Carson City makes a great day trip from Reno. Just a short 30-minute drive takes you to the capital of Nevada, a modest town, named after the famous legendary trapper, scout and explorer, Kit Carson.
Steeped in history, Carson City sits on the eastern edge of the Carson Range, a branch of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and was once the epicenter of a massive silver strike in the mountains to the northeast called the Comstock Lode and the original hub for the Virginia and Truckee Railroad.
With so much to see, the best way to explore Carson City is by following the Kit Carson Trail, which was a 2.5-mile walking tour that follows a blue line painted on the sidewalks of Carson City’s historic area. A Kit Carson Trail brochure is available at the Carson City Visitors Center.
At the start of the trail is the centerpiece of the city’s historic downtown district, the Capitol Building, constructed of locally quarried sandstone.
Governor’s Mansion Carson City
With its silver-colored dome that rises 120 feet above the ground, the building has served every Nevada governor except the first, Today the building provides visitors a glimpse of the past, through its historical exhibits.
Continuing on the trail is the Nevada State Museum, housed in the former Carson City Mint.
The museum is one of six Nevada State Museums operated by the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs. It offers replicas of early Nevada mining towns, original mint machinery, and coin displays, along with various exhibits and artifacts chronicling Nevada’s gambling history.
Also on display is the world’s largest exhibited Columbian Mammoth found in the Black Rock Desert, and the Spirit Cave mummy, which is the oldest North American mummy. The museum also hosts numerous non-permanent displays, which rotate regularly.
Within a short distance of the museum, is the Nevada State Railroad Museum, located at the south end of town next to the Visitors’ Center.
The museum displays a collection of restored historic Virginia and Truckee Railroad equipment, featuring locomotives and cars of famous Virginia and Truckee Railroad, many obtained from Hollywood studios, where they were used in movies and television.
The Virginia Truckee Railroad line is restored from the outskirts of Carson City to Virginia City. Enjoy magnificent views while traveling the historic route of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. This excursion is a 24-mile round trip. Travel time to Virginia City is 1.5 hours. Stop over time in Virginia City is a little over three hours.
Virginia City is only a 30-minute drive from Carson. If you’re a fan old west, then Virginia City is a must-see. Old West saloons of years past offer a bridge to another era while the museums, shops, and restaurants expand the experience. Ride a stagecoach, horse-drawn carriage, trolley, or the historic steam engine on the Virginia and Truckee Railroad.
Other Carson City points of interest include are the Stewart Indian School and the Sears-Ferris House – home of George Ferris, the inventor of the Ferris wheel.
A part of the Native American boarding school projects, the Stewart Indian School opened on December 17, 1890, and taught basic educational classes before closing in 1980. Today, the State of Nevada uses some of the remaining buildings for training and agency offices.