You are here

28 May 2023
Related Items: 
Spring in Tahoe
Springtime The Roar of the Truckee River in Tahoe

By Tim Hauserman

A few days ago I took a stroll across Fanny Bridge and gazed at the dam that releases water
from Lake Tahoe into the Truckee River. Just one of the gates was open, letting out a modest 70
cfs (Cubic Feet per Second). The next day I took a drive to Mayberry Park, a few miles west of
downtown Reno and rode my bike along the river to downtown. Once it got to Reno, the Tahoe
City trickle had become a roaring torrent.

The ride between Mayberry Park and downtown Reno passes by a number of city parks,
crosses the river once (or twice with a quick side trip), before reaching the kayak park right
downtown. After my ride, as I was putting my bike in my truck I noticed the Tahoe Whitewater
Tours van and trailer.

Waiting for a rafting trip to disembark at the park was long time whitewater tour owner Mike
Miltner. A few years ago I enjoyed a wild river ride with Tahoe Whitewater Tours from just below
Boca to a put out in the little burg of Floriston. Now, Miltner told me the water was too powerful
to float through the narrow canyons upstream of Floriston, so they came and started in Verdi
instead. He told me that it was 3600 cfs at Mayberry Park, down a bit from around 3800 cfs at
Farad upstream (the difference was some water was diverted into the system of ditches that
traverse the ridges above western Reno.)

Nothing explains how much snow is melting in the mountains around Lake Tahoe, as succinctly
as seeing the difference in the river levels at Tahoe City and Reno. While the release of water
from the dam in Tahoe City is highly regulated, one of the reasons not much water is being
released right now is that it would flood Reno. Soon as the flows drop sufficiently from other
reservoirs and streams, the water master will release more water from Tahoe to prevent it from
topping over its 6229 feet maximum elevation.

If you are coming to Lake Tahoe in the next few weeks be sure to take the time to check out the
Truckee River, especially further downstream from Tahoe City. But stay out of the water. it is
very cold and moving fast enough to sweep you swiftly downstream. While recreating here also
be aware all that snow we received this winter means some trailheads are not open, and most
trails around the lake are still covered in deep snow.

Springtime The Roar of the Truckee River in Reno