Reno's Rancho San Rafael Regional Park

Multiple Attractions at Rancho San Rafael Park Near Downtown Reno

The Great Reno Balloon Race
The Great Reno Balloon Race. By Ken Lund from Reno, Nevada, USA (Great Reno Balloon Race, Reno, Nevada) [ CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Reno's Rancho San Rafael Regional Park encompasses 600 acres just northwest of downtown Reno. Rancho San Rafael Park includes acres of grassy fields, wetlands, natural areas, rentable picnic shelters, nature and walking trails, playground, and huge dog park. Rancho San Rafael Park is home to the Wilbur D. May Center, which includes the May Museum, May Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, and a restored ranch house that can be rented for events and meetings. Rancho San Rafael Regional Park is home to one of Reno's most popular events - the Great Reno Balloon Race.

What To Do at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park

Rancho San Rafael Regional Park has restroom facilities, four group picnic areas, individual picnic sites, trails for hiking and biking, a large dog park, the May Museum, and the May Arboretum and Botanical Garden. There are acres of fields for all kinds of activities. The north part of the park is on the side of Peavine Peak and is laced with hiking and biking trails. There is no fee to enter the park and there is lots of parking near both north and south entrances.

The dog park at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park is huge. If you want your pooch to have plenty of room to run, this is your place.

Events at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park

One of Reno's signature events, the Great Reno Balloon Race, takes place every September at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park. This is one of the largest hot air balloon festivals in the country and it's free to attend. You have to get up early to see the best stuff, but it's worth it.

Wilbur D. May Center

The Wilbur D. May Center is the legacy of this Nevada businessman, rancher, and philanthropist. It includes the May Museum, and May Arboretum & Botanical Garden. The old ranch house has been restored and is available for meetings and events.

The May Museum has a gift shop and features programs and exhibits throughout the year. The May Collection contains items brought to Reno from Wilbur May's many worldwide trips. The indoor Garden Court features a waterfall, ponds, and tropical plants. It is available for weddings, private parties, receptions, and other events. Hours change with the season and fees vary with the exhibits. Call the Museum at (775) 785-5961.

The May Arboretum & Botanical Garden is also open year-round, providing a quiet and beautiful place to walk and enjoy nature within the city. You'll learn about Nevada native plants and see other plants and trees from around the world. It is especially beautiful in fall. For May Arboretum information, call (775) 785-4153.

Location of Rancho San Rafael Regional Park

Rancho San Rafael Regional Park is at 1595 N. Sierra Street. The main entrance from N. Sierra Street is west of the UNR campus and takes you onto San Rafael Drive, which runs along the south side of the park. From this street, you can access the main features, such as the May Arboretum, May Museum, the playground, and various picnic areas. Other south entrances are from Coleman Drive and Washington Street. The north area of the park is reached from N. Virginia Street, north of McCarran Blvd. Turn in to the parking area where you see a sign for the Reno Softball Complex. The park office phone number is (775) 785-4512.​

To learn more, you can download the Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space Guide or pick up a copy next time you visit one of the parks.

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