Pyramid Lake is a remnant of the ancient Lake Lahontan, which covered some 8,450 square miles in western Nevada during the Earth’s Ice Age. In ancient times, Lake Lahontan reached out to eastern California and up to southern Oregon.
Along the shores of Pyramid Lake, cave and rock shelters have yielded evidence of Numu Indians, also known as Northern Paiute Indians, living at the Pyramid Lake area for thousands of years. The Numu Indians are known to have a language that is derived from the Uto-Aztecan language family, which is most closely related to the language of the Owens Valley Paiute and to the Mono Paiute, also known as the Monachi Paiute and as the Kutzadika Paiute, a dialect which is spoken directly on the other side of the Sierra Nevada.
On January 10, 1843, John Charles Frémont came upon Pyramid Lake, during his second trip to the Black Rock Desert, on and named it for the pyramid-shaped island just off the east shore. The Numu called the pyramid formulation (sic) Wono. In 1859, the Pyramid Lake Indian Tribe Reservation was created as a site for the Numu Indians, after the conclusion of the Pyramid Lake War.
In August 2019, author Philip Andrew Hamilton visited Pyramid Lake, for his first time, on his way to Burning Man Metamorphosis.