Anaho Island National Wildlife Refuge

If you’re a nerd for birds, there’s no better way to watch than at the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Situated on the outskirts of Fallon, the Stillwater Complex is made up of three separate wildlife refuges, including Stillwater, Fallon and Anaho Island National Wildlife Refuge. All of Nevada’s National Wildlife Refuges are special habitats for unlikely life in unsuspecting places, and Anaho Island and the great Stillwater Complex is no exception. Garnering international attention as a paradise for 280 species of birds, this massive wetland area is of global importance as it makes for the perfect stopping place for more than 20,000 migratory birds each year. While each of these three complexes are special, Anaho Island stands out as an undisturbed breeding ground for the American White Pelican, and considered to be the largest breeding colony in the country. 

With a sacred, glacial lake as the largest breeding ground for the American White Pelicans in the USA, the unimaginable runs wild at this northern Nevada National Wildlife Refuge.

Anaho Island History

Anaho Island is an island within the ancient Pyramid Lake, protected by both the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Part of their sacred lands for thousands of years, this natural habitat sits undisturbed, continuing to serve as an idyllic natural breeding ground for the American White Pelicans. Like other rock formations surrounding Pyramid Lake, Anaho Island is made of “tufa”, or calcium carbonate that formed out of water from hot springs as the lake level receded. The name “Anaho” comes from a legend of an Indian maiden once banished to the island—to hear more about this story and others important to the tribe, be sure to check out the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum & Visitors Center in Nixon.

Visiting Anaho Island National Wildlife Refuge Today

Pyramid Lake’s western shore is open and available for public recreation, like fishing for the legendary Lahontan Cutthroat trout, hiking the shore line, and photography and wildlife viewing. The eastern shoreline of the lake—which provides access to the Pyramid Formation, Stone Mother, and Anaho Island—remains closed, only accessible to members of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. But fear not! The best views of these stunning formations are best seen from the western shoreline anyhow, with American White Pelicans flying and landing all around Pyramid Lake. 

Keep an eye out for these ancient beauties flying overhead as you’re driving, and landing next to you as you fish, or kick back on that beautiful shoreline. Plan to see Pelicans just about any time of year at Pyramid Lake, though their yearly journey begins when colonial nesting birds return to the island in late February and early March. By April and May, the maximum number of American White Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, California Gulls and Great Blue Herons have arrived and can be seen all around Pyramid Lake. 


While Anaho Island itself is not open to the public, learn more about the entire Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge Complex’s three separate refugees including Stillwater, Anaho Island and Fallon National Wildlife Refuges at their headquarter offices in Fallon. Located on eastern edge of Fallon, stop in to chat with Refugee staff, get a lay of the land, and get additional resources and literature about the three NWRs.


Admission to Stillwater and Fallon National Wildlife Refuges are both free, with no additional admission required to access the Stillwater refugee headquarters in Fallon. For more information about planning your trip to Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge dial (775) 423-5128.

This Location:

North Central, Nevada




North Central