Adams-McGill Reservoir, Nevada, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Nevada - Nevada Silver Trails -

Also known as:  Wayne E. Kirch Wildlife Management Area, Tule Reservoir, Dacey Reservoir, Cold Springs Reservoir, Haymeadow Reservoir, Sunnyside Reservoir

An oasis for birds, waterfowl, fish and wildlife in the midst of Nevada’s Great Basin desert surrounds little-known Adams-McGill Reservoir. This nearly 15,000-acre wetland is located in the White River Valley of Nevada’s Silver Trails Region. Although planned for wildlife habitat, the area has plenty to offer human visitors. Five man-made reservoirs, of which Adams-McGill is the largest, provide wetland margins, shallows, wet meadows and slow-moving creek beds for the wealth of migratory birds, waterfowl and endangered native fishes. The rewarding rainbow trout and largemouth bass fishing in the reservoirs is almost an afterthought; the Wayne E Kirch Wildlife Management Area is primarily for the birds, fish and small mammals.

The expansive Kirch Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is operated by the Nevada Department of Wildlife, which has made a few concessions for the human visitors to this unique, windswept basin. Four of the five reservoirs have been stocked with fish, and each holds several boat ramps for visiting boat owners. Boats are necessary because there is little shore fishing permitted. Visitors can fish from the dams, but the majority of the shorelines are off-limits to humans and reserved for wildlife. As boat speeds are limited to a maximum of five nautical miles per hour, there are no power boaters or sport boaters to disturb the wildlife. Anglers are just as likely to use float tubes as boats on these waters. No motors at all are allowed on the lower part of Dacey Reservoir from February 15th to August 15th. Canoes and kayaks are possible but likely not a good choice, because the reservoirs are noted for windy conditions and often get quite rough.

No fish stocking is provided at small Tule Reservoir due to its extreme low water level much of the year. Fishing on Dacey Reservoir, Adams-McGill Reservoir, Cold Springs Reservoir and Haymeadow Reservoir is limited to certain areas and certain periods of the year to allow for undisturbed nesting and feeding waterfowl. Anglers are expected to acquaint themselves with the unique regulations for each reservoir and to obtain the appropriate license. ‘Put-and-take’ rainbow trout are stocked twice a year at the larger reservoirs and are the target of early spring fly fishermen. Later, when the sun warms the waters, largemouth bass enjoy playing cat-and-mouse with anglers. The bass and bullheads maintain their populations without stocking. Both trout and bass are known to reach near-trophy size at Kirch Wildlife Management Area. The WMA is about 70 miles south of Ely and 200 miles northwest of Las Vegas, so most fishermen are either local or come prepared to stay at the campground nearby.

Little Dave Deacon Campground is a mile or so away from the reservoirs, set in a small grove of cottonwoods which provide the only shade in the area. The campground holds about 20 campsites, a few with shade shelters, and is at the end of seven miles of gravel road. For those lucky enough to find it, the campground is essentially free to camp and has vault toilets, picnic tables, grills and fire rings. Drinking water outlets are provided as is an RV dump station. Campers are impressed with the views, the solitude and the opportunities for hiking and wildlife viewing. A small hot spring is located not far away. The landscape offers a variety of scenic panoramas, from the nearby Great Basin Mountain Range to the sagebrush flats and wildflower-dotted wet meadows.

Area wildlife include pronghorn, mule deer, coyotes, smaller dessert dwellers and reptiles. The shallows and lake margins shelter ‘dipping’ ducks, herons, amphibians and spawning fish. Overhead a variety of songbirds and birds of prey such as osprey, cormorants and eagles fly. At night, the silence is broken by choruses of coyotes in the surrounding hills. And by day, the miles of dirt roads and trails can be explored by four-wheel-drive vehicles, mountain bikes and on foot. Hunting is allowed in some portions of the WMA in season by permit.

Near the western edge of Kirch WMA, the Hot Creek Refugium offers protected waters in Hot Creek Springs and parts of Hot Creek for the preservation of the rare Moorman White River springfish. The Refugium is a designated National Natural Landmark. Hot Creek Springs also provides protection to the endangered White River speckled dace, White River spinedace and the White River desert sucker. Although the lands surrounding the Kirch WMA look vast and empty, few small locations containing such wet meadows and year-round water sources exist. It was the rarity of such native habitat that caused the Nevada Department of Wildlife to purchase the former Adams-McGill ranch lands in 1961. Since that time, the Department has worked to improve the available habitat.

The Adams-McGill Reservoir-then called Sunnyside Reservoir-was first created by damming the White River in 1916. The dam was rebuilt in 1961, and the other four reservoirs were created at later dates. Adams-McGill Reservoir covers 783 acres and reaches 10 feet deep. Dacey Reservoir, built in the early 1960s, is 185 acres and serves mostly to regulate water in the adjacent Dacey Marsh. Cold Springs Reservoir covers 275 acres when full, and Haymeadow Reservoir is 190 acres. Although some of the reservoirs are kept at near full pool as much as possible, others are allowed to get considerably lower in late summer and early fall when there is little inflow from the surrounding intermittent streams. Through judicious used of controlled burns, controlled grazing and selective herbicide use, the Nevada Dept. of Wildlife keeps the WMA’s lake margins and wet meadows in top condition to support the maximum number and variety of migrating birds. Without such balancing, encroaching native and invasive plants would soon reduce the amount of habitat attractive to this wide variety of species.

Other than campgrounds, there are no lodgings available within the WMA itself. Outside the WMA boundaries, guest cabins, ranch stays and small motels can be found along Highway 93 and in the larger towns in the surrounding area. This area of Nye County holds several picturesque old ghost towns from its silver mining days that are well worth a visit, and several nearby small businesses garner an income catering to tourists interested in nearby “Area 51” legends and lore. But amid the history and the amusement value, the solitude of the Kirch Wildlife Management Area and Adams-McGill Reservoir presents the true call of wild Nevada. Here, it’s all for the birds and wildlife. You are only their guest. Heed the invitation soon!

* Statistics are for Adams-McGill Reservoir only. No statistics are available for Tile Reservoir.

Things to do at Adams-McGill Reservoir

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Tubing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Adams-McGill Reservoir

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Carp
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Sucker
  • Trout

Adams-McGill Reservoir Photo Gallery

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Adams-McGill Reservoir Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Nevada Dept. of Wildlife

Surface Area: 785 acres

Shoreline Length: 8 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 5,154 feet

Average Depth: 7 feet

Maximum Depth: 10 feet

Water Volume: 3,300 acre-feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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