Page: Lake Tahoe
  • Distance from Reno: 43 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Swimming, Boating, Fishing, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping

Lake Tahoe is hands down the best lake destination in America, let alone California or Nevada. It tops every chart and rating when it comes to water recreation. 

Surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountains, it’s the perfect spot for nature seekers, families, and summer and winter sports.

Time on the lake can be spent paddle boarding, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, or swimming, and North Lake Tahoe even offers rafting experiences on the Truckee River.

And in winter, the lake transforms into the winter wonderland with skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing activities, to name just a few.

But with popularity come crowds, and the demand pushes the prices sky-high. This is where Reno comes in; it’s the perfect base for exploring Lake Tahoe without overspending. Just use it as a day-trip destination!

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