Ruby Lake, Nevada, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Nevada - Cowboy Country -

Also known as:  Ruby Marsh

Perhaps the last thing one would expect to find in the deserts of northeastern Nevada is a marsh. But Ruby Lake is just that: a 17,125 acre marsh and national wildlife refuge that is home to hundreds of wetland species. Ruby Lake is a remnant of ancient Franklin Lake, a 300,000 acre lake that was 200 feet deep. Today, the marshy area reaches depths of just 12 feet and is fed by over 150 pure mountain springs from the base of the Ruby Mountains to its west. Ruby Marsh is extremely remote. Visitors must travel 17 to 35 miles of gravel road to reach the marsh, and some of the roads are not accessible in the winter. However, the seclusion of the lake makes it a peaceful location for fishing, hunting, wildlife observation, and photography.

Early explorers to the area thought the red garnet stones they found there were rubies, and they named the mountains the Ruby Mountains. Today these snow-capped peaks rise majestically above the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. This 37,632 acre area surrounding Ruby Marsh was proclaimed a national wildlife refuge in 1938 due to its importance as a habitat for both waterfowl and shorebirds. Until the 1970s, Ruby Lake was a haven for recreational boating, with as many as 30,000 visitors a year power boating and water skiing the lake. In 1977, however, restrictions were put into place that limited boating access to the lake for the protection of the wildlife that inhabits the refuge. Today, Ruby Lake is once again the wildlife sanctuary it was intended to be.

The most popular activity at the refuge is fishing. Trout and bass are the biggest attractions for anglers at Ruby Lake. State-record catches have been made for rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, tiger trout, cutthroat trout, and largemouth bass. Although fishing is allowed at the lake year-round, Ruby Marsh has strict boating regulations to help maintain the purity of the water as well as the integrity of the wildlife habitat. Boating is allowed on the lake only from June 15 to December 31, and only in designated areas. Motor boats are limited to electric motors or 10 horsepower engines depending on the season and the area, so check the regulations carefully before planning your trip. Boat launches are available at the Main Boat Landing and Narciss Boat Landing; cartop boats may also put in at Gravel Pit Pond and Brown Dike. In addition to fishing, hunting for waterfowl is allowed at the refuge seasonally in designated areas.

Wildlife observation and photography are also favorite activities at the refuge. There are over 200 species of birds alone found at the refuge. The marsh has the largest density of nesting canvasback ducks found in North America. Other birds found on Ruby Lake include Canada geese, trumpeter swans, grebes, and great blue herons. Bald eagles, golden eagles, and red-tailed hawks can be spotted seasonally at the lake. Ruby Marsh is also home to mammals such as deer, coyote, and bobcat. Access to the refuge for wildlife observation is available year-round from one hour before dawn until two hours after sunset, and a self-guided tour route has been established to provide visitors with the best opportunity to spot the resident wildlife. Although camping is not allowed on the refuge, many visitors camp at the South Ruby Campground in the mountains just outside the refuge.

Ruby Lake is a paradise for wildlife and nature lovers alike. Come see why a trip to this secluded marsh is well worth the effort.

Things to do at Ruby Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Wildlife Refuge

Fish species found at Ruby Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Brook Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Tiger Trout
  • Trout

Ruby Lake Photo Gallery

Ruby Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 17,125 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 5,965 feet

Maximum Depth: 12 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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