The Needles at Pyramid Lake

The Needles at Pyramid Lake

The Needles area of Pyramid Lake, and its hot springs, have been closed to all but the Pyramid Lake Paiute since 1980. However in 2009 we were allowed to create this photographic documentation, acompanied by tribal authorities.


Click and drag to explore the Needles at Pyramid Lake.
Touch here for the HMD (Google Cardboard) version.

The tufa formations, which begin on the beach and extend out into the bay, are officially named “The Needles Rocks” but locally are called simply “The Needles.” While once this was a popular camping and swimming location, vandalism, excessive partying, and graffiti scrawled onto this sacred land prompted its closure. Perhaps the final indignity was when someone shot a cow and then dragged its carcass atop the hot spring, perhaps thinking that corned beef would magically appear in the morning.

According to artist Ben Aleck, the collection manager at the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s Museum and Visitor Center, “The tribe always used the area as a natural place to offer prayer. It would be like a church.”

Kathy Gordon, in 2009 a student in our program, did her own, more extensive VR documentation around the lake. Her work may be seen here. The Needles location may be viewed here in Google Maps, but trespassing—by car or by foot—will result in a hefty fine.

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