Pyramid Lake


Pyramid Lake

Washoe County
  39.90102, -119.56626

"I fell under the spell of Pyramid and its lake many years ago. As a boy I wondered the possibilities beneath its ancient and impossible waters ... so austere and dramatically does it rest beneath the desert sun. A magically forsaken basin granted many secrets and stories. I doubt even this historic marker can complete this lake in words." -- Journal Entry, July 2007

Along SR 445 overlooking Pyramid Lake, 1 mile west of SR 446.

Original Date Visited: 7/14/07

Signed: Both lanes of SR 445

Marker History
[18] was originally placed in 1986 as a stone marker and it didn't take long for the region's biting cold and fierce winter winds to take their toll. Within five years the Stone face was in poor condition and its lettering was barely legible. By orders of NDOT and the Pyramid Lake Reservation (the information gets sketchy here), [18] was removed for re-facing. In 1994, NDOT remade it using the Standard issue and the tribe installed wind breaks and picnic tables at this scenic turnout specifically for the marker's re-debut. Talk about a cherry on top! This was also one of thirty markers that was re-vamped in 2015 in celebration of "Battle Born, 150th: A State Sesquicentennial" (as evident by the campaign's logo on the plaque).

  • Marker 18 plaque
  • The lovely lake view found at Marker 18
  • The most beautiful desert lake in America

Exact Description:
America's most beautiful desert lake is a remnant of ancient Lake Lahontan, which during the Ice Age covered over 8,000 square miles. Caves along its shores have revealed a prehistoric people with a well-developed community life.

John C. Fremont discovered the lake on January 10, 1844, and named it for the pyramid-shaped island it contains. From 1844 to the 1860's, the lake's history is an account of native people in contention with the white invasion of northwestern Nevada. With the Indian victory in the first battle of Pyramid Lake, May 12, 1860, more white men died than in any prior White-Indian engagement in the far west. The Pyramid Lake Reservation was set aside for the Indians in 1859.

The unusual calcium carbonate Tufa formations along the lake shore are formed by algae, by precipitation from hot springs, from concentration during drier periods, and from wave-action shoreline deposits.

The 41-pound world record size cutthroat trout was taken from Pyramid Lake, in 1925, by Johnny Skimmerhorn, a Paiute Indian. The lake is the home of the Cui-ui, a peculiar lakesucker now found nowhere else in the world.

Anaho Island, a national wildlife refuge, is probably the largest white pelican nesting colony in North America.


Nevada Superlative

Did You Know ...
Pyramid Lake is the largest natural lake in Nevada?

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Related Links & Markers

 [146] -- McDermitt Indian Reservation   [148] -- The Two Battles of Pyramid Lake   Pyramid Lake (Official Website) 

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