Exploring Nevada's Pristine Wildlife: Paddle Boarding Hotspots

Nevada, widely known for its arid desert landscapes and vibrant cities, may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of wildlife encounters. However, hidden within this diverse state lies a surprising array of unique ecosystems that provide ample opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts to witness remarkable creatures up close. One such immersive experience is paddle boarding—a serene and intimate way to explore Nevada's lakes, rivers, and wetlands. In this article, we will delve into some of the best places to view wildlife from a paddle board in Nevada, the incredible creatures you can encounter, and the optimal time of year to plan your visit.

  1. Lake Tahoe:

    Nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Lake Tahoe offers an unparalleled setting for paddle boarding while being surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. The crystal-clear waters provide a window into a vibrant underwater world, making it an ideal spot for wildlife enthusiasts. As you paddle along the shoreline, keep your eyes peeled for a variety of bird species, including bald eagles, ospreys, and herons. In the water, you might be lucky enough to spot lake trout, kokanee salmon, or even the elusive Lahontan cutthroat trout. On land, be on the lookout for black bears, mule deer, and occasionally mountain lions. The best time to visit Lake Tahoe for wildlife sightings is during the summer months, from June to September, when the weather is milder, and wildlife activity is at its peak months, from June to September when the weather is milder, and wildlife activity is at its peak. You may even be lucky enough to spot an American Martin pictured above or an American mink and other amazing mammals along the shore.
  2. Colorado River:

    The mighty Colorado River cuts through the rugged desert landscapes of Nevada, creating a vibrant oasis teeming with wildlife. Paddle boarding along this iconic river provides a unique perspective on the diverse flora and fauna that call this region home. The riparian areas along the riverbanks support an abundance of birdlife, including great blue herons, egrets, and cormorants. If you're lucky, you might even spot a rare southwestern willow flycatcher or an elusive desert bighorn sheep scaling the rocky cliffs. In the water, keep an eye out for beavers and river otters as they go about their aquatic activities. While wildlife can be observed along the Colorado River year-round, the best time to visit is during the spring and fall when temperatures are milder, and migratory bird species pass through the region.

  3. Topaz Lake:

    Situated on the border between Nevada and California, Topaz Lake is a hidden gem for paddle boarders seeking wildlife encounters. This serene alpine lake is surrounded by panoramic mountain vistas, providing a picturesque backdrop for your adventure. As you glide across the water, keep an eye out for bald eagles soaring overhead or diving ospreys hunting for fish. Along the shoreline, you might spot mule deer, raccoons, or even the occasional black bear. Underneath the surface, the lake is home to a variety of fish species, including Lahontan cutthroat trout and smallmouth bass. Spring and fall are the best seasons to visit Topaz Lake, as the mild temperatures attract a wide variety of wildlife.
  4. Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge:

    Nestled in the northeastern part of the state, Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge offers a tranquil and remote setting for wildlife enthusiasts. This expansive wetland complex is a haven for migratory birds and mammals alike, making it a paddler's paradise. As you navigate the shallow waters and cattail-lined channels, you'll encounter a stunning array of waterfowl, including pintails, wigeons, and grebes. Raptors such as red-tailed hawks and northern harriers can be seen patrolling the skies, while muskrats and beavers busy themselves in the marshes. Mammals such as mule deer and coyotes may also be spotted along the shoreline. Spring and fall are the prime seasons to visit Ruby Lake, as these periods coincide with the arrival and departure of numerous bird species.
  5. Lahontan Reservoir:

    Located in western Nevada, Lahontan Reservoir is a hidden oasis for wildlife enthusiasts and paddle boarding enthusiasts alike. The reservoir's diverse habitats provide an ideal environment for an array of wildlife encounters, including mammals. Watch for flocks of waterfowl, including Canadian geese and mallards, as they make their way across the calm waters. In addition, the reservoir supports a healthy population of bass and catfish, making it a popular fishing destination. On the shoreline, you may have the chance to spot mule deer grazing or coyotes prowling. The best time to visit Lahontan Reservoir for wildlife sightings is during the spring and fall when migratory bird activity is high, and the temperatures are mild.

