Exploring Pyramid Lake in Nevada

Lake Features

Pyramid Lake, named for its cone-shaped formations in and around it, is an almost 30-mile-long haven sitting at the western end of Nevada. The Truckee River flows into Pyramid Lake. These

Pyramid Lake location in relation to surrounding landforms and cities

crisp, blue saline waters can reach a depth of 350 feet. During the summer, average water temperature is around 75 degrees Fahrenheit and below 40 in winter.

Pyramid Lake is approximately 40 miles northeast of Reno. Simply jump on the I-80 going eastbound and take Exit 18 northbound on NV-445. One can also access the lake taking NV-447 northbound and then NV-446 westbound. Our first visit to this natural lake was mid-June of 2015. We (husband, wife and dog) stayed there for the better part of a Friday, canoeing, swimming, traversing the west side of the lake on Pyramid Lake Road till we hit the northernmost point of the lake, and walking up and down the shorelines viewing a plethora of wildlife.

History of Pyramid Lake

Pyramid Lake is what is left over from ancient Lake Lahontan tens of thousands of years ago. This body mass once covered the bulk of Nevada. Once and still a land owned and inhabited by the Paiute tribe, the lake has a diverse history of exploration and tragedy. It was mapped and dubbed Pyramid Lake by John C. Fremont in 1844 and is the site of two major battles fought by Paiute and neighboring ally tribes against American settlers.

Much of the lake’s history and features can be experienced at the Pyramid Lake Museum and Visitor Center located at the southeastern end of the lake in Nixon, Nevada. Display cases house artifacts of the Paiute tribe and exhibits detail the events that made Pyramid Lake what it is today.

Lake Permits

Photo captured by infamous photographer Timothy H. O’Sullivan in the mid 1800s.

Permits are required to access Pyramid Lake and can be obtained a number of ways including online or thru a number of vendors spanning nearby cities and towns. Note that vendors may charge an additional fee on top of the designated rates. Permits are for non-tribal members and include activities ranging from day use (sunrise to sunset) to

Pyramid Lake Museum featured in the background.

fishing (adult and youth fees) to boating to camping (10-day maximum stay). Regulations are updated and posted for the general public to follow for the preservation of the lake and safety of others. There are some areas of the lake, like the infamous Pyramid Rock and Anaho Island, that are currently closed to the public due to recent vandalism. We purchased our day use permit at the Nixon General Store located at the corner of Highway 447 and 446, across the street from the Pyramid Lake Museum and Visitor’s Center.

Things to do at Pyramid Lake

Fisherman on a ladder
Birds, birds, everywhere!

As mentioned previously, there are a number of activities Pyramid Lake has to offer including boating and jet skiing. Fishermen sit atop ladders hopping to hook the world famous Lahontan Cutthroat Trout or one of the many fish populating the water. RVers and tent campers line the shore with folding chairs and makeshift fire pits. Bicyclists wander along the Pyramid Lake Road, with passing vehicles, taking in the surrounding sights and sounds. Bird watchers observe the many white pelicans swooping high and low amongst other birds like California gulls and blue herons.

Take heed, the weather at Pyramid Lake is very unpredictable. High winds can mean unfortunate circumstance to water enthusiasts. Stay aware and alert of weather in the area.



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2 thoughts on “Exploring Pyramid Lake in Nevada

  • January 18, 2018 at 12:03 PM

    hey how was the diving into the lake I don’t remember what you said about it . forgot talk about lost military jet in the lake .take care sam a. good article though

    • January 18, 2018 at 2:46 PM

      Hey Sam! Thanks for reading and commenting:) We hope you guys are doing well!!! Our first workamping co-workers! Good point about the jet! We never did dive Pyramid Lake…just snorkeled. We would have liked to camp there. It was very beautiful there!


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