Pyramid Lake

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One of the most fascinating lakes in Nevada shimmers like a mirage out of the stark surrounding desert landscape, with its defining pyramid-shaped island rising dramatically out of the water. The unusual saltwater lake known as Pyramid Lake is named for its notable rock formation, which sits just off the eastern shore.

Pyramid Lake is a remnant of the ancient Lake Lahontan and is entirely enclosed today on the Paiute Indian Reservation. A geographical coincidence preserved this segment of Lake Lahontan, which today measures roughly 15 miles by 11 miles with a depth of 350 feet. Pyramid Lake is known for its Lahontan cuttroat trout, a species native to the ancient historic Lake Lahontan, which can grow to trophy sizes, and its incredible landscape. The lake is surrounded by enormous white tufa formations, natural wonders made all the more surreal by the low-lying, muted desert vegetation. Fishermen cast from boats and the shore, but water sport enthusiasts are drawn to Pyramid Lake as well.

Fishing and recreational activities play a large role in the economy on the Pyramid Lake Reservation. Guided lake excursions are available from tribal members only, while permits are required for fishing, day use and overnight camping at the lake, which is considered one of the tribe’s most valuable assets. Visitors to the lake will also find the Pyramid Lake Visitor Center, which houses a museum depicting the region’s natural history and sharing tribal culture.

Fishing on this high-desert lake can be surreal. The dark blue waters of the 27-mile-long lake located on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Indian Reservation are surrounded by giant, white tufa formations and low-lying desert vegetation. Anglers here are drawn to the Lahontan cutthroat trout. Anglers fish from boats and from shore. Fishing from aluminum ladders is a popular technique. Only tribal members are allowed to offer guided excursions on the lake.

Getting There: From Reno and Sparks, take State Route 445 north (Pyramid Hwy.) 31 miles to Sutcliffe on the lake or take I-80 east 30 miles to the Wadsworth exit and follow State Route 447 for 16 miles to the southern tip of Pyramid Lake.

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