Wild Horse Reservoir, Nevada, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Nevada - Cowboy Country -

Also known as:  Wildhorse Reservoir

Wild Horse Reservoir, also known as Wildhorse Reservoir, is located along the Owyhee River in the deserts of northeastern Nevada near the Idaho border. The reservoir was originally built in 1937 to provide water storage for irrigation for the Duck Valley Indian Reservation. The original dam was replaced in 1969, increasing the size of the lake to its present 2,830 acres. The reservoir’s distinctive name came from the wild horses that roamed the Owyhee Meadows where the lake was constructed. Today, wild horses can still be seen in the Owyhee Desert west of the lake.

The high-altitude reservoir, 6205 feet above sea level, is surrounded by treeless desert, and the nearby mountains provide a stunning backdrop for recreation and relaxation. Wild Horse Reservoir’s climate can vary greatly from season to season. Temperatures can top 90 degrees F in the summer, and lows of -20 degrees F are common in the winter months, making Wild Horse Reservoir home to some of the coldest winter temperatures in the state of Nevada.

Fishing is the most popular activity at the lake, and most anglers come in search of rainbow trout and yellow perch. Wild Horse Reservoir is also home to brown trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, catfish, white crappie, and bowcutt trout. Many anglers also have good luck fishing in the Owyhee River below Wild Horse Dam. Anglers visit the lake year-round, with fly fishing popular in early spring and late fall. The cold winter temperatures make the lake ideal for ice fishing, and the Wild Horse Ice Fishing Tournament held annually each February draws anglers from all over Nevada.

Wild Horse Recreation Area, a 140-acre park on the northeastern shore of the lake, offers visitors an ideal place to enjoy the lake every season of the year. The park is open year-round, but visitors should be aware that access can often be difficult in the winter. The recreation area boasts a boat ramp, picnic area, and even a small swimming beach–a perfect place to cool off from those 90 degree temperatures in the summer. In the fall, hunting opportunities abound in the lands surrounding the recreation area. And in the winter, the park comes alive with the sounds of snowmobiles and snow skiers. The park’s rolling hills and lack of trees make it a perfect place for winter sports.

Visitors who would like to camp at the lake have several options. Wild Horse State Recreation Area has a campground with 33 campsites, each equipped with picnic tables and fire pits. Restrooms and showers are also conveniently available. Camping is also available at lakeside sites managed by the Shoshone-Paiute Indian Tribe who inhabit Duck Valley Indian Reservation. The more adventurous can enjoy more primitive camping in many areas right on the shores of the reservoir.

If you are looking for a secluded lake with year-round interest, Wild Horse Reservoir is the place for you. Be sure to plan a trip to this relaxing oasis in the heart of the Nevada desert.

Things to do at Wild Horse Reservoir

  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting

Fish species found at Wild Horse Reservoir

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Brown Trout
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Trout
  • White Crappie
  • Yellow Perch

Wild Horse Reservoir Photo Gallery

Wild Horse Reservoir Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Bureau of Indian Affairs

Surface Area: 2,830 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 6,205 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 6,210 feet

Average Depth: 40 feet

Maximum Depth: 70 feet

Water Volume: 71,500 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1969

Drainage Area: 60 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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