Pyramid Lake promises a magical experience
There is nothing more magical than the drive to Pyramid Lake. Words like "awesome" or "breathtaking" do not fully capture the experience. Many people who discover Pyramid Lake for the first time describe a feeling of being completely at peace. This vast sapphire jewel nestled in the desert mountains is completely different from the Tahoe experience and must-see while in the Reno area.
Pyramid Lake is a component of the National Scenic Byways Program and is the only byway in the nation entirely within a tribal reservation. This route takes the visitor 37 miles along the shore of one of the largest lakes in the world and provides a unique opportunity to learn more about the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe.
The 300-foot-deep lake sustains a vast number of plants and animal life, including the famous Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, which draws anglers from around the world. Anaho Island, a National Wildlife Refuge, is the breeding ground for one of the largest colonies of American White Pelicans and a resting spot for other migratory waterfowl. The surrounding mountains are home to deer, antelope and bighorn sheep. A recreational paradise awaits you at Pyramid Lake where you'll find boating, fishing, swimming, hiking - not to mention sublime vistas - all only 30 minutes from Reno.
From Reno/Sparks follow the Pyramid Lake Highway (State Route 445) north approximately 30 miles.
Stop #1: Highway Viewpoint
Many people drive out to Pyramid Lake to peacefully soak in the amazing views, desert colors and even the remarkable silence. State Route 445 leads directly to a magnificent viewpoint. Get out of the car and don’t forget the camera. From this spot the Earth’s most spectacular tufa deposits are visible. Tufa is a rock composed of calcium carbonate that forms at the mouth of a spring from lake water, or a mixture of spring and lake water. Tufa deposits are found throughout the entire the lake.
And from this viewpoint it is obvious how the lake got it’s name. Explorer John C. Fremont (1845) named the lake after the pyramidal-shaped island that lies along the eastern shore. The Paiute name for the island is Wono, meaning cone-shaped basket.
Stop #2: Pyramid Lake Scenic Byway Visitors Cultural Center
The Pyramid Lake Scenic Byway Visitors Cultural Center features exhibits on the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe's history and culture so it’s a great place to continue an adventure. Here visitors can learn how the Paiute people hold this entire area very sacred to their culture. Visitors can purchase camping, boating and fishing permits at the center. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and during the summer, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays.
709 State Street
Nixon, NV 89424
Stop #3: The Pyramid Lake Fisheries
This is a great place to learn about fish husbandry and how the fisheries help to ensure high environmental standards for the lake's natural resources. The best time to tour the hatcheries is during spawning season, March - May; the fisheries are closed for tours between December-March. To schedule a tour, call the administration office at 775.476.0500.
Sutcliffe, Nevada 89510
Dunn Hatchery: 775.476.0510
Numana Hatchery: 775.574.0290
Stop #4: Anaho Island, a National Wildlife Refuge
Anaho Island National Wildlife Refuge is located near the eastern shoreline of Pyramid Lake. You will need a 4WD vehicle to drive the roads on this side of the lake. The refuge was established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913 as a sanctuary for colonial nesting birds and is the breeding ground for the largest colony of American White Pelicans.
Anaho Island is a part of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Indian Reservation, but is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System under an agreement with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. To provide a secure environment for these colonial nesting birds, Anaho Island NWR is closed to the public. Boating is prohibited within 500 feet of the island.
Boating? Fishing? Where do I buy a permit?
If you have extra time, you can also enjoy fishing, boating, jet skiing, overnight camping and 10-day camping at Pyramid Lake. Permits are available for purchase at the following locations:
Reno, NV 89510
Sutcliffe, NV 89510
29555 Pyramid Hwy
Sutcliffe, NV 89510