Pyramid Lake, Nevada

An Oasis of Sorts

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Reno, Nevada is known for Lake Tahoe nearby, but Pyramid Lake deserves just as much attention, if not more. Located on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s Reservation, the first thing you’ll notice as you approach it is how stunningly blue it is. The pyramid-shaped rock that gives the lake its name, though closed to the public, can easily be seen from most vantage points.

So how exactly did a giant lake wind up in the desert?

Pyramid lake is what’s left of the ancient Lake Lahontan, which covered much of what is today northern Nevada, as well as parts of California and Oregon, over 10,000 years ago. Unless you’re an enrolled member of the Paiute Tribe or have special permission, the proper way to access Pyramid Lake is to drive to the western side, which hosts the marina and RV park (see map point above), and check in at the Ranger Station adjacent to the marina. A permit for swimming for a day costs $10 (well worth it). Those who want to fish, boat and camp must procure additional permits, information about which can be found here.

From the marina, you can find a number of public beaches along the lake’s southwest side (maps provided at Ranger Station).

If you have time and would like to learn more about the Paiute people and their history, you can visit the Pyramid Lake Museum and Visitors Center in nearby Nixon, Nevada.

IMG_5803 (1)You can see the pyramid-shaped rock (focal point) that gives this lake its name.

Remember, Pyramid Lake has the undeveloped beauty that Lake Tahoe lacks–and that’s on purpose. The Paiute Tribe goes to great lengths to maintain this natural wonder. The Reservation is home to over 2,600 enrolled Tribal Members, so please treat this as their home and enjoy responsibly. The views while swimming are more than worth the trip to get there.

Special thanks to the Paiute Tribe for assisting with this article and allowing UW to visit.



Official Pyramid Lake websites

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