By Charlie Johnston
The austere desert ying to Lake Tahoe’s majestic alpine yang, Pyramid Lake’s great beauty lies in its unlikelihood. The terminal destination of Tahoe’s only outlet, the Truckee River, blue-green Pyramid sits in striking contrast to the arid brown expanse surrounding it. One of the last remaining vestiges of ancient Lake Lahontan, 195-square-mile Pyramid is the largest lake situated entirely within Nevada.
The lake’s location within the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation has spared it from development with the exception of two small towns, Nixon and Sutcliffe on its southeastern and western shores, respectively.
Pyramid is one of Nevada’s most popular fishing destinations and home to the state’s largest population of native Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, found only in a handful of Nevada waterways. The lake’s other famous fish, the large Cui-ui suckerfish, is an endangered species found nowhere else in the world—and is subsequently off limits to fishermen. In 2010, the lake was named one of the top public fisheries in the world by Flyfishing & Tying Journal.
Winged wildlife are another draw to the lake, where Anaho Island National Wildlife Refuge is a vital nesting colony for thousands of American white pelicans. While the island is closed to the public, the birds congregate at the lake’s southern end, providing excellent opportunities to watch and photograph.
In addition to the world-class fishing and bird-watching, Pyramid is a favorite watersports destination, as evidenced by the hordes of boaters, jet-skiers, kayakers, water-skiers, and wakeboarders that ply its surface every weekend between May and October, and occasionally during colder months as well. Visitors vie for beachside camping spots along the lake’s western shore, which is also home to the first National Scenic Byway located entirely on tribal land. Camping, day use, and other permits are required for non-tribal members visiting the lake. The fees charged for such permits help preserve the lake and the unique wildlife that depend on it.
Campers and day-users have easy access to basic supplies in Nixon and Sutcliffe, and the Pyramid Lake Museum and Visitors Center in Nixon offers information on area activities as well as the history of the land and its native Paiute people.
For More Information
Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation
709 Hwy. 446, Nixon, NV
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Swing and Slice
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