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Wild Horse Reservoir, also known as Wildhorse Reservoir, is located along the Owyhee River in the deserts of northeastern Nevada near the Idaho border. The reservoir was originally built in 1937 to provide water storage for irrigation for the Duck Valley Indian Reservation. The original dam was replaced in 1969, increasing the size of the lake to its present 2,830 acres. The reservoir's distinctive name came from the wild horses that roamed the Owyhee Meadows where the lake was constructed. Today, wild horses can still be seen in the Owyhee Desert west of the lake.
The high-altitude reservoir, 6205 feet above sea level, is surrounded by treeless desert, and the nearby mountains provide a stunning backdrop for recreation and relaxation. Wild Horse Reservoir's climate can vary greatly from season to season. Temperatures can top 90 degrees F in the summer, and lows of -20 degrees F are common in the winter months, making Wild Horse Reservoir home to some of the coldest winter temperatures in the state of Nevada.
Fishing is the most popular activity at the lake, and most anglers come in search of rainbow trout and yellow perch. Wild Horse Reservoir is also home to brown trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, catfish, white crappie, and bowcutt trout. Many anglers also have good luck fishing in the Owyhee River below Wild Horse Dam. Anglers visit the lake year-round, with fly fishing popular in early spring and late fall. The cold winter temperatures make the lake ideal for ice fishing, and the Wild Horse Ice Fishing Tournament held annually each February draws anglers from all over Nevada.
Wild Horse Recreation Area, a 140-acre park on the northeastern shore of the lake, offers visitors an ideal place to enjoy the lake every season of the year. The park is open year-round, but visitors should be aware that access can often be difficult in the winter. The recreation area boasts a boat ramp, picnic area, and even a small swimming beach--a perfect place to cool off from those 90 degree temperatures in the summer. In the fall, hunting opportunities abound in the lands surrounding the recreation area. And in the winter, the park comes alive with the sounds of snowmobiles and snow skiers. The park's rolling hills and lack of trees make it a perfect place for winter sports.
Visitors who would like to camp at the lake have several options. Wild Horse State Recreation Area has a campground with 33 campsites, each equipped with picnic tables and fire pits. Restrooms and showers are also conveniently available. Camping is also available at lakeside sites managed by the Shoshone-Paiute Indian Tribe who inhabit Duck Valley Indian Reservation. The more adventurous can enjoy more primitive camping in many areas right on the shores of the reservoir.
If you are looking for a secluded lake with year-round interest, Wild Horse Reservoir is the place for you. Be sure to plan a trip to this relaxing oasis in the heart of the Nevada desert.
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