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Pyramid Lake in Nevada – Things to Do, Permits Required, FAQ

Pyramid Lake in Nevada – Things to Do, Permits Required, FAQ
Written by Derrick Riley
Last Update: August 14, 2023

Pyramid Lake is one of the most visited tourist and fishing spots in Nevada. People love to come here to see the beauty of the lake and take part in different recreational activities. Have you heard of the Great Mother? Even if you don’t, here’s something of interest: she is the one whose tears made up the lake!

Here’s a complete guide about how to visit the lake and what you can do while visiting the lake.

Pyramid Lake in Nevada

Located in Nevada, Pyramid Lake is covering an area of around 125,000 acres (15 miles long and 11 miles wide). This 350-feet deep from its deepest point lake is the hugest remnant of the Lahontan Lake. It’s found roughly 40 miles northwest region of the city of Reno, which lies in the Paiute tribe’s reservation.

This place has a spiritual value too. There are myths about a mother who lost her children and cried for so long that her tears formed the lake. She sat there for so long that she turned into stone. She was bestowed with the name of The Great Mother in legends. She is there on the eastern shore with her basket on one side in tufa form.

Tufa’s articles were said to be made between 13,000-26,000 years ago during the last Ice Age. Back then, the lake itself was one of the seven bodies of Lake Lahontan. The Pyramid and Walker Lakes are the only remaining bodies now. There’s also an island named Anaho in the middle of the lake.

What You Can Do When Visiting This Lake

1. Fishing

Lahontan cutthroat trout, Tahoe Sucker, Tui Chub, Cui-ui, and Sacramento Percha in this lake attract the anglers. However, the method of fishing is a little different than usual at the Pyramid. The fly fishermen need to get a little deeper without wading above their chest; that’s why they use ladders to get the desired depth.

Lake’s sandy floor is very unpredictable because of the falloffs. Therefore, that’s another reason to use a ladder. Some parts aren’t deep, not more than 100 yards, which makes it difficult for the angler to cast out the prey from the shore.

Ladders offer safety from the sandy floor, offer height for a better picture, and help in casting.

The season for cutthroat trout is from October 1 to June 30, but the season for Sacramento perch is always open 12 months a year.

2. Camping & Excursions

The lake is one of the best sites for a trip and camping. It has some 20,000 years old tufa models, from which one is The Great Mother’s. This article holds a special place in the heart of the tribal people because they have a spiritual affiliation with this.

For the guests, there is another fascinating place: a museum in Pyramid Lake Visitor Center. This museum compiles the natural history of the lake and adjacent tribes.

There are permits available for one day and three-day use. This lake is one of the valuable assets of the tribes and helps them strengthen their economy.

3. Weather & Climate

The weather changes mostly over 6-7 months. During the warmer months, the temperature roams between 76-91 degrees Fahrenheit. This period roughly starts from May or June and extends to October. In the colder months, the temperature changes between 54-68 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Boating

Boating is allowed in this lake throughout the year. The lake has outstanding beaches and picnic sites where the horizon will fascinate your imagination. Some of these zones are Bear Trap, Spanish point, Serrano, Tin cup, and Yellow bar. You can reach these sites only by boats.  These shores have considerable docks and reveal the unbelievable scenery of the lake.

The timing for the boat rentals is from 7 a.m- 3 p.m. The last rental boat goes out at 1 p.m, so make sure you get there before 1 p.m if you want to have an enjoyable time. Furthermore, if you have a personal boat, then you can be one hour late. Lastly, all the watercraft (maximum 150 boats and 50 jet skis) must be off the water by 4 p.m.

5. Swimming

Although it’s allowed, the water resources department warns the people about the risk of swimming in the water body. They have approved boating and jet skiing. There are blue-green algae that may irritate humans and pets. Hence, if it causes skin rash, eye irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, and flu-like symptoms, immediately stop swimming.

6. Photography

You can come here and enjoy the magical views, plus you can capture them on their phones. Here’s a list of those who can perform filing and photography without a permit; individual for personal or family use, electronic news media,  criminal court proceedings, students, travelers, and a few more.

