Bodies of water enhance our lives in so many ways, whether they’re ponds or lakes. Regardless of whether we’re swimming, fishing, boating, or reading a book, they’re simple to enjoy. We’ll be discussing the biggest natural and man-made lakes in America in this article. We’re about to plunge from one gorgeous scenery to the next, so get ready!
Largest Lakes in the U.S.: Everything You Want to Know About Location, Size, and Activities
What is a Lake?
A lake is a body of water surrounded by land that is isolated from any other water outlet. Ponds and lakes are often confused. Lakes, which have no sunlight at the bottom, are much deeper than ponds. Aphotic zones are the parts of the ocean that do not get light.
Lakes may get their water from rivers, streams, and/or other lakes without being fed from another source. A lake of more than one acre is possible. A pond, on the other hand, is a body of water that covers less than 0.5 acres (0.2 hectares) and has a depth of less than 20 feet (6 meters).
Natural Lakes vs Manmade Lakes
A body of water that has no evidence of a dam is considered to be a natural lake. Even if there is a dam to change the depth of the lake, there is additional information indicating that it is natural.
Receding glaciers melt and fill bowl-shaped basins, creating many natural lakes. During the most recent ice age, approximately 18,000 lakes covered the planet’s surface.
Reservoirs or dams are frequently associated with man-made lakes, which are bodies of water that have been built. A dam is used to divert parts of a river into a reservoir, where water is stored.
Saltwater or Freshwater?
The oceans and seas are home to the majority of saltwater, although lakes also have some. Water’s salinity is due to the sodium chloride it contains. Swimming in a saltwater lake is doable. You may, however, find that you float more than swim depending on the amount of salt in the water. Saltwater covers around 97.5% of the planet’s surface.
Freshwater comes from the earth in various ways, mostly naturally. It accounts for 2.5% of the world’s water supply, and it is common in rivers, wells, streams, ponds, lakes, and wetlands.
Different Types of Lakes
Is there more than one kind of? Yes, I agree.
Organic lakes The activity of flora or animals creates the soil. For instance, as a result of beaver activity, a reservoir may be built.
Volcanic lakes Volcanic craters are the source of these formations.
Glacial lakes The melt-off of glaciers is what creates them.
Tectonic lakes The earth’s tilting motions are what create them.
Fluvial lakes The moving water of rivers is what creates them.
Landslide lakes When a river is naturally stopped by debris from a rock avalanche, landslide, mudflow, or volcanic eruption, it is called a natural dam.
Solution lakes The creation of holes that fill with enough precipitation is called aquifer development when the bedrock is solvable and dissolution of the bedrock by precipitation and penetrating water produces it.
Aeolian lakes When layers of sand act as natural dams, the result is wind activity.
Shoreline lakes Along coasts, between islands and the mainland, and sometimes between them. Wave currents might produce them.
Anthropogenic Lakes, Human activities, such as dams and reservoirs, have resulted in a direct or indirect effect.
Meteorite lakes, In the depressions left by a meteor or asteroid colliding with the Earth’s surface, crater lakes are created.
Largest Lakes in the US
1. Lake Superior (Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota)
Lake Superior covers 20,287,963 acres (8,210,247 hectares) and has 3 quadrillion gallons of water. Together with the other Great Lakes lakes, it is the biggest body of freshwater in the world. Around 200 rivers supply water to it, including the Nipigon and St. The rivers of Louis It’s one of the five Great Lakes, along with Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. It has a 1,332-foot-deep (406-meter) section.
The northern border of Wisconsin, the upper Michigan peninsula, the eastern border of Minnesota, or Ontario, Canada are all options for getting to Lake Superior. There are a variety of things to do during your visit, depending on where you’re from. Swimming, boating, trekking, picnics, and other water-related activities. For one of the world’s biggest lakes, it isn’t too shabby.
Since its birth, Lake Superior has been dealing with the consequences of humans. The industrial revolution, the collapse of commercial fisheries, phytoplankton blooms, high water levels, and decreased ice cover are all examples of issues.
Duluth, Superior, and Marquette are big US cities that border Lake Superior. Museums, activities, outdoor leisure, shopping, dining, wining, spas, hotels, and transportation are all available.
