Outside University: 23. University of Nevada, Reno

Reno, Nevada

University of Nevada, Reno.   

Think Reno and you may envisage a glitzy, gambling-heavy city whose northern-little-brother relationship with Vegas leads it to call itself “The Biggest Little City in the World.”

Remember, though, that the majestic Sierras are just beyond all that neon. Lake Tahoe, Donner Pass, the PCT, and the Truckee River are all less than 45 miles away. And the otherworldly Black Rock Desert (Burning Man’s sacred ground) is an hour’s drive.

With 79 percent possible sunny days per year and a trove of places to ski, hike, raft, paddle, sail, and tube, Nevada’s student body gets out a lot, a fact helped by the more than 20 classes that require fieldwork.

The high-caliber engineering program sends students to Great Basin National Park to study the possibilities for geothermal energy, and there’s a well-rounded set of environmental majors, including ecohydrology, forest management, and veterinary science. You can also take triathlon and marathon classes for credit. For fun, amble the hiking trails near the university.

On-campus amenities for the adventurous include a rock wall, a ropes course, and an affordable—but slightly limited—selection of rentals, including kayaking equipment and cross-country shoes and skis. The ski and ride clubs (membership’s free but travels aren’t) take lots of trips, while the P.E. department teaches people to ski, snowboard, raft, kayak, climb, and survive. A scuba-certification class culminates in Lake Tahoe.

When you’re done taking risks in the wild for the day, you can go gamble it all in a casino.

CONTACT: (775) 784-1110, unr.edu
STUDENT BODY: 14,820 undergraduates, 3,184 graduates
TUITION: residents $6,176, nonresidents $19,771, room and board $10,868

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