The enclosed waters of western Nevada’s Pyramid Lake get their name from the irregular rocky pyramid formations jutting above the waterline. Located within the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Reservation, the lake measures about 15 miles long and 11 miles wide, and reaches a depth of 350 feet.
From the shore of the lake, you can see conical stone formations rising out of the still waters. The limestone tufa formations were exposed when a larger ancient lake receded and today they are not only scenic but some are also home to a rare breed of pelican. The lake is home of the endangered cui-ui, a fish that once was a main food of the Paiute people. However, according to local legend, these majestic stones are nothing compared to what lies under the water.
Legends of “water babies” surround Pyramid Lake. These mysterious and dangerous spirits are said to mimic the sounds of crying babies to lure in victims. There are many legends surrounding the origin of the water babies. One version holds that premature or malformed infants were thrown into the waters to maintain the strength of the tribe. According to another version, a Paiute tribesman fell in love with a mermaid from the lake. When he brought her back to the tribe they rejected her, so she placed a curse on the lake.
No matter the version of the myth one subscribes to, supposedly the sounds of crying babies can be heard from the lake on some nights.