Local parks great place to celebrate Labor Day

Many will drive to the state's recreation areas to camp and hike.

There should be plenty of room at Washoe Valley's Bowers Mansion Park, according to Wayne Keysor, district ranger for Washoe County Parks Department.

"It won't be deserted, but it probably won't be as busy as a typical weekend in July," he said. "School's in session and the pool at Bowers closed last weekend. Monday should be busier than Saturday or Sunday, but we don't expect the park to fill up."

Located on the grounds, Bowers Mansion is the historic home of Comstock magnates Sandy and Eilley Bowers and will be ready to give tours, leaving every half-hour from 11 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

For hikers, the Ophir Creek Trail head is located at Davis Creek Park, but the pond there is drying up and the fishing with it. Nevertheless, people are still pulling out a few trout, according to Keysor.

"The camp ground will fill up but probably not the day use area," he said. "People shouldn't be afraid of crowds."

Both areas can be used free. For information, call Slide Mountain District Headquarters at 849-1825.

Low water levels will mean fewer customers at Washoe Lake State Park, according to Jim Black, ranger with the Nevada Division of State Parks.

"We still get a lot of equestrian use and wind surfers, because they don't need deep water or a ramp to launch," he said. "But the water skiers and jet skiers aren't coming out. We might have a few fishermen, but we aren't expect big swarms of people and we still have a nice picnic area at the south end of the lake."

Day use costs $3 and overnight camping costs $11. Call 687-4319.

According to officials at the Humboldt Toiyabe Forest Service, camp sites tend to fill up early on Labor Day in the Sierra west of Markleeville, including Show Shoe, Kit Carson, Grover Hot Springs, Silver Creek and Hope Valley campgrounds.

"It's the last summer blast and everyone will be trying to take advantage," said Patty Hardy, Forest Service recreation specialist.

Most sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and cost $10 per night. Call the Humboldt Toiyabe Forest Service ranger station at 882-2766.

Lake Tahoe's Sand Harbor boasts 412 parking spaces and 66 spaces for boat trailers. Boaters should arrive by 9 a.m. and beach-goers by 11 a.m. to ensure a spot but there are no guarantees, according to Rick Keller, park ranger with Nevada State Parks.

"Visitation over Labor Day weekend has grown dramatically over the last couple of seasons," he said. "But lake levels are dropping quickly and this will probably be the last weekend boaters can use the dock."

Call Sand Harbor at 831-0494.

About 282,200 Nevadans will travel 50 miles or more during the extended weekend, 80 percent of those by car and 16 percent will fly, statistics only slightly lower than last year's, according to AAA Nevada.

"The recent financial problems in the airline industry, along with the one-year anniversary of 9/11, probably caused some travelers to explore the options of rail or bus travel," said Lisa Foster, spokeswoman for AAA. "But with airlines cutting fares, gas prices down and many hotels offering good deals, it's a little easier on the wallet right now."

Police will be out in full force looking for speeders and other drivers who are under the influence.

Despite reports of a lag in air travel, officials at Reno/Tahoe International Airport are expecting nearly 70,000 travelers this Labor Day weekend.


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