Located about 45 minutes northeast of Reno is Pyramid Lake. This lake is on tribal land and it the terminus point of the Truckee River which starts in Lake Tahoe. The drive out there is desolate and barren, that is until you reach the top of a hill and get a catch of the turquoise lake – she really is a desert oasis. Whether you are a Northern Nevada local, or visiting the area, if times allows, make the trip out to Pyramid Lake. And I’ve created this guide for you so you know what to expect and tips to ensure you have the greatest time.
Like I said, Pyramid Lake is on tribal land, and they have instituted a permit system. Not only do you need a permit for day use or to camp, but you would need separate permits if you want to launch a watercraft, fireworks or fish. Also, a regular state fishing license is not required at Pyramid, just the permit. Fireworks are usually purchased in nearby Nixon around. The 4th of July, but you will see people launching them all summer. The easiest place to acquire a permit is online, but you can also pick one up at the Visitor Center in Sutcliffe or at Crosby’s Lodge.
In the summer time Pyramid is known for boating, camping, your usual summer shenanigans. The rest of the time the lake is known for its world class fishing. Stop by Crosby’s Lodge and see pictures of the trophies people have pulled out of the lake. I also recommend stopping by the Reno Fly Shop. Talk to an expert and get tips on bait, and they might even recommend a few beaches to you. Speaking of beaches.
Where to Go
Visitors are only allowed on the west side of the lake, and check this lake out on a map because it is gigantic. They do have some designated beaches with pavement for cars and trailers, but the beauty of Pyramid is the ability to pick a dirt road and choose your own beach. Besides the pavement areas there are no designated campsites. While 4-wheel drive isn’t required, it is recommended. If you stay up top or on the hard packed dirt road, you’ll be okay. It’s when you want to bring your car right on the beach that it starts to get a little soft. Interesting fact – AAA cannot come out to the reservation. So if you get stuck you’ll have to call the tribal tow service.
The Natural Elements
Pyramid Lake is in the middle of the desert. There is no sugarcoating that. And the services are extremely limited. If you’re lucky, you’ll pick a beach that has a porta-potty. So prepare yourself for hash elements. Bring lots of shade to protect yourself from the sun, and bring heavy duty stakes for the ferocious winds. I have been going out the Pyramid for almost 10 years now, and we always experience some kind of wind. It usually takes place around sunset, but this last year the mornings were windy and the afternoons calm. The desert is also known for unexpected rain storms. If you are in a trailer or coming out for the day you won’t have a problem, but my friends and I go out there in tents, and we have to prepare for everything. The wind can be destructive. Also, if you don’t have a trailer, prepare yourself in case you have to go to the bathroom. You might have picked a location that doesn’t have a porta-potty, so you and your group of friends can designate a couple of bushes away from camp. There are no water services, so make sure you bring enough water, food and supply for the time you’ll be there.
This is the most important. Yes, the desert can be a little harsh sometimes, but that’s part of the adventure. Enjoy the lake, enjoy the warm sunshine and enjoy being with friends and family. My friends and I started a tradition of going out to Pyramid every July, and it’s been going on for about nine years now. It started with maybe a group of 8. We brought a keg, but forgot the tub to keep it on ice and had to dig a hole, lay tarp and put the ice on the tarp, then bury the keg. We also forgot a shade tent and had to string a tarp between two cars. We were 21. And now nine years later we’ve had as many as 25 people join us and have constructed a water slide the last 6 or so years (and that has seen significant improvement over the years too). It’s just been a lot of fun hanging out in the desert with your friends. Just check out my video and see for youself!
Have you been out to Pyramid Lake before? What was your experience like? Tell me in the comments below.
Until next time…