2. Lake Huron (Michigan)
The second biggest of the five Great Lakes, Lake Huron is one of the five. It has about 800 billion gallons of water and 3,830 miles (9,920 square kilometers) of coastline, including 30,000 islands, covering 23,000 square miles (59,570 square kilometers). Lake Huron has a maximum depth of 751 feet (229 meters). This lake may also be seen from Canada.
Lake Michigan and Lake Superior provide water to Lake Huron. This lake may be located in west Michigan, as well as Ontario’s north and east. The turquoise water, beaches, and swimming are all popular attractions.
Major threats to Lake Huron include habitat loss, habitat degradation, and habitat fragmentation. Bay City, Port Huron, and Alpena are the three largest cities bordering Lake Huron.
3. Lake Michigan (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan)
No surprise that another Great Lakes lake is ranked third. It is the only one of the Great Lakes to be fully in America. Lake Michigan is 14,339,503 acres (5,802,991 hectares) and holds a quadrillion gallons of water. It has around 1,600 miles (2,575 kilometers) of shoreline. It has a depth of 922 feet (281 meters).
Through the Straits of Mackinac, this lake drains into Lake Huron. A boulder with a mastodon carving has been discovered at the bottom of Lake Michigan, among other historical artifacts.
Invasive species, toxins, water diversion, wetland destruction, sewage overflows, and climate change are all problems that plague Lake Michigan like they do all of the Great Lakes. Seven cities along Lake Michigan have a lot of indoor and outdoor activities, including Chicago, Waukegan, Gary, Traverse City, Green Bay, Kenosha, and Milwaukee.
4. Lake Erie (Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York)
You may also spend some quality time at Lake Erie in Ontario, Canada, in addition to the four states mentioned above. It contains 871 miles (1,402 kilometers) of coastline and 127.6 trillion gallons of water, covering 6,361,471 acres (2,574,396 hectares). It is the 11th biggest lake in the world by surface area, despite being roughly 210 feet (64 meters) deep.
The Detroit River provides the majority of Lake Erie’s water. It is the shallowest of the Great Lakes, despite having a depth of 62 feet (19 meters). There are over 26 islands in this lake, so there is plenty of sunbathing, swimming, and splashing. Cleveland, Buffalo, Toledo, Mento, Norwalk, and Port Clinton are all good places to visit for more things to do.
Land usage, heavy exploitation of Lake Erie’s natural resources, chemical and biological contaminants, and non-native invasive species are all posing significant threats to the ecosystem.
5. Lake Ontario (New York)
The only body of water where two places meet in the center is Lake Ontario, which is unique. On the north, west, and southwest sides, it is surrounded by Ontario. It lies at the foot of Niagara Falls in New York.
The Great Lakes’ fifth, which spans 4,685,111 acres (1,895,997 hectares) and has a shoreline of 6 quadrillion gallons of water, is 801 feet (244 meters) deep and covers an area of 4,685. It empties into the Niagara River after getting its water from Lake Erie.
Urban expansion, power production, and sewage and stormwater contamination are the three greatest threats to Lake Ontario. Lake Ontario is surrounded by just one American city, Rochester. Toronto, Kingston, Mississauga, and Hamilton are among the cities close to the lake.
6. Great Salt Lake (Utah)
The Great Salt Lake is the world’s eighth biggest lake, and it is appropriately named. It is the world’s greatest saltwater lake. Salt Lake City, Utah is where you’ll find it. The lake spans 1,087,262 acres (439,999 hectares) and has 326,000 gallons of water along its 10,000-mile (16,093-kilometer) shoreline.
Four rivers and various streams supply water to Great Salt Lake, which is in turn supplied by many sources. It has a depth of 14 to 33 feet (4 to 10 meters). This lake’s distinct ecosystem attracts migrating birds.
Antelope Island State Park and Great Salt Lake State Park are two of the parks that make up the Great Salt Lake. Hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and picnics are all popular activities on the lake. Great Salt Lake is shared by Box Elder, Davis, Tooele, Weber, and Salt Lake counties.
The lake is threatened by suburban growth, highways along the Lake’s coasts, water diversions out of the Lake, rivers, and streams that flow into it, mining pollution, municipal runoff, and sewage discharge. A planned dam on the Bear River, which would decrease stream flows into Great Salt Lake, has also been a source of worry.
