WHAT TO EXPECT: Located northwest of the University of Nevada, Reno, Rancho San Rafael Regional Park covers 508 acres, on both sides of North McCarran Boulevard. It includes the Wilbur D. May Arboretum and Botanical Garden, which offers opportunities for leisurely walks on well-maintained pathways through a variety of habitats in a compact area. North of McCarran the 1.1-mile Nature Trail makes a loop around a natural riparian area.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: Year-round
NOTABLE SPECIES: In recent years the Arboretum has become a reliable spot for wintering Purple Finches. Migrating and nesting songbirds are present in spring and summer. A variety of waterfowl are often found in Herman's Pond, where Pied-billed Grebes, American Coots and Ruddy Ducks have nested in summer. Great Horned Owls are often found along the Nature Trail, and Virginia Rails and Soras can be found in small patches of wetlands.
Rancho San Rafael Park
Rancho San Rafael Park - Nature Trail area
PRECAUTIONS: The park has increasingly become the focal point for many group picnics, weddings, and community-wide events including the Great Reno Balloon Races. It can be quite busy during special events but is relatively quiet most of the time. Hours vary seasonally, so pay attention to gate closure times.
HOW TO GET THERE
From the I-580 & US 395 interchange, drive approximately 1 mile west on I-580 to Exit 13 North Virginia Street. Turn right (north) on North Virginia Street and proceed 1 mile to the stoplight at North Sierra Street. To get to the Arboretum make a very sharp left onto North Sierra Street and drive 0.3 mile south to the entrance to Rancho San Rafael. Turn right into the park and enter the first parking lot.
To get to the Nature Trail go north from the stoplight on North Virginia Street 0.4 mile, through the McCarran Boulevard intersection, and turn left into the entrance to the Reno Sports Complex. The signed trailhead is located at the northwest corner of the ballfield parking lot.
San Rafael Park Trail Map
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTES
Arboretum & Herman's Pond: From the Arboretum parking lot, walk northwest to the Ranch House and the path to its left (restrooms), which leads to the arboretum. Explore the trails in this main section of the arboretum and park. Bird the riparian area on the east side of the park, where a small wooden bridge leads to the higher sections of the arboretum. Continue west on this path to Herman's Pond. Here you can continue past the pond or turn left back into the Arboretum. Just beyond the pond is an area of restored wetlands where Sora and Virginia Rails can be found. The path continues through open meadowland and the McCarran Tunnel under North McCarran Boulevard, eventually connecting with the south end of the Rancho San Rafael Nature Trail.
San Rafael Nature Trail: This established, easy to moderate 1-mile interpretive loop trail lies within Rancho San Rafael Regional Park north of the main section. Long-eared and Great-horned Owls and accipiters are often found along this trail. To access the trailhead by vehicle, backtrack through the park entrance to the stoplight on North Virginia Street. Turn left (north) on North Virginia Street. Drive 0.4 mile, through the McCarran Boulevard intersection, and turn left into the entrance to the Reno Sports Complex. The signed trailhead is located at the northwest corner of the ballfield parking lot.