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 the last remaining 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. Located roughly 35 miles northeast of Reno, Pyramid Lake is property of and managed by the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. Known as one of North America’s most scenic desert lakes, recreational enthusiasts will take delight in the year-round opportunities the area has to offer. The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe is comprised of roughly 2,800 tribal members, all of who are direct descendants of the Northern Paiute people who have occupied the vast areas of the Great Basin for thousands of years. Pyramid Lake was designated as one of the first National Scenic Byways in the nation and was the first scenic byway that sits entirely on an Indian reservation.
Pyramid Lake is known for its Lahontan Cuttroat Trout as well as the Cui'ui, species that are native to the ancient historic Lake Lahontan, which can grow to trophy sizes. Although the largest LCT caught at Pyramid Lake was a whopping 41 pounds in 1961, fishermen are drawn to this fascinating lake for world class fishing, continuing to reel in 20+ pounders on a regular basis. 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 at the Pyramid Lake Reservation. In addition to the abundant recreational opportunities, visitors will be amazed with Pyramid Lake's vast and dynamic landscape. Surrounded by white tufa formations [also known as fresh water coral,] natural wonders made all the more surreal by the low-lying, muted desert vegetation.
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.
Reminder: Only Tribally authorized fishing guides and charters are allowed to offer excursions on the lake.
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.