Pyramid Lake is a remnant of ancient Lake Lahontan, which covered some 8,450 square miles in western Nevada during the Ice Age. Lake Lahontan reached out to eastern California and up to southern Oregon.
Caves and rock shelters along its shore have yielded evidence of Numu (Paiute) people living at the Pyramid Lake area for thousands of years.
John Charles Frémont came upon the lake on January 10, 1844 and named it for the pyramid-shaped island just off the east shore. The Numu called the pyramid formulation (sic) Wono. The Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation was created in 1959.
The author Philip Andrew Hamilton visited Pyramid Lake on his way to the Burning Man Festival.