CARSON VALLEY, Nev. – While humans famously tend to vacation in warmer climates during winter, nature reflects a vastly different reality, especially in Carson Valley, Nevada, nestled between the Sierra Nevada and Pinon Mountain ranges and just 45-minutes south of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. In fact, bald eagles and other raptors follow herds of cows during birthing season in winter, swooping in and feasting on the afterbirth of newborn calves to gain the sustenance needed for a late-winter migration.
This means winter is prime time in Carson Valley to witness these majestic raptors in action — bald eagles, golden eagles, falcons, hawks and owls among them — as December through February is prime calving season in a valley known for its rich agriculture heritage. And as the circle of life is on full display between birds of prey and the cattle that dot the landscape amid the region’s abundant ranches, nature-lovers, photographers and birdwatchers gather to observe and document this annual wildlife buffet line.
Ready to experience Mother Nature in all her resplendent raptor glory? Eagle-eyed visitors can catch a glimpse with these Carson Valley experiences:
Make a Tour Guide Your Wing Man (or Woman!)
Whether you’re a nature-lover who wants to watch this flight of fancy for fun or a photographer ready to catch potentially award-winning images, let an expert be your guide as you explore Carson Valley’s sweeping landscapes. The region abounds with peaks and valleys from which to spot the raptors’ return, making it a wise and time-saving decision to enlist the help of a professional guide. Explore a list of outfitters and tour guides here, then grab your camera and head out on a hosted adventure with a seasoned expert.
Flock to a Carson Valley Signature Event, Eagles & Agriculture
For more than 20 years, the Carson Valley has been home to Eagles & Agriculture, a four-day event hosted by the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce. The long weekend coincides with the late-January peak of calving season, with activities planned for Thursday, Feb. 8, through Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. Here are just a few event highlights:
Popular Falconers Dinner where guests get up close and personal with a variety of raptors
Ranch tours accompanied by expert birders and historians
Owl Prowl and historic barn tour
Wildlife photography classes with local professional photographers
The weekend event kicks off in Gardnerville, Nevada, and continues with scenic tours of the regal Carson Valley. For complete details, tour and reservations, visit online or call 775-782-8144.
Get Your Own Bird’s Eye View by Exploring Solo
You won’t just spot these graceful raptors during the namesake event. The birds of prey are banqueting, and cows are calving during the entire duration of the December-through-February timeframe, meaning you can visit when it’s convenient for you. The simple act of driving the roads that weave throughout the valley is likely to reveal a picture-worthy highlight (or two or 10!), no special equipment needed. Pro tip: Ranchers move their cow herds to pastures close to the roads, so if you see cars parked and people pointing, train your eyes to the skies (and land).
Get in touch with nature for an educational and enriching getaway — view the many lodging options here.
To learn more about Carson Valley — including destinations brimming with small-town charm like Genoa, Minden, Gardnerville and Topaz Lake — explore VisitCarsonValley.org or call 775-782-8145.
Straddling the California-Nevada state line 1.5 hours south of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, discover the four communities — Genoa, Minden, Gardnerville and Topaz Lake — that comprise spectacular Carson Valley. Beholding some of Nevada’s first and oldest establishments, visiting Carson Valley means authentically interacting with Nevada’s many histories while experiencing world-renowned outdoor recreation Nevada, and the American West is known for. From legendary forefathers who paved the way to Nevada statehood, to wild horse bands, eagles, and other wildlife, to premiere air sports, American Indian, Basque, and Western Ranching histories and cultures, and distinctive dining experiences that all exist here and only here, Carson Valley offers an adventure for everyone. For more information about lodging, special events, and more trip planning tools, go to VisitCarsonValley.org or dial (775) 782-2555. The Visitor Information Center is located within the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center at 1477 U.S. Highway 395 N, Gardnerville, NV.
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