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Email Author: Ellen Hopkins
Story Posted: 5/7/2004 12:40 pm

A wedding with wildlife

If the two of you are animal lovers, you’re in luck. The Reno/Tahoe area is home to a spectacular array of animals - deer, elk, bighorn sheep, coyotes and bears (harmless, as long as you don’t get in between them and a well-stocked picnic basket!). You’ll also find smaller critters, including squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, skunks, martens, marmots, porcupines and raccoons, to name just a few. And the birds, from raptors to waterfowl, are countless.

Why not enjoy nature’s music as a backdrop to your wedding? A stroll in the woods will net you the scold of jays and the chatter of squirrels. All you have to do is offer to feed them. (Remember not to get too close, however. Squirrels and chipmunks carry plague.)

A beautiful spot, easily accessed, is the Washoe Lake Wildlife Viewing Area. Here, a short walk along a boardwalk carries you into the heart of a water-fed wetland, where nesting eagles dance in the sky and shorebirds, including herons and pelicans, dive for dinner. Come sunset, the deer wander down from the hills for water, and it’s a lovely sight. The viewing area is a short drive from a developed picnic area and campground, perfect for a post-nuptial party and/or outdoorsy honeymoon.

East of Reno, near Fallon, the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge offers another choice for a wedding with wildlife. Stillwater is home to more than 400 species of animals, including about 200 species of birds, including swans, egrets, herons, terns and double-breasted cormorants. The area is isolated, and the roads can become impassable in wet weather. Such weather is uncommon in spring and summer, however, and when conditions are right, the views of wildlife are spectacular.

If you prefer your wildlife safely enclosed, consider a wedding at Animal Ark. This wildlife sanctuary is located in the juniper-studded hills, about 15 miles northeast of Reno, off Red Rock Road. This unique mountain setting houses non-releasable wildlife and allows a unique opportunity to view these animals in natural habitat exhibits. Call ahead to arrange a sunset wolf howl for a truly unforgettable wedding. (775) 970-3111.

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