Unique Lakes in the United States

The United States is home to thousands of publicly-accessible lakes across its contiguous landscape, including the beautiful Great Lakes, the world's largest group of freshwater lakes by area. Visitors can travel to lakefront meccas like Chicago and Milwaukee or enjoy excellent opportunities for boating, fishing, swimming, and camping at pristine natural areas like the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, voted as the world's most beautiful place by Good Morning America. Charming resort destinations surround areas such as New York's Lake Placid, known as a frequent Winter Olympic Games host city, or California's Big Bear Lake, the home of the annual Big Bear Lake International Film Festival.

Beaver Lake

Beaver Lake is a lovely manmade reservoir stretching for over 28,000 acres throughout Northwest Arkansas' Ozark Mountains terrain, created in 1966 by the damming of the White River. The lake offers nearly 450 miles of shoreline for visitors to explore throughout the year, accessible via the lovely Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area. Outdoor recreational opportunities abound year-round, ranging from opportunities for hiking, cycling, and horseback riding along the region's beautiful nature trails to chances for boating and water skiing on the lake's waters. Scuba divers can view remains of the spectacular Monte Ne resort, constructed in the 19th century, which was one of the South's top resort destinations until its flooding after the creation of the dam. Anglers can enjoy opportunities to catch largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, and trout. Gorgeous natural terrain areas surrounding the lake are home to several caves that can be explored with permits.

Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake is a lovely resort town in Southern California, located on the banks of the manmade reservoir of the same name approximately half an hour northeast of the city of San Bernardino. It is best known as the home of the prestigious Bear Mountain ski resort, offering challenging terrain parks and educational learner slopes, and the family-friendly Snow Summit ski area. Both the lake and resort area gained their name from populations of black bears in the area, which were originally sighted during the state's Gold Rush and can still be spotted occasionally today. Trout, bass, and catfish angling opportunities are offered year-round on the lake's 22 miles of shoreline. Hiking and mountain biking are also popular throughout the year, particularly within the neighboring San Bernardino National Forest. Each year, the lake area hosts the annual Big Bear Lake International Film Festival, showing independent film selections from filmmakers around the world.

Caddo Lake

Caddo Lake is a delightful freshwater lake stretching across more than 26,000 acres throughout the bayou lands at the Texas-Louisiana border, located within Harrison and Marion Counties in Texas and Caddo Parish in Louisiana. The lake is named in honor of the region's indigenous group of the same name, who inhabited the area until the 19th century. It is home to one of the United States' largest flooded cypress forests, preserved as an internationally-protected wetland area within the supervision of the Ramsar Convention. Visitors can enjoy excellent opportunities to catch more than 70 species of fish throughout the year, including crappie and white and largemouth bass. More than 250 species of birds call the lake area home, including great-horned owls and great blue herons, making it one of the South's top birdwatching destinations.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake is the central natural feature of beautiful Crater Lake National Park, famed around the world for its stunning water clarity and rich deep blue water color. The lake is located in southern central Oregon within a 2,148-foot caldera, formed approximately eight millennia ago after the collapse of volcanic Mount Mazama. It is the United States' deepest lake and the ninth-deepest lake overall in the world, reaching depths of 1,949 feet. Park visitors can enjoy excellent opportunities for year-round recreation, including chances for hiking and biking along trails such as the 1.5-mile Garfield Peak Trail, which showcases spectacular views of nearby Mount Shasta. Swimming is permitted on the lake's surface, which is also a popular site for fishing and boating.

Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan is a delightful freshwater lake in Chelan County, Washington, named after the Salish indigenous word for "deep water." The lake was Washington's largest natural lake by all measures prior to its damming in 1927, which increased its elevation to its current capacity of 1,100 feet. Today, it offers 110 miles of shoreline for visitor recreation, home to lively destinations such as the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area and Wenatchee National Forest. Stunning natural scenery is showcased throughout the lake's 80-mile surrounding glacial valley, which serves as a gateway to the North Cascades National Park Complex. Opportunities for hiking, biking, boating, and watersports abound, including chances for jet ski, paddle boat, and inner tube rentals. During the winter months, visitors can enjoy opportunities for cross-country and downhill skiing and high-speed inner tubing.

Lake Coeur D'Alene

Lake Coeur D'Alene is one of northern Idaho's loveliest natural wonders, located in the state's Pacific Northwest region near the city of Coeur d'Alene. It spans 30,000 acres across the state's Rocky Mountain terrain, offering over 100 miles of visitor-access shoreline and opportunities for four-season outdoor recreation. Scuba divers can explore submerged Model T cars and steamboats on the lake's floor, sunken from the early 20th century, when the lake was used as a common transportation route when it froze over in the winter. Since 1986, the Coeur d'Alene Resort has been home to a world-renowned golf course and a plethora of outdoor recreational opportunities. The North Idaho Centennial Trail offers lovely scenic routes for cyclists and hikers, while Idaho Scenic Highway 97 showcases some of the region's top autumn panoramas. Nearby, Coeur d'Alene National Forest and Coeur d'Alene Parkway State Park offer top opportunities for fishing, hiking, and camping.

