Pyramid Lake Indian Reserve, Nevada


After visiting Virginia City, it was still too early to settle in for the evening in Reno.  So, I took a short side trip up to Pyramid Lake, a deep blue body of water that seems completely out of place, in the barren Nevada desert.

For an easy loop drive from Reno, take NV Rte. 445 (Pyramid Way) north, then Rte. 446 and Rte. 447, which returns you to I-80.

Even before you reach the lake, this is a beautiful desert drive, with lots of gentle curves and barren hills to keep things interesting.

Once you reach Rte. 446, hang a left and stay on Rte. 445 for just a few more minutes.  This will take you north along the side of Pyramid Lake, through a couple of Native American communities.  Just as on most reservations, the towns are a bit depressing, and it appears that the main source of income for residents is bait and tackle supplies.

There’s the lake.  The first thing you’ll notice (in person it’s even more striking) is the perfectly blue color of the water.  This is where the Truckee River ends up (the same river that feeds, then runs out of Lake Tahoe).

The pyramid is much smaller than I expected.  This is the view from the west side of the lake, zoomed in as far as I could with a 210mm lens (in other words, it’s pretty small).  Even though the pyramid wasn’t as imposing as I expected, it’s still a dominant feature on the lake, and visible from just about anywhere.

There are dozens of marked turnouts that allow you to leave the highway and get a closer look at the lake.  The only problem is, they’re all marked with stern warning signs, advising you to buy a visitor’s pass if you plan to set foot outside of your car.  A day-use pass costs up to $7, and a fishing permit will cost as much as $10 per day.  I did see tribal police patrolling, so if you choose not to buy a pass, be careful.

Note: This trip was first published in 2007.

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