7. Lake of the Woods (Minnesota)
The town and county of the same name in Minnesota are home to Lake of the Woods. This forest waterscape getaway is made up of over 14,552 islands. Lake of the Woods has 65,000 miles (104,607 kilometers) of coastline, 950,400 acres (384,613 hectares), and a 210-foot-deep (64-meter) basin containing 142.917.090 gallons of water.
Fishing, canoeing, and outdoor relaxation are all available on the lake. Wildlife also benefits from this habitat. Walleye, northern pike, perch, sauger, carp, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, lake trout, lake sturgeon, whitefish and sucker are just a few of the species you’ll find. It sounds like a fisherman’s dream.
Threats to Lake of the Woods include contaminants, excess nutrients, and harmful algae that is lethal to fish, birds, animals, and people. Parts of Ontario and Manitoba in Canada are also home to Lake of the Woods.
8. Lake Iliamna (Alaska)
Welcome to the End of the Line! Alaska’s biggest lake, covering 647,999 acres (262,236 hectares), has a 283-mile (455-kilometer) shoreline and is 984 feet (300 meters) deep. The lake drains into Bristol Bay, and the Kvichak River provides a large portion of its water. Lake Iliamna is close to both Katmai National Park and Preserve and Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.
The lake’s resident 30-foot (9 meters) monster, Illie, is well-known throughout the region. Maybe it’s just one of the countless whales that may be seen in Lake Iliamna. Fishing, boating, bush plane chartering, hiking, and wildlife viewing are all available in the area.
The two main concerns for the lake are large-scale mining activities and climate change. New Haven, Kokhanok, Igiugig, and of course Iliamna are towns and villages near Lake Iliamna. These locations are surrounded by nature, which makes them ideal for nature enthusiasts.
9. Lake Oahe (North and South Dakota)
Behind Oahe Dam on the Missouri River is Lake Oahe, a big reservoir. It stretches 370,000 acres (149,734 hectares) across central South Dakota and northern North Dakota. It has a length of 2,250 miles (3,621 kilometers) and a maximum depth of 205 feet (62 meters).
In the United States, it is the fourth biggest reservoir. Lake Oahe and the reason 1.5 million people visit each year offer a variety of recreational activities including camping, picnicking, fishing, hunting, boating, water skiing, swimming, and hiking. The many people swimming and spearfishing in the Oahe Dam’s choppy waters are what make this lake a danger.
A few of the towns around Lake Oahe are Pierre, Fort Pierre, Mobridge, Pollock, and Bismarck. To increase the number of activities in the region, there are smaller towns near the lake.
10. Lake Okeechobee (Florida)
We’ve traveled to Alaska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas in the wintery depths. Now it’s time to take a break from the cold and sun in sunny Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. It’s no surprise gators feel at home here, covering 467,199 acres (189,069 hectares) and having a shoreline of 135 miles (217 kilometers), with one trillion gallons of water.
Glades, Okeechobee, Martin, Palm Beach, and Hendry counties all have access to Lake Okeechobee. The lake’s principal source of water is the Kissimmee River, which is the third biggest freshwater lake in the country.
Pollutants are present in the water that drains from Lake Okeechobee, which causes algae that is harmful to humans and animals. Since the lake isn’t shared by multiple cities, you’ll have to go there if you want to utilize it. Okeechobee, Florida is the location of this event.
Additional Lakes Found in the US
Although not as big as our top 10, the lakes listed below have more than earned their place on this list because of their unique features.
11. Lake Pontchartrain (Louisiana)
Lake Pontchartrain is located in Louisiana and surrounds the world’s longest causeway bridge. It is 14 feet (4 meters) deep and covers 125,000 acres (50,586 hectares), covering 125 miles (201 kilometers) of shoreline. Lake Maurepas, the Tangipahoa and Tchefuncte Rivers, Bayous Lacombe and Bonfouca canals, and saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico provide water to the lake.
12. Fort Peck Lake (Montana)
The Missouri River feeds into Fort Peck Lake, which covers 245,000 acres (99,148 hectares) in Glasgow, Montana. Its shoreline miles are 1,520 (2446 kilometers), and it may reach depths of up to 220 feet (67 meters) below the surface.