  6. Pyramid Lake:

    Pyramid Lake, located in the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Reservation, is a mesmerizing destination that offers both cultural significance and abundant wildlife. As you paddle along the lake's turquoise waters, you'll be greeted by a variety of bird species, including American white pelicans, western grebes, and great blue herons. Keep your eyes peeled for the unique Lahontan cutthroat trout, an iconic species native to the region. On land, the sagebrush-covered hills surrounding the lake provide habitat for several mammalian species. Look for herds of pronghorn antelope gracefully roaming the plains, while jackrabbits dart through the brush. Pyramid Lake is also known for its resident herd of wild horses, which can often be spotted grazing along the shoreline. Spring and fall are the best times to visit, as the weather is mild and the bird migration season is in full swing

  7. Walker Lake:

    1. Situated in western Nevada, Walker Lake is a hidden gem that offers a serene and uncrowded paddle boarding experience. This expansive lake is surrounded by rugged mountains and serves as a vital habitat for numerous bird species. Look out for sandhill cranes, Western grebes, and American avocets as they feed along the shoreline. Keep your eyes peeled for raptors such as bald eagles and red-tailed hawks soaring overhead. The diverse shoreline vegetation also attracts various mammals, including mule deer and desert cottontails. Walker Lake is also home to Lahontan cutthroat trout, which is a critically endangered species and a sight to behold. Big horn sheep are also often seen along the shoreline. Spring and early summer are the ideal seasons to visit, as water levels are higher, and bird activity is at its peak.

  8. Truckee River:

    Flowing from Lake Tahoe through Reno, the Truckee River offers a picturesque setting for paddle boarding and wildlife spotting. As you navigate the river's gentle currents, keep an eye out for a variety of bird species, including belted kingfishers, great blue herons, and American dippers. In the water, you might catch sight of trout and the elusive Lahontan tui chub. Along the riverbanks, watch for mule deer grazing peacefully. The riparian vegetation provides habitat for small mammals such as beavers and muskrats, which can be observed building their intricate lodges and dams. While wildlife can be observed along the Truckee River year-round, spring and early summer are particularly vibrant, as migratory birds return to the area.
  9. Wild Horse State Recreation Area:

    Located near the picturesque town of Elko, the Wild Horse State Recreation Area offers a unique paddle boarding experience coupled with the chance to witness herds of majestic wild horses. Paddle along the tranquil waters of the reservoir, and you'll be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding desert landscape. Keep an eye out for the iconic wild horses that roam freely in the area, showcasing their untamed beauty. You may also spot a variety of bird species, including American coots, Western grebes, and great blue herons. The best time to visit is in the spring or fall when temperatures are mild, and wildlife activity is high.


Nevada, often underestimated for its wildlife offerings, boasts an array of paddle boarding destinations that showcase the state's incredible biodiversity. Whether you explore the serene waters of Lake Tahoe, the meandering Colorado River, the hidden gem of Topaz Lake, the remote Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, or the oasis of Lahontan Reservoir, each location offers a unique blend of wildlife encounters and breathtaking scenery. To optimize your wildlife viewing experiences, plan your visit during the optimal times of the year mentioned for each location. So, grab your paddle board, embark on an adventure, and prepare to be captivated by Nevada's untamed beauty and its magnificent wildlife.

Glide Paddle Board Tips.

For wildlife tips check out our blog and this article on Beginners Guide To Bird Watching. And don't forget to read our article on Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Wildlife Encounters. For other places in Oregon check out these articles If you are looking for some other places to paddle board in Oregon or do some sup fishing then check out these articles, Stand Up Paddle Boarding in Oregon or our article on The Ultimate Guide On Finding Places To Paddle Board Near You And for SUP Fishing The Best Places to SUP Fish in Nevada: A Guide to Thrilling Angling Adventures! For a complete guide on where to paddle board in every state, this one is for you! The best places to paddle board in the United States a state by state tour of where to paddle board with Glide Paddle Boards. Or perhaps something international is what you are looking for, then these two articles will help out. Check out the ultimate guide on finding places to paddle board near you for tips and tricks on finding new and exciting places near you! And for international spots Epic Spots Globally To Paddle Board is for you!

SUP yoga spots, look no further than this article to get started The Best Spots for SUP Yoga in Nevada: A Blissful Fusion of Balance and Serenity. Have fun exploring Nevada and check out our blog for more amazing articles and spots to paddle board.