"Pyramid Lake, Nevada" Pyramid by mcpangie

Pyramid Travel Guide: 11 reviews and 28 photos

Fremont's Pyramid

Pyramid Lake takes its English name from explorer John C. Fremont who "discovered" the lake in January 1844 from the eastern side where the pyramid-shaped tufa formation is most prominent.

Pyramid Lake in its entirety is located within the boundaries of the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation, and in fact at considering the lake cover 112,000 acres, that is about 1/4 of the reservation's area. The current residents of the area the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe at first glance seem to have accepted the English name willingly enough. In Nixon the high school is called Pyramid Lake High School, and was designed with a pyramid-shaped roof. Still, I can't help but wonder what the lake's real name is considering the Paiute's ancestors were in the area long, long before Fremont came along in 1844.

How To Get There

The drive to Pyramid Lake from Reno takes about an hour. You can head east on I-80 and take the Pyramid Way exit in Sparks, Nevada and drive up Route 445 and end up on the west side of the lake at Route 446 around Sutcliffe, Nevada. The other option is to follow I-80 as the interstate follows the Truckee River for about 30 miles and take the Wadsworth exit. There you can follow Route 447 to Nixon. At Nixon 446 can be taken along the southern shore of Pyramid Lake. Looking at a map, these highways form the basic shape of a pyramid. Quite a lot of the Pyramid Lake Reservation is open range, so be careful while driving. Route 447 continues north of Nixon, and allows visitors access to the eastern shore of Pyramid Lake via a 5-6 mile long dirt road to the Stone Mother and cove where Pyramid Island is located.

Tufa Formations

Besides being a beautiful lake, Pyramid Lake has a lot of interesting tufa formations to view. Tufa formations are calcium carbonate deposits formed at hot springs. As you can see in this picture, the Stone Mother is made up of a bunch of of bubble-shapes. Her basket is caving in on itself, the interior of the bubble hollowing out.

The Pyramid is also a tufa formation, and you can see looks a lot different.

The Stone Mother's island in the cove near Fremont's Pyramid reminded me of a Yup'ik berry picker from Bristol Bay. When I took this picture in July 2002, it was about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. At the time I was living in southwest Alaska, and it was almost as warm in Bristol Bay when I got home and people had given up on berry picking because the heat was drying up the berries.

Note: In 2003 it was no longer an island.

Anaho Island

This view of Anaho Island and the Pyramid is from the southern shore on Route 446 about 5 miles from Nixon.

Directly north of Nixon on Route 447 you drive up around a mountain and into a valley that is labeled a scenic byway for a good reason. It is beautiful land. At the start of January 2004 there was a light dusting of snow, and driving in the area at twilight the landscape was bathed in pinks. I saw the most dramatic meteorite that I've ever seen. It streaked across the pink-blue sky before disappearing and probably landing in the sage-coated hills to the east of Nixon, Nevada.

I assume that Fremont came at the lake from the Eastern shore. That is where the large tufa formation now named Fremont's Pyramid is located in a cove near the Stone Mother.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:World record cutthroat trout caught at Pyramid Lake in 1925 - 41 pounds.
  • Last visit to Pyramid: Jul 2002
  • Intro Updated Jan 30, 2004
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