Filming and photography are allowed within the boundaries of the lake only if you have the permit. First, you need to apply and collect a permit for filming and photography. Once you get the permit, you can perform black and white or color still photography which you may sell later. Similarly, this case is with films.

7. Bird Watching

Bird watching is another excellent recreational activity. There are numerous waterfowl in the winter that can mesmerize your sight. You will see almost six grebes’ species including Burrowing owl, Sage thrasher, and Black-throated sparrow as well. Moreover, you will see the pelican nests in spring and summer.

These above-mentioned names are just the highlights; you will find herons, chickadee, loons, and other birds too. Thus, don’t forget to bag your camera.

8.Lake Resort

This lake holds an important place in history with spiritual importance and receives a huge number of visitors every year. This is why investors have made beautiful resorts for visitors, so they could enjoy their visits properly.

The resorts are available for individuals, couples, or families. You can rent a room or an entire apartment: they all are available. You can easily browse websites where you can put the dates of your trip, the location where you want to stay, and then search. Afterward, a list of resorts will appear, and you can easily book one of your convenience from there too.

Permits Required for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Reservation

If you are planning to go there for fishing, boating, camping, or day use of recreational activities. You might need a permit, and here is the approximate permit pricing (almost double prices because of COVID-19 pandemic) which is effective from November 2, 2020, to onwards:

Pyramid Lake Use Permits

Here are the recreational activities day and 3-day permits:

  • For boating, the permit costs $26.00 for a day and $66.00 for 3-days.
  • For jet skiing, the permit costs $54.00 for a day and $136.00 for 3-days.
  • For day use, the permit charges are $22.00 for a day and $56.00 for 3-days.
  • For overnight camping, the permit costs $32.00 for a single day and $82.00 for 3-days of overnight camping.

Pyramid Lake Fishing Permits

Although the lake houses a lot of fish species, people usually are here for Lahontan cutthroat trout fishing. But you need a permit for fishing. Different packages of the fishing permits are available as per their needs.

  • For daily fishing, the price is $24.00, and to get the 3-days permit, you need to pay $62.00.
  • For the Second Rod permits, the pricing is the same. For daily, it’s $24.00, and $62.00 for 3-days.
  • For Youth (12-18) permits, the permit price is $12.00 for a day and $32.00 for 3-days.

Pyramid Lake Seasonal Permits

Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Reservation is not offering seasonal permits right now.  The decision is pending because of the COVID- 19 situation. The information about the seasonal permits will be uploaded as soon as given by the authorities.

Note: Military active; veterans; reserves; seniors of 65 or above; and non-PLPT tribal members can avail of a 10% discount.


Here you go! This was everything you need to know about the majestic Pyramid Lake in Nevada. So, what are you waiting for? Book your accommodations beforehand, pack your bags, and don’t forget to bring your cameras.


1. How much would it cost to visit Pyramid Lake in Nevada?

Ans. It depends on what you are there for. If you are there for one day, here’s the listing:

For Boating $26.00
For jet skiing $54.00
Day-long visit $22.00
For Overnight camping $32.00
For fishing $24.00
For second Rod $24.00

2. When to visit Pyramid Lake?

Ans. This decision is based on your purpose of going to the lake.  If you’re there to catch Lahontan cutthroat trout, then from October 1 to June 30 and likewise. The temperature from May-October fluctuates between 76 and 91 Fahrenheit. Whereas, in colder months it ranges from 54 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, you can see what suits you more and enjoy your trip to the legendary Pyramid Lake.

3. Is it safe to swim in Pyramid Lake?

Ans. Although the water resources department permits you to swim in the lake, it’s not safe if your body is allergic. The water contains cyanobacteria which are contagious for humans and pets. These bacteria can cause skin rashes, mouth ulcers, diarrhea, eye irritation, and cold or flu-like signs.

About the author

Derrick Riley

I’m Derrick in my early 40s, but planning to bag from every saltwater source in America. In practice, I’ve explored over a dozen bodies of water that hosted almost all of the saltwater game fish. My personal favorites are brook trout and striped bass though. I don’t mind catching bluegill and white crappie either.

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