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Pyramid Lake Scenic Byway

Basics
Length:
30.2 miles (48 km)
Time:
Two hours to drive (including backtracking) or all day to enjoy the Byway.
Fees:
A $9 day-use permit is required for camping, swimming, fishing, hiking, picnicking, and/or driving off-road.

Description

Pyramid Lake, with its sparkling waters and sandy shores, is like a bright jewel in the Nevada desert landscape. The Pyramid Lake Scenic Byway, beginning in Sparks, Nevada, and circling around the southern edge of the lake, will take you on a trip that will inspire reverence of the landscapes of the West. Famous for its unique natural tufa rock formations and eerily crystal-clear water, Pyramid Lake is not a typical recreational destination but it is certainly an extraordinary adventure.

Prepare yourself to be awed! The most interesting attraction of Pyramid Lake is not the lake itself, but its namesake, the pyramid-shaped rock formation jutting up out of the lake. This formation has inspired wonder in many, and continues to be one of the most photographed attractions of the Nevada landscape.

If you are interested in seeing some unique animal and plant life, Pyramid Lake is the place. As the lake is the only major source of water for miles, its shore provides habitat for deer, antelope, bighorn sheep, and migrating waterfowl. If you love fishing, Pyramid Lake is known for its large population of Lahontan cutthroat trout. Dip your line in from the shore for a relaxing day on the lake, or try your hand at fly-fishing, one of the most popular sports in the area.

Points of Interest

Points of Interest Along The Way

Anaho Island (NV)

Anaho Island, located in Pyramid Lake, is one of the only pelican nesting sites in North America. This National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1913 by President Woodrow Wilson. It is now maintained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Although it seems like this would be the perfect bird watching site, these birds need their privacy and visitors are not allowed within 500 feet of the island. Make sure to bring your binoculars if you want to watch the pelicans.

Directions

Located inside Pyramid Lake in the southeast end.

Anaho Island National Wildlife Refuge (NV)

The refuge was established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913 as a sanctuary for colonial nesting birds, primarily American white pelicans. Interpretive panels at pullouts along the Pyramid Lake Highway give visitors information about Anaho Island.

California National Historic Trail (NV)

Thousands of gold-seekers and farmers followed the California National Historic Trail in the 1800s, to the promise of a better life.

Directions

The California National Historic Trail runs along the east side of Pyramid Lake.

Carson City (NV)

Traveling near several of Nevada's byways will bring travelers to Carson City, Nevada's capital. This city is scenic in its own right, as it brings Nevada's history to light with its historic buildings and streets. Visitors will see the Nevada State Capitol building with its sandstone and Alaskan marble and experience sights from the past in museums and the Native American culture that was once prevalent in the area.

Directions

South of the byway off US Highway 395.

Dayton State Park (NV)

Dayton State Park marks the site of one of Nevada's first permanent settlements. The Carson River flows through the park offering the chance for fishing and bird watching. This state park is located some distance from the byway, near Carson City. Visitors driving towards or away from the byway may want to stop here to camp and explore one of Nevada's earliest settlements.

Picnicking, camping, and group use facilities are available. The Rock Point Mill, once used to process rich silver ore, was built in 1861. Remnants of the mill are still visible within the park.

Directions

Located in the town of Dayton.

Fallon National Wildlife Refuge (NV)

Fallon NWR was established in 1931 as a refuge and breeding ground for birds and wild animals. Visitors are allowed to visit the refuge and enjoy several recreational activities there. Biking, hiking, canoeing and even some hunting and fishing are allowed in the vicinity of the refuge. Quite a ways from the byway, the Fallon Wildlife Refuge may be a stopping place on your way to or from Pyramid Lake.

Directions

Located at the southern terminus of the Carson River.

Historical Marker 148 (NV)

A historical marker exists at this location because of two battles that took place between the Paiute warriors and white volunteer armies. On May 12, 1860, Northern Paiute warriors fought to defend their way of life against a volunteer army from Virginia City and nearby settlements. The battle, and subsequent retreat of the white army, began with a skillful ambush north of Nixon and continued along the plateau on the opposite side of the Truckee River continuing almost to the present site of Wadsworth.

On June 2, 1860, the second battle took place. A strong group of volunteers joined by regular US Army troops engaged the Indians in battle along the tableland and mountainside. Several hundred braves, attempting to allow their women, children, and elders to escape, fought with such courage and strategy that the US Army was held back until the Indians withdrew.

Paiute war leader Numaga, or Young Winnemucca, was described as a "superior man of any race" and only desired peace for his people.

Directions

South of Nixon on SR 447

Lahontan State Recreation Area (NV)

The Lahontan State Recreation Area surrounds a 17-mile long man-made lake with more than 69 miles of sandy shoreline. The area is a popular attraction for fishing, swimming, boating, and water recreation. The Lahontan Reservoir was named for the inland sea of which Pyramid Lake is an actual remnant. The reservoir is south of the byway off US Highway 50. Visitors are invited to try camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, or even swimming in the reservoir.

Directions

Located some 20 minutes west of Fallon.

Marble Bluff Fish Hatchery (NV)

The Marble Bluff Fish Facility is located on the delta of theTruckee River where it ends at Pyramid Lake. Marble Bluff is a fishpassage facility that aids the spawning of the endangered fish ofPyramid Lake: the cui-ui (chasmistes cujus) and Lahontan cutthroattrout. The fish are no longer able to access their old spawninggrounds because of the change in the lake's elevation in the lastcentury, as well as the dam. The facility houses a "fish lock,"similar to an elevator, that lifts the fish around the dam and upinto the river for spawning. Visitors are able to see the fishoutside in the months of April and May during the spawning runs. USFish and Wildlife also provide tours in this area.

Directions

Near Nixon on SR 447

Nixon (NV)

Nixon is the location of the Pyramid Lake Tribal Museum.

Directions

Located at the south end of Pyramid Lake off of SR 446 and 447.

Details

Length:
30.2 miles (48 km)
Time:
Two hours to drive (including backtracking) or all day to enjoy the Byway.
Main Roads:
NV-447 N and NV-446 W/Sutcliffe Hwy
Fees:
A $9 day-use permit is required for camping, swimming, fishing, hiking, picnicking, and/or driving off-road.

Map + Directions

Customizable Directions


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