Helms Lake at Sparks Marina Park
Please Note 12/7/15: Due to an unforeseen unique biological anomaly, the Sparks Marina is currently experiencing some die-off of fish. This event is attributed to a “turnover” of the lake’s water due to the recent cold snap. Lake turnover can occur when there is a drastic change in weather and the layers of water with noted temperature differences begin to mix together, and when water that has been sitting at the bottom of the lake begins to mix with the layers of water above it. This can have an effect on a fishery such as the Sparks Marina. The weather can cause dissolved oxygen levels to dip too low to sustain fish life, similar to what the Marina experienced in December 2013 and 2014 when there was a complete die-off of trout, catfish and bass caused from low oxygen levels in the water.
The City is working with Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) officials and scientists at UNR to monitor oxygen levels to better understand the problem and possible remedies. The impact of the low oxygen levels is dangerous to fish only. The water continues to be safe for dogs and people and there are NO public health or safety concerns at the Marina. The water in the Sparks Marina is tested routinely. The body of water is a 77-acre fresh water lake and is replenished daily from groundwater. The City pumps on average 2.5 million gallons of water from the lake on a daily basis.
About the Marina
With walking paths, trees and sandy beaches surrounding a 77-acre lake, the Sparks Marina Park (download map) located at 300 Howard Drive is a great place for an outing! The Marina contains an estimated 1 billion gallons of water with a naturally occurring aquifer that replenishes the lake with 2 to 3 million gallons of fresh water daily. All this water is put to good use for recreational activities from windsurfing and sailing to swimming and scuba diving to fishing and boating. Additional activities and facilities include a lineup of special events, a dog park, volleyball courts, playgrounds, picnic areas, and showers. A concession stand is also open during the summer months.
For everyone's safety and enjoyment, please follow the rules posted at the facility. You can also download the Multiple Use Rules here. Overall, respect for each other, common courtesy and following the "rules of the road" will go a long way toward a positive visit/experience. If you have questions or concerns regarding the park, a Park Ranger can be contacted at 775.691.9130 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. If a non-emergency occurs and the Park Ranger is unavailable, call the Sparks Police Department at 775.353.2231. For all emergencies call 911.
Park Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
I-80 east to McCarran Blvd. exit. Head north on McCarran Blvd., turn right (east) on Nichols Blvd. Free parking is available to the north and south of the roundabout at Nichols Blvd./Howard Drive.
Just east of the marina stands Outlets at Legends, Sparks' newest shopping and entertainment destination, measuring 1-million square feet! To the west of the marina stands Western Village Inn and Casino, which houses three restaurants and a casino. Visitors can also enjoy the beauty of the marina from businesses overlooking the water, such as Anchors Bar & Grill.
- Beaches (2)
- Picnic areas
- Fishing pier
- 2-mile walking path
- Volleyball courts (2)
- Playgrounds (2)
- Concession Stand
- Canopies (2)
- Dog park
- The Marina contains an estimated one billion gallons of water.
- Approximately 2 to 3 million gallons of water enters the Marina daily.
- Average depth is 60 feet, with the deepest point being approximately 120 feet.
- The average temperature of the deepest parts is in the 40's all year around, while the shallow areas will heat into the 70's during the hot summer months.
- The park spans 81.01 acres.
Swimming, fishing, picnics, restrooms, showers and walking path are all ADA accessible. If you have a disability and cannot hand-launch your vessel, please call 691-9130 or 353-2376 prior to your arrival.
Note: An All-Terrain Wheelchair is available for use by people with disabilities at the Sparks Marina Park. This unique piece of equipment will allow equal access to the sandy beaches and water with some personal assistance. Please call the Park Ranger office at 691-9130 for reservation and usage information.
Recreational swimming is permitted in the designated swim area at the north beach only (weather permitting) during the summer months. Check back for the 2016 season.
In the case of an emergency, call 911.
• Children under eight years of age must have an adult with them in the designated swim area at all times. Keeping your child within an arm's length is a good policy to follow.
• Toys, rafts, noodles, etc. cannot be used in place of swimming ability or for water safety purposes.
• Groups of 25 or more must make a reservation.
• Shade areas are first-come, first-served unless they are rented.
Fishing - Fishing hours are one hour before sunrise to two hours after sunset. The daily possession limit is three game fish of which not more than two may be black bass. Use of live bait fish is prohibited. Catch and release fishing is encouraged with the use of artificial flies or lures with only one barbless hook (fish must be returned to the water unharmed). Please take your fish home to clean them. Fishing is regulated by the State of Nevada Regulations and is prohibited in swimming and diving areas. Fishing regulations are available where fishing licenses are sold as well as at the agency listed below:
State of Nevada Division of Wildlife
1100 Valley Road
Reno, NV 89512
Scuba divers must check in with the Park Ranger before and after diving. Scuba diving alone is prohibited. Scuba diving is prohibited near the family swimming area. A scuba diver flag must be displayed at all times a diver is in the water. Boats involved in tethered scuba-diving activities must display an Alpha flag. Only certified divers or students with a certified instructor are permitted to dive. All scuba classes must be approved by the Parks and Recreation Department.
Only boats without motors or boats with electric motors are permitted in the park. Operation of all boats must be in compliance with all State of Nevada and United States Coast Guard boating statutes and regulations. Docking of water vessels is permitted at the hand launch beach only. Life preservers are required equipment for anyone boating. Information on lifejacket requirements is provided in the Nevada Boat Act.
The Sparks Marina Lake is continuously recharged with fresh filtered water from an underground aquifer. This process is similar to an artesian well and produces a water quality that exceeds standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for recreational use. The lake is monitored regularly to ensure excellent water quality.
For more information about the biological and chemical testing that is being performed on the lake, contact the City of Sparks Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility Laboratory at 861-4145.
Free Speech Areas - click here for map
Keeping the Park Safe
To keep the Sparks Marina a safe and inviting place to visit, the following should be observed:
- Please do not distract the life guards. Questions should be directed to the guard office or ranger staff. Rangers monitor the facility from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
- Parents must watch their children at all times. Keeping your children within arm's length is a good policy to follow.
- Toys, rafts, noodles, etc. cannot be used in place of swimming ability or for water safety purposes.
- Dogs must be on a leash at all times and are prohibited in swimming areas (except for the Dog Park).
- Glass containers, alcohol and fishing are not permitted on the beach.
- Gas barbeques only - no charcoal allowed.
- Feeding the waterfowl is prohibited.
- Groups of 25 or more who wish to swim need to call ahead (353-7879) to make a reservation.
- Shade areas are first-come, first-served unless they are rented.