13. Salton Sea (California)
14. Lake Tahoe (California and Nevada)
With 105,000 acres (42,492 hectares) and depths of 1,645 feet (501 meters), the biggest alpine lake in North America is formed by seventy-two shoreline miles and 37 trillion gallons of water. The runoff from 63 tributaries supplies 65% of Lake Tahoe’s water, while rain provides the remaining 35%.
15. Pyramid Lake (Nevada)
Lake Tahoe is the source of a significant amount of water that flows into Pyramid Lake. Pyramid Lake measures 21 miles (34 kilometers) of coastline and spans 125,000 acres (50,586 hectares) with 344-foot (105-meter) depths. It’s Nevada’s biggest natural lake, according to the state.
16. Sam Rayburn Reservoir (Texas)
70 miles (113 kilometers) north of Beaumont, the Sam Rayburn Reservoir is located. The Angelina River supplies water to the reservoir, which is 80 feet (24 meters) deep and can hold 3,997,600 acre-feet of water. Over 750 miles (1,207 kilometers) of coastline exist along the top of the conservation pool.
17. Eufaula Lake (Oklahoma)
From McIntosh County to Pittsburg County to Haskell County, and then into Okmulgee County, this 600-mile (966-kilometer) lake stretches. The Canadian, North Fork Canadian, and Deep Fork rivers are all water sources for the city. It has a maximum depth of 87 feet (27 meters) and covers 105,500 acres (42,694 hectares).
18. Lake Pend Oreille (Idaho)
With 111 miles (179 kilometers) of shoreline and depths reaching 1,150 feet (351 meters) in certain places, Lake Pend Oreille is Idaho’s biggest lake. The Clark Fork River and the Pack River provide water to the lake, which drains into the Pend Oreille River.
19. Yellowstone Lake (Wyoming)
Yellowstone Lake is fed by 141 tributaries and one river, the Yellowstone River. The lake is 395 feet (120 meters) deep, covers 453 acres (183 hectares), and has 141 miles (666 kilometers) of shoreline. It holds four trillion gallons of water.
20. Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake (Washington)
It stretches 375 feet (114 meters) deep, covers 80,000 acres (32,375 hectares), and contains more than 814 billion gallons of water at its largest point. It stretches 600 miles (966 kilometers) along the shoreline. The Columbia River is responsible for about 89% of Lake Roosevelt’s water. The Colville, Kettle, and Sanpoil Rivers contribute 7% of its water, with the Spokane River contributing 4%.
21. Moosehead Lake (Maine)
Moosehead Lake is 246 feet (75 meters) deep and receives its water from Moosehead River but also the Kennebec River. It covers almost 75,000 acres (30,351 hectares) with 400 shoreline miles and holds about two billion gallons of water.
22. Lake Strom Thurmond (Georgia and South Carolina)
On the Savannah, Broad, and Little Rivers, it borders Georgia and South Carolina. It is capable of holding about 815 billion gallons of water at its greatest depth, covering 1,200 miles (1,931 kilometers) of coastline, 71,100 acres (28,773 hectares).
23. Lake Guntersville (Alabama)
Lake Guntersville, at 594 feet (181 meters) above sea level, is capable of reaching 60 feet (18 meters) in depth. This lake may be found in the southern part of Alabama’s Jackson and Marshall counties. It is 67,900 acres (27,478 hectares) and covers 890 miles (1,432 kilometers) of shoreline. The lake’s sole water source is the Tennessee River.
Fun and Interesting Facts on Biggest Lakes in the US
- Alaska is the state with the most natural lakes, having 3,197 named lakes and three million unnamed lakes.
- With 15,291 named lakes, Minnesota leads the way.
- With 15,074 lakes, Minnesota is the third highest in the state, following Wisconsin.
- Michigan has 11,000 lakes.
- No natural lakes exist in Maryland, making it the only state in the country without them.
- Pacific Tarn, at 13,435 feet (4,094 meters) above sea level, is the highest lake in the United States.
- The world’s biggest fresh surface water system, the Great Lakes, are almost 22% large.
- The most man-made lakes are found in Oklahoma.
- Crater Lake in Oregon is the United States’ deepest lake, at 1,949 feet (594 meters) deep.
- There are a total of 111,119 lakes in the US with natural lakes making up 52% and manmade lakes making up 48%.
- With so many lakes around the globe, understanding all about them might be complicated, yet we may delight in their loveliness, appreciate their biodiversity, and be grateful for everything they create.