Lahontan Reservoir, Nevada, USA

Also known as:  Lake Lahontan

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Lahontan Reservoir — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

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All About Lahontan Reservoir

Lahontan Reservoir is located about 45 miles northeast of Carson City, Nevada, on the Carson River. The Lahontan Dam was completed in 1915 and impounds a portion of the Carson River, along with diversions from the Truckee River, to store water for irrigation of the surrounding desert area as well as to produce hydroelectric power. The reservoir was named for prehistoric Lake Lahontan, which covered 8,500 square miles of northern Nevada during the Ice Age. Today, the reservoir provides a welcome oasis for fishing, boating, camping, and nature watching.

Visitors to Lahontan Reservoir should be aware that the water levels are subject to extreme fluctuations depending on drought conditions and water usage. The reservoir has a storage capacity of 274,000 acre-feet, but in times of need, especially in summer, it can be drawn as low as 4,000 acre-feet. This impacts the types of recreational activities that are possible at the lake, so it is best to check on current lake levels before planning your trip.

Fishing and recreational boating are of course popular activities at the reservoir. The lake is home to walleye, brown trout, rainbow trout, channel catfish, white bass, and white crappie. State-record wipers (a cross between white bass and striped bass) have also been caught at the lake. Fishing is available year-round in the reservoir’s warm waters. The State of Nevada has a fish consumption advisory for Lahontan Reservoir due to mercury runoff from area mines during the late 1800s.

Accessing the lake by boat is easy; there are two paved boat launches at the reservoir: at Silver Springs Beach and at Churchill Beach. In addition, boaters with four wheel drive vehicles can launch their boats from the beach. Because there are no motor restrictions on the lake, water skiing is a favorite summertime activity at the reservoir. There are also multiple swimming beaches available to help visitors escape the hot Nevada sun.

The reservoir is ideal for camping, and visitors may pitch tents along any part of the sandy shore that is not reserved for day-use. Silver Springs Beach also has a dedicated campground that is open summer and fall. Even if you don’t plan to stay the night, you can bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the sights and sounds of the peaceful lake and its shores. Picnic areas are available across from the Lahontan Dam and at Silver Springs Beach, and are equipped with picnic tables, grills, and modern restrooms.

Because the lake is surrounded by the Lahontan State Recreation Area, it is mainly undeveloped and offers plenty of opportunities for nature watching. The land in the park is primarily desert sagebrush, with cottonwood and willow trees around the shoreline. The park is home to wild horses, bobcat, coyote, fox, and deer. The reservoir is also a great place to view birds, including pelicans, herons, egrets, and hawks. Lahontan Reservoir is home to the only known nesting pair of bald eagles in the state of Nevada.

Lahontan Reservoir offers a refreshing respite from the hot summer sun. Here, fishing, boating, and water skiing can all be enjoyed just steps away from the desert sands. Be sure not to pass up a visit to this relaxing desert oasis.

Things to Do at Lahontan Reservoir

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish Species Found at Lahontan Reservoir

  • Bass
  • Brown Trout
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Striped Bass
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • White Bass
  • White Crappie

Find Places to Stay at Lahontan Reservoir

If you’re considering a Lahontan Reservoir lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Lahontan Reservoir Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Lahontan Reservoir lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Lahontan Reservoir Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Truckee-Carson Irrigation District

Surface Area: 10,600 acres

Shoreline Length: 65 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 4,162 feet

Average Depth: 50 feet

Maximum Depth: 85 feet

Water Volume: 178,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1915

Drainage Area: 1,450 sq. miles

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