Walker Lake, Nevada, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Nevada - Nevada Silver Trails -

Walker Lake is a natural lake located in rural Mineral County, Nevada about 75 miles southeast of Reno, Nevada. It is one of several freshwater terminus lakes in the Great Basin, meaning it has no outflows. The lake is fed by the Walker River, and it is bordered to the west by the Wassuk Mountains. With its sparkling blue waters and scenic mountain views, Walker Lake is a popular destination for fishing, boating, camping, and nature watching.

Walker Lake has a fascinating history. It is a remnant of ancient Lake Lahontan, an inland sea that covered much of northwestern Nevada during the Ice Age. Walker Lake has dried completely up several times in its long history. The area surrounding the lake was inhabited by Native Americans as far back as 11,000 years ago. In 1874, a reservation was formed on the northern shores of the lake for the Walker River Paiute Tribe, or in Paiute, the Agai-Dicutta tribe. The Agai-Dicutta, or “trout eaters,” fished both Walker Lake and Walker River for its famous Lahontan cutthroat trout. Unfortunately, the use of the Walker River for irrigation of the surrounding desert lands has caused a drastic drop in lake levels–Walker Lake has dropped 126 feet since 1882. As the lake levels drop, the salinity of the lake is increasing, putting the lake’s ecosystem in danger. Today, there is a movement to try to save this unique and beautiful lake.

The lake is renowned for its population of Lahontan cutthroat trout. The lake is stocked with this large variety of trout, and anglers still have success catching them at Walker Lake. Due to the increased salinity of the lake, the perch and carp populations that flourished in the 1950s have now died out, but Tui chub, Tahoe sucker, and the occasional rainbow trout and catfish can still be found in Walker Lake. Along with increasing the lake’s freshwater supply, local groups working to save the lake want to reestablish spawning runs of the Lahontan cutthroat trout population so future anglers will be able to fish for this local variety of trout.

Recreational boating is a popular pastime at Walker Lake. There are no motor restrictions on the lake, and you will find powerboats, jet skiers, and solitary canoe enthusiasts equally at home on the lake. Boat launches are available at several locations around the lake. Boaters should be aware that storms can appear suddenly from over the Wassuk Mountain Range on the west side of the lake, causing high winds and strong waves. Boaters should always check local weather reports before taking to the water.

Nature lovers can enjoy activities off the water, as well. The shoreline of Walker Lake is made up of sandy beaches on the east side of the lake, but is more rocky on the west side of the lake near the mountains, meaning there is a variety of terrain to explore. There are especially good views of Mount Grant, the 11,000 foot peak closest to the lake that is often capped with snow. As you explore the shoreline, watch for tufa formations that form when the lime-rich water covering a rock evaporates, leaving crystals protruding from the rock’s surface. You may also catch a glimpse of some of the more than 100 bird species that call Walker Lake home, including the American white pelican, snowy plover, long-billed curlew, double crested cormorant, and white-faced ibis. If you visit the lake in fall or spring, you may be treated to the sight of as many as 1,400 common loons on their migratory journey–the largest group to be seen west of the Mississippi River. After a long day of exploring the lake, you can make camp at one of several local beaches. Sportsman’s Beach, on the west side of Walker Lake, has over thirty developed campsites, along with picnic tables, grills, and a boat ramp. More primitive camping is available at Twenty Mile Beach, Tamarack Beach, The Cove, and East Shore Beach.

Walker Lake is a beautiful place with a rich ecosystem and an even richer history. If the legends of the Paiute Tribe are correct, Walker Lake may also be home to a more mysterious creature than its famous trout. Tribal lore tells of two sea serpents that inhabit Walker Lake; these sea serpents were once a man and woman. Some local residents have reported sightings of a large reptilian creature in the lake, affectionately known as “Cecil.” Could this be a descendant of one of the ichthyosaurus that once inhabited prehistoric Lake Lahontan? Plan a visit to this natural wonder and you could discover this and much more.

Things to do at Walker Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Jet Skiing
  • Camping
  • Picnicking

Fish species found at Walker Lake

  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Sucker
  • Trout

Walker Lake Photo Gallery

Walker Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 32,192 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3,940 feet

Maximum Depth: 80 feet

Water Volume: 2,200,000 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 4,050 sq. miles

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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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