Lake Cumberland

Lake Cumberland is a lovely reservoir stretching across six counties in Kentucky, originally impounded along the Cumberland River in 1952 with the creation of the Wolf Creek Dam. The lake, which was dammed as a means of flood control and power for the surrounding region, offers over a thousand miles of visitor-access shoreline, drawing nearly five million tourists each year. Two Kentucky state parks, General Burnside State Park and Lake Cumberland State Resort Park, are located on the lake's shores and within its interior islands. The lake is known as the "Houseboat Capital of the World," attracting overnight visitors who rent houseboats from its many nearby marinas and charter companies. Record-breaking fish catches are frequently recorded at the lake, including notable brown and rainbow trout, striped bass, sturgeon, and walleye catches. On the lake's shores, visitors can enjoy year-round opportunities for nature hiking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, canoeing, and golfing.

Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu is a charming manmade reservoir located within the western Arizona city of the same name, known as a top destination for hiking and watersports throughout the year. The 20,400-acre lake is home to unique attractions such as the London Bridge, which was relocated from England and links the area mainland to a number of full-service marinas. Recreational anglers and boaters flock to the lake throughout the year for boat races and chances to catch channel catfish, largemouth and striped bass, bluegill, carp, and sunfish. Over 125 lakeshore campsites are offered, most featuring picnic tables, barbecue grills, and shelters. Nearby, the Lake Havasu Museum of History documents the region's indigenous and steamboating history, while the Havasu and Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuges protect native species.

Lake Kissimmee

Lake Kissimmee is a lovely Osceola County lake located approximately 15 miles east of the city of Lake Wales, Florida, offering excellent opportunities for boating, canoeing, fishing, and hiking throughout the year. The lake's surrounding state park, Lake Kissimmee State Park, is home to a plethora of native wildlife species, including bald eagles, white-tailed deer, American alligators, sandhill cranes, and bobcats. Visitors can enjoy prime opportunities for birdwatching along Joe Overstreet Road, including chances to spot bald eagles, whooping cranes, and black vultures. Over 13 miles of hiking trails are open to the public, including six miles of equestrian trails. A unique cow camp attraction teaches visitors about 19th-century Florida cowboys.

14248 Camp Mack Rd., Lake Wales FL 33898, Phone: 863-696-1112

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan is the second-largest Great Lake by volume, located along the shores of the states of Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois. As the only lake entirely located within the borders of the United States, the lake is often referred to as America's "Third Coast," home to beautiful soft white sand beaches lined with sand dunes and green beach grass. Unique dune formations can be viewed at sites such as Indiana Dunes National Park, Saugatuck Dunes State Park, and the picturesque Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, frequently voted as one of the world's most beautiful places by international travel publications. Some of the Midwest's biggest cities are located along the lake's shores, including vibrant metropolitan centers Chicago and Milwaukee. Fishing and watersports are popular at urban and rural marinas and beaches, including beaches maintained as part of the Chicago Lakefront Trail system.

Lake Minnetonka

Lake Minnetonka is a delightful inland lake located approximately 15 miles from the city of Minneapolis, within Minnesota's Carver and Hennepin Counties. The lake is one of Minnesota's top 10 largest lakes, covering a surface area of over 14,500 acres. Beautiful regional parks line the lake's shores, including Minnetrista's Lake Minnetonka Regional Park and Orono's Noerenberg Gardens. Some of Minnesota's top-rated restaurants are located on the lakefront, including Al and Alma's Supper Club, Lord Fletcher's Restaurant, and Maynard's Restaurant. Boating, sailing, and fishing are popular on the lake's waters throughout the year, with many companies offering excursions and charters for visitors. Anglers can enjoy excellent opportunities to catch black crappie and bullhead, green and hybrid sunfish, northern pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and yellow perch. During the winter months, visitors can enjoy excellent opportunities for snowmobiling, ice fishing, and ice yachting.

Lake of the Ozarks

Lake of the Ozarks is a lovely manmade reservoir located within easy day trip distance of both Kansas City and St. Louis, created in 1931 with the construction of the Osage River's Bagnell Dam. The lake is often called the "Midwest Coast," attracting visitors throughout the year to enjoy its 1,150 miles of privately-owned shoreline. The beautiful surrounding Lake of the Ozarks State Park, Missouri's largest state park, is home to miles and miles of gorgeous emerald forests and lake coves, offering a plethora of hiking and biking experiences along the lake's 80-mile shoreline. Swimming is permitted during the summer months at the lake's two sandy beachfront areas, while boating and watersports opportunities abound at Anderson Hollow Cove, commonly known as Party Cove. Primitive and electric hookup campsites abound, including several group rental camp areas.

