Just 45 minutes outside of Reno–and even within distance of San Francisco–lies the under appreciated Pyramid Lake. If you don’t like dealing with fees, permits and waits for taking your boat into Tahoe, it’s an ideal alternative. You usually can pick up a boat permit at 7-11 in Reno before heading out north, and completely avoid the lines there.
Brief digression: would you want to go to Pyramid without watercraft? I suppose you could go for swimming and hanging out at the beach. The water can get quite warm and clear in summer, even if it’s a bit salty. Even so, it’s more of a fishing/boating/jet-skiing area than a beach hangout spot like Tahoe. Boating seems to be the ideal activity; you’ll be surprised by the lack of traffic there.
Having driven over from San Francisco that morning, we didn’t get in a little after 1 o’clock. My mom remarked that there were more people there than she’d ever seen, but, apart from some cops annoyingly looking us over, it was a smooth, quick departure.
We started roaring over the water at 30 mph and once the cops were out of sight cracked open bottles of beer to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend.
Straight across from the boat dock at the fisheries is the Pyramid. It’s probably more of a ziggurat, with a typical Nevada moon-like surroundings. The water, too, is a deep green, giving it an extraterrestrial appearance.
It’s Paiute Indian land there and the Paiute tribe nearby comes to her to pray, sometimes leaving the Stone Mother offerings. There were none today, but when we started to move off, we noticed some of the Indians setting up for what looked to be a ceremony.
Afterward, we got back in the boat and headed for a long, fast ride around the Anaho Island National Wildlife Refuge, a bird sanctuary which happens to be a large, pyramid-shaped island in the middle of the lake.
Sun-drenched, we then headed back to shore. In total, we probably covered 7 or 8 miles by boat over the course of a couple hours. But if you’ve got the time, Pyramid Lake is enormous–nearly the size of Tahoe–so you can boat all day and camp out in different locations along the way.