The Sparks Marina is the jewel of the long-term redevelopment plans for the City of Sparks. In 1997, the former gravel quarry commonly referred to as the Helms gravel pit experienced flooding when the nearby Truckee River reached its highest recorded levels and jumped the riverbank, eventually reaching and filling in the 100-foot deep pit. The site had previously been given a Toxic Superfund Site designation due to petroleum chemicals from a nearby oil tank spill. The City of Sparks, which had planned a park for the site of the former pit, now had a large "lake," and soon built a city park around it. The "lake" is circled by a 2-mile multi-use path that is popular among walkers and joggers, complete with life-guard staffed summer swimming area, SUP rentals and classes, and a proliferation of expensive new real estate advertised as "Beachfront".
This former gravel quarry offers a year-round opportunity for kayaking and paddleboarding for those opting to go for a paddle within the Reno area.
Lined by a freeway on one side and a shopping mall on the other, this park is a far cry from the paddling opportunities in nearby Lake Tahoe, but if a quick trip out on the water is calling you, the Sparks Marina is probably the best and most central spot in Reno for stillwater.
Throughout the marina are a couple areas of interest, including a partitioned swimming area that has a sandy shore and operating snack stand and lifeguard tower during the summer. On the east side is a small dock for boats along with a retail store that offers SUP rentals and lessons. Further east is a tunnel that runs beneath the multi-use path and leads to a canal-like waterway between several of these condominiums. The marina can be a great spot to catch one of Reno's epic sunsets.
The main entrance is on the west side, where a turnaround in the parking area offers a spot to drop off gear before parking. All gear must be carried about 200 feet down a concrete path to the waterside. Bathrooms, water and trash are available in the park. All city ordinances apply. Life jackets are required.