Lake Placid

Lake Placid is best known as the host town of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games, located within New York's beautiful Adirondack Mountain range. The picturesque town is set around the natural freshwater lake of the same name, which stretches across a surface area of over 2,100 acres and offers 20 miles of visitor access shoreline. Sport anglers from around New England flock to the lake to catch rainbow and lake trout, perch, splake, northern pike, and smallmouth bass throughout the year. Kayak and canoe rental opportunities abound, letting visitors travel out to the lake's two large islands, which are popular picnicking and camping spots. In town, the Lake Placid Olympic Museum showcases artifacts connected to both Games, including team medals and preserved uniforms, while more than 100 boutiques and shops sell unique Adirondack-style stick furniture and fine apparel.

Lake Powell

Lake Powell is a delightful reservoir set on the Colorado River at the border of the states of Arizona and Utah, originally created along with the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam. The lake is the United States' second-largest manmade reservoir, attracting more than two million vacationers each year to its shoreline attractions. Visitors can enjoy a plethora of outdoor recreational opportunities at the adjacent Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which is overseen as a unit of the National Park Service. Gorgeous landmarks within the recreation area include Rainbow Bridge, one of the world's largest natural bridges, which is protected as part of Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Anglers can enjoy opportunities to catch smallmouth and largemouth bass and channel catfish, while boaters can rent kayaks, canoes, and houseboats for exploration of the lake's waters.

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is one of California's top outdoor waterfront getaways, known as one of the Pacific Coast's most popular skiing destinations. The lake is surrounded by beautiful skiing areas that offer opportunities for cross-country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and snow tubing during the winter months, including the gorgeous Squaw Valley, the host site for the 1960 Winter Olympic Games. During the summer months, visitors flock to the lake's shoreline for watersports opportunities at areas like Kings Beach and Tahoe City. Visitors can enjoy chances for stand-up paddleboarding, parasailing, jet skiing, boating, and swimming on the lake's shores, with many companies offering boat and equipment rentals for tourists. On the lake's Nevada shoreline, lively casinos such as the Calneva, once owned by famed singer Frank Sinatra, offer 24-hour gambling experiences.

Lake Travis

Lake Travis is a beautiful manmade reservoir on the Colorado River, located just along the western end of the city of Austin at Mansfield Dam. The reservoir, which was filled in 1942, has become a top outdoor recreational destination for Austinites throughout the year, home to Texas' only clothing-optional beach at Hippie Hollow Park. It is widely considered to be one of Texas' most pristine lakes, known as a popular summer destination for swimmers, scuba divers, and boaters. The lake is well-stocked with largemouth and guadalupe bass, catfish, and sunfish throughout the year, making it an angler's paradise. On the lake's shores, ziplining adventures and overnight campsites offer fun for the entire family.

Lake Winnebago

Lake Winnebago is a scenic freshwater lake in east central Wisconsin, located near the cities of Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, Neenah, and Menasha. The lake is Wisconsin's largest lake entirely within its state boundaries, stretching over an area of more than 137,000 acres and offering 88 miles of visitor access shoreline. Preserved historic attractions along the lake's shores include the Niagara Escarpment, which was founded in 1634 by French settlers after contact with the region's Winnebago indigenous people. Pleasure boating is popular at areas such as Big Lake Butte de Morts, Poygan, and Winneconne, while hiking and camping are offered at lovely High Cliff State Park, which also preserves several indigenous effigy mounds. Lakeside Park, located in Fond du Lac, is home to a children's petting zoo and old-fashioned amusement rides, while Menominee Park offers boat launches, sporting facilities, and nature trails.

Norris Lake

Norris Lake is a charming manmade reservoir stretching across five counties in Tennessee, originally created in 1936 by the damming of the Clinch River at Norris Dam in 1936. The lake is named in honor of United States Senator George W. Norris, who drafted the legislation responsible for the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the reservoir's governing organization. Visitors can enjoy excellent fishing conditions on the lake's shores, which offer chances to catch black and striped bass, crappie, walleye, and sunfish. Watersports opportunities abound, including chances for boating and waterskiing. Nearby, over 15 miles of hiking and biking trails are offered at Big Ridge State Park, which also features overnight campsites and public swimming beaches.

Saratoga Lake

Saratoga Lake is a charming lake in eastern Saratoga County, New York, bordered by the lovely cities of Saratoga Springs, Malta, and Stillwater. The 4.5-mile-long lake is a top rowing hub in the state of New York, hosting major university races each year since the late 19th century. Visitors can enjoy excellent opportunities for boating and watersports throughout the year, including chances for wakeboarding, jet skiing, and inner tubing during the summer months. Anglers flock to the lake for smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing tournaments, while horse racing fans flood the nearby Saratoga Race Course during the late summer months. Nearby, Saratoga National Historic Park commemorates the site of the first United States victory during the American Revolutionary War.

