The perks of parks: New and notable for 2024: adaptive sports, upgraded kids’ spaces, a new pool complex and more! 

As the summer months arrive, our community comes alive with children playing, dogs being walked, flying discs in the air and the aroma of barbecue. Our local parks and open spaces offer opportunities for all of these activities, along with walking, bike riding, swimming and picnicking.  

But this is all not only for the sake of fun and games. Research from the National Recreation and Park Association finds that parks promote health by serving as an ideal venue for physical activity, helping to reduce obesity and the risk of numerous diseases. Additionally, parks can bolster social connections, improving mental health—and they help protect residents from the growing threat of climate change via their greenways.  

Local parks offer a range of affordable and convenient ways to be outside, enjoy fresh air and improve your health, all while creating fun memories.  

Here’s what’s new and notable in our region’s parks this summer. 

Dive into new amenities in Reno 

According to Danny Gleich, recreation manager for the city of Reno’s 87 parks and recreational facilities, the most noteworthy news in city parks is the planned August opening of the Moana Springs Community Aquatics and Fitness Center, at Moana and Baker lanes. This state-of-the-art, $52 million, 52,000-square-foot facility will feature three pools, a lazy river and a dedicated fitness center, adding much-needed capacity for swimming lessons, high school and club sports, and special programming for seniors and youth. 

In another effort to promote physical activity in Reno, Brodhead Park and Damonte Ranch Park each have a new fitness court for people 14 and older, of all abilities.  

Many parks also have sports facilities like tennis courts, basketball courts and playing fields where you can get in a game. Youth-focused activities will also get a boost this year via a new $3 million playground at Teglia’s Paradise Park. This new area includes two play structures—one for children ages 2-5, and another for ages 5-12—along with an inclusive merry-go-round, zip lines and a ninja-style fitness course. The park also has new picnic tables, sidewalks and restroom facilities. 

In an effort to improve access and utilization, the city has also created the Rolling Recreation Center, a trailer slated to visit each ward twice per month, offering yard games, basketball, football, table tennis, cornhole, glow-in-the-dark night games, telescopes, Nerf guns, Jenga, dodgeball, video games and other activities. It also offers a kids’ summer meal program in partnership with the Food Bank of Northern Nevada. Gleich said that the intention is to engage community members who are underserved and/or without adequate transportation. 

Learn more about the city of Reno Parks and Recreation Department’s facilities and offerings at www.reno.gov/government/departments/parks-recreation-community-services. 

Try adaptive sports in Sparks 

According to Emily Pate, of the Sparks Parks and Recreation Department, the 60-plus parks and recreation facilities in the city will include a full slate of activities, including sports leagues, camps, aquatics, arts and community classes. There’s a particular focus on seniors, kids and disabled or at-risk visitors. 

Sparks in hosting the 19th annual Mark Wellman Adventure Day and Abilities Expo at the Sparks Marina Park on Sunday, June 2. This free event encourages people with disabilities, as well as their friends and families, to try hand-cycling, kayaking and rock-climbing using adaptive equipment. The event’s namesake, Mark Wellman, a two-time Paralympian and disability advocate, will be on hand to discuss his passion for the outdoors and assist participants with scaling a portable climbing wall. 

The Sparks Marina Park, a perennial favorite gathering place for the community, also boasts repaired and refreshed pathways and play equipment.  

Learn more at www.cityofsparks.us/rec_home. 

Recreate, listen or learn at a Washoe County park

The Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space department is also getting in on the summer fun. With more than 10,000 acres of open space, 49 parks, an arboretum, a trail network, athletic fields, golf courses and campgrounds, the county offers almost limitless opportunities to get active.  

New amenities and programs for 2024 include fitness courts at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park and South Valleys Regional Park, and a Junior Ranger program hosted at several locations for youth in grades K-8. 

Katie Koerner, recreation coordinator for the county, said there are other ways to engage besides physical activity. These include music programs at the Lazy 5 Regional Park and the Robert Z. Hawkins Amphitheatre, and Programs on the Porch talks on topics such as wild horses and historical figures at Bowers Mansion. 

For more information, visit www.washoecounty.gov/parks.