renoMagLogoHead_p2i.jpg (10622 bytes)      Reindeer Lodge Owner Gary Schmidt.

What’s up with that?

The Reindeer puts the fun in funky. Mt. Rose business feeds weary travelers.

Written by Ron Cooney - Photos by David Torch

WHAT GIVES AN AREA ITS SPECIAL FLAVOR, its unique personality? Is it box stores, freeways, strip malls, fast food gorge-a-toriums?

Or is it those occasional quirky little corners that lend anywhere a taste of something different, and offer us a break from the world of the homogenized?

You’ll discover such a place on Mt. Rose Highway. It’s called the Reindeer Lodge. If you’ve driven the highway even once you might have thought, “What’s this, The National Rust Museum?” But the Reindeer Lodge is not a barnyard or a rest stop for Santa’s tired team. Reindeer Lodge is a restaurant, a free indoor/outdoor museum, and the retirement dream of owner Gary Schmidt.

Schmidt, formerly a Bay Area concert promoter and club owner, bought the property in the early 1970s. Under his ownership, the Reindeer became a venue for such socko acts as Country Joe McDonald, Elvin Bishop, Norton Buffalo, Greg Kihn, the Sons of Champlin, Cold Blood, and Hot Tuna.

Today, it’s a place for the hungry, the thirsty, and the curious to stop for a cold one and a tasty Buffalo burger on the way up or down the mountain. It’s also a resting place for weather-beaten farm wagons and ore carts, rusting plows, a 1923 Maxim fire engine, and an outhouse (non-functioning). In winter, the Reindeer rents (non-antique) snowmobiles. In summer, it displays the world’s largest collection of chain-saw art.

Schmidt’s future plans involve using the Reindeer Lodge as a venue for concerts that will be digitally recorded and marketed as DVDs. The lodge itself still will function as a place for food and drink, maintaining its normal business hours, which are, according to Schmidt: “Whenever the hell we feel like it!”

The Reindeer Lodge All Seasons Resort 9000 Mt. Rose Hwy. 849-9902

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