West Okoboji Lake

West Okoboji Lake is of one Iowa's eight beautiful Great Lakes, located within Dickinson County near the cities of Okoboji, West Okoboji, Wahpeton, and Arnolds Park. The lake, which is named for a major Sioux indigenous tribal band that populated the area in the 19th century, offers 20 miles of visitor access shoreline and is one of Iowa's top summer recreational destinations. It holds the state record for largest catches of a variety of fish species, including smallmouth and white bass, northern pike, tiger muskie, and short nose gar. Visitors can enjoy excellent conditions for swimming, snorkeling, and watersports at several public beachfronts, open during the summer months. 14 miles of hiking and biking trails offer picturesque panoramas of the lakefront and informational displays elaborating on the region's flora and fauna. Nearby, Jackson Speedway hosts races during the summer months, while Arnold's Park is home to amusement rides and a live concert venue.

Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake is a lovely natural freshwater lake in northwestern Montana, located along the mainline of the Flathead River approximately seven miles from the city of Kalispell. The lake is the contiguous United States' largest freshwater lake by surface area west of the Missouri River and is considered to be one of the cleanest lakes in the world within populated areas. It is one of Montana's top fishing destinations, home to more than 25 species of game fish, ranging from pearmouth minnow and yellow perch to mackinaw, kokonee, and trophy bull trout. Outdoor recreational opportunities range from chances for boating, sailing, and swimming on the lake's waters to opportunities for hiking and biking at nearby Glacier National Park. The Flathead Valley has been named as one of the nation's top 50 golfing destinations by Golf Digest, home to spectacular golf courses and resorts. Annual special events in the region include the Flathead Lake Hoopfest and a spring Cherry Blossom Festival.

Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake is a gorgeous 468-acre lake in Auston, located at the easternmost point of a chain of manmade lakes along the route of the Colorado River. The reservoir was initially created with the opening of the Holly Street Power Plant, originally known as Town Lake but renamed in 2007 in honor of former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, an Austin-area resident. Today, it offers over 18 miles of gorgeous shoreline for recreation throughout the year, including angling for largemouth and black bass, northern pike, catfish, and sunfish. Hikers and bikers can explore the 10-mile Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail, which offers stunning waterfront views. Each summer, the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge is home to North America's largest urban colony of Mexican free-tailed bats, which attract spectators from around the world.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by area and the largest of North America's Great Lakes chain. It sits along the borders of the Canadian province of Ontario and the United States of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, known around the world for its rugged natural shorelines and world-class recreational opportunities. Visitors can enjoy boating and sailing adventures throughout the year at lovely areas such as Thunder Bay, which is home to two full-service marinas and a plethora of museums, restaurants, and art galleries in its downtown district. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is home to one of the world's most renowned natural wonders of the same name, which was awarded the People's Choice Awards as one of the Seven Wonders of Canada by CBC Television. Anglers can enjoy amazing opportunities for year-round fishing on the nearby Nipigon River, which is fully stocked with walleye, rainbow and brook trout, chinook, and pink salmon.

Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain straddles the United States-Canada border at the border between the states of New York and Vermont and the province of Quebec, known as one of New England's top outdoor getaways for families. The beautiful natural freshwater lake has been voted as one of North America's top family-friendly outdoor recreational destinations by USA Weekday, Outdoor Explorer, and Reader's Digest, offering more than 580 miles of shoreline access aviat a number of state and provincial parks. Visitors can enjoy opportunities for swimming, hiking, boating, and ice fishing at areas like Kamp Kill Kare State Park, located on Vermont's St. Albans Bay, or take public ferries to many of the lake's 71 scenic islands. Over 90 species of fish have been caught in the lake, making it one of the Eastern United States' top fishing destinations. Resort towns in the region include Burlington, Vermont, while historic attractions include the 1871 Bluff Point Lighthouse, which offers guided tours throughout the year.

Lake Charles

Lake Charles is a charming brackish lake within the route of southwest Louisiana's Calcasieu River, located almost entirely within the city limits of the town of the same name. The beautiful lake is a major route for commerce ship travel at the Calcasieu Ship Channel and offers a plethora of visitor attractions along its gorgeous shoreline. Visitors can attend more than 75 annual festivals at the lake each year, including a popular Mardi Gras celebration and the family-friendly Louisiana Pirate Festival. Downtown, the city's lovely Mardi Gras Museum details the history of the lively celebration, showcasing preserved costumes and decorations. Vibrant casinos line the lakeshore, along with award-winning golf courses, theatrical and musical venues, and outdoor attractions such as the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, which offers opportunities to spot native alligator species.