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Sparks Marina Park and Helms Lake

Great Public Park in Sparks, Nevada

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Sparks Marina Park provides a wide variety of recreational opportunities to residents of Sparks and the entire Truckee Meadows region. The center piece of the park is 77 acre Helms Lake, providing one of the best public swimming holes in the area during the hot summer months. There is a playground near the swimming beach, restrooms, free parking, and a concession stand. The entire park is 81 acres. Park hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Available Activities at Sparks Marina Park

Sparks Marina Park offers residents and visitors with other recreation facilities besides the swimming area. You can hold family picnics and birthday parties, fish at the pier, take Fido to the dog park, stroll the paved path all the way around the lake, or just relax in a shady spot. This is a busy park, so please observe the general rules for using the park and path so everyone gets along and has a good time. To see the layout of the facilities listed below, download a map of Sparks Marina Park.

  • Beaches (2)
  • Picnic areas
  • Fishing pier
  • 2-mile walking path
  • Volleyball courts (2)
  • Playgrounds (2)
  • Concession Stand (seasonal)
  • Restrooms
  • Canopies (2)
  • Dog park

For information about renting a group day use area, call Sparks Parks and Recreation at (775) 353-2376. Other popular activities at Sparks Marina Park include scuba diving and boating (only electric motors are allowed). You must have a Nevada license to fish. Fishing is prohibited in swimming areas.

Helms Lake, Sparks Marina Park
Reflections in Helms Lake at Sparks Marina Park. Photo © Stan White

Events at Sparks Marina Park

Several special events are held at Sparks Marina Park during the year...

Location of Sparks Marina Park

The parking area and main facilities at Sparks Marina Park are located at 300 Howard Drive in Sparks, Nevada. The park and lake are on the north side of Interstate 80 and between N. McCarran Boulevard on the west and the big Scheels store in the Outlets at Sparks shopping center on the east. The easiest way to reach the parking lot is from N. McCarran on either Nichols Boulevard or East Lincoln Way.

How Helms Lake Came To Be

What is now Helms Lake in Sparks Marina Park used to be an industrial area known as Helms gravel pit. Over the years, enough tons of rock were scooped from the pit that it became about 100 feet deep. Plans to turn the area into a park with a modest lake were in the works when the big Truckee River flood of 1997 hit. Literally overnight, the Helms pit filled with around a billion gallons of water, creating the lake we enjoy today. An underground spring constantly adds an estimated 2 million gallons a day to the lake. The excess is discharged into the Truckee River in order to maintain the lake level. This keeps the lake fresh and clean for recreational use. For more on the history of the Helms pit, refer to "The Gravel Pit That Became a Lake" by Rich Moreno.

Swimming lagoon on Helms Lake at Sparks Marina Park, Nevada, NV
Swimming lagoon on Helms Lake at Sparks Marina Park. Photo © Stan White

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