Pyramid Lake Museum

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum and Visitors Center is a resource for educational and entertainment programs throughout the year. Visitors to the Center can admire the beautiful architecture and visit its interactive exhibits on the lake’s native inhabitants, the Numu (Northern Paiute) and their rich cultural and historical ties to the Great Basin, as well as, the lake’s natural history.

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum and Visitors Center is located on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation. It is open to the public and includes displays on the culture and history of the Northern Paiute peoples with unique artifacts, archival items, contemporary works, and a short film that runs as a backdrop to the exhibits. Although, it is called a museum in English, there is no direct translation in Paiute. Instead they use the phrase “Ki Nasoomoowakwatoo,” meaning, “Never to be Forgotten,” to describe the place that holds some of the special objects of their history and way of life.

The Northern Paiutes traditionally lived throughout the Great Basin, an area that spanned eastern California, western Nevada and southeast Oregon and was once home to the ancient Lake Lahontan. They lived together as bands, which were named according to the food found in the territory they occupied. The Pyramid Lake Tribe is named Kooyooe Ticutta, which translates from Paiute to “Cui-ui Eaters,” as the lake’s endemic cui-ui fish were their dominant food source.  Adapting has always been part of Paiute life, as they have learned to survive in the harsh high desert environment that they call home. Although Northern Paiutes no longer hunt and gather, they maintain many of the traditional skills that were once necessary to that way of life - gathering pine nuts, fishing, hunting with bow and arrow, and making baskets and cradle boards. They now live modern lives and manage their lands for many activities, such as fishing, hunting and recreation, while still preserving the natural resources for future generations.

Pyramid Lake also has a unique natural history. The lake is the terminus of the Truckee River watershed, which flows from Lake Tahoe. As an endorheic basin with no outlet to the ocean, it has higher salinity and a unique environment that is home to endemic species, such as the Cui-ui fish and the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. These large fish draw anglers from around the world.

The lake is named for its impressive pyramidal tufa formations. One formation of cultural significance to the Northern Paiute is called “The Stone Mother” because it looks like a woman seated with a basket next to her.  She is considered sacred, and she is part of a traditional oral story that explains the formation of Pyramid Lake. Anaho Island is the largest tufa formation and is home to one of the west’s largest colonies of American White Pelicans. The entire island is designated as a national wildlife refuge and access is restricted.



709 Highway 446, Nixon NV


Winter Hours: M-F 10 AM-4:30 PM

Summer Hours: M-S 10 AM-4:30 PM


Car, ADA


Paved parking lot


Museum exhibits

Learn more about the Pyramid Lake Museum.