The 10 Best Nevada Lakes for Swimming

Lake Tahoe
© topseller/Shutterstock.com

Written by Patrick Sather

Updated: June 14, 2023

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When most people think of Nevada, they think of gambling, entertainment, and desert landscapes. However, The Silver State also possesses incredible natural beauty. Mountains, forests, and meandering rivers run throughout the state. Nevada also has numerous lakes around the state, some of which function as popular swimming holes. Here’s a list of the 10 best lakes for swimming in Nevada. 

Infographic of 10 Best Nevada Lakes for Swimming

Lake Mead and Lake Tahoe are among the top lakes for swimming in Nevada.

©

10. Pyramid Lake

You can find Pyramid Lake around 40 miles northeast of Reno, Nevada. This geographic sink along the Truckee River measures encompasses 125,000 acres, most of which lie within the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Reservation. The lake is all that’s left of Lake Lahontan, the giant ancient sea that used to cover most of Nevada. 

Pyramid Lake gets its name from the large pyramid-shaped limestone formation found in the southeastern corner of the lake. If you want to visit the lake to swim or fish, you’ll need to secure a valid tribal permit. Once you gain access to the lake, you can enjoy various activities, including boating, fishing, camping, and swimming.

Vaquero Beach ranks as the most popular tourist location on Pyramid Lake. Located just below the Vista del Lago Visitor Center, it has a wide sandy beach popular with families. Additional amenities at the beach include boat rentals, picnic benches, and restrooms. 

Pyramid Lake Nevada

Pyramid Lake gets its name from the large pyramid-shaped limestone formation in its southeastern corner.

©iStock.com/gchapel

9. Lake Mohave

Lake Mohave is situated on the border of Nevada and Arizona along the Colorado River. This 28,260-acre reservoir measures 4 miles wide and 75 feet deep on average. 

Created in 1951, Lake Mohave primarily functions as a means of regulating water released from the Hoover Dam on its way to Mexico. However, following the completion of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in 1964, the lake quickly turned into a popular tourist destination. Today, many people visit Lake Mohave to swim, boat, fish, and scuba dive. 

Lake Mohave’s location and warm water mean you can swim in the lake year-round. The lake’s clear water makes it a popular sight both for swimming as well as for sightseeing and photography. On the Nevada (western) side of the lake, swimmers often flock to popular swimming spots such as Area de Playa, Six Mile Cove, and Cottonwood Cove. 

Lake Mohave Nevada

Lake Mohave’s location and warm water mean you can swim in the lake year-round.

©Norm Lane/Shutterstock.com

8. Cave Lake

Located in eastern Nevada, Cave Lake lies within the Schell Creek Range next to Humboldt National Forest. This 32-acre reservoir resides within Cave Lake State Park, approximately five miles southeast of the city of Ely. 

During the winter, the lake freezes over, and visitors come to the lake for ice fishing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ice and snow sculpture contests. Meanwhile, popular activities at the lake in the summer include trout fishing, camping, picnicking, hiking, and swimming.

Cave Lake, Nevada

Cave Lake is a popular spot for trout fishing in the summer.

©N Walters, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons – Original

7. Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe straddles the border between Nevada and California just west of Carson City. Situated 6,225 above sea level and measuring 191 square miles, Lake Tahoe ranks as the largest alpine lake in North America. With a maximum depth of 1,645 feet, it also ranks as the second-deepest lake in the U.S. after Crater Lake in Oregon.

Nearly 3 million people visit Lake Tahoe each year, making it one of the most popular lakes in the U.S. Numerous tourism-related industries exist around the lake, including restaurants, casinos, ski resorts, and golf courses. 

The Nevada side of the lake features several popular swimming spots. Sand Harbor lies on the northeastern shore of the lake. The shallow water makes it a great spot for small children, but you can also find boulders near the shore where you can jump into deeper water. For a more risqué outing, you can head to Secret Cove, the unofficial nude beach on Lake Tahoe. You can access this small, tucked-away beach via a mile-long trail off Highway 28 just three miles south of Sand Harbor. 

Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America

Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America with a maximum depth of 1,645 feet.

©Madhu Gopal/Shutterstock.com

6. Angel Lake

At the northern end of the East Humboldt Range in northeastern Nevada lies Angel Lake. You can reach this small, 13-acre glacial tarn via the scenic State Route 231 from the city of Wells in Elko County. 

Steep cliffs surround the lake on three sides. A 26-site campground and 11 picnic areas cover most of the eastern shore of the lake. Many people come to the lake to fish or to use non-motorized watercraft. While the lake doesn’t possess a sandy beach, you can jump into the lake from pretty much anywhere and swim in its cool, clear water. 

Angel Lake, Nevada

Angel Lake, Elko County, Nevada.

©Dorian Wallender, CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr – Original / License

5. Echo Canyon Reservoir

Echo Canyon Reservoir is a man-made lake located around 12 miles east of Pioche, Nevada. Echo Canyon State Park surrounds this 65-acre reservoir, which was formed in 1970 due to the construction of the Echo Canyon Dam. A key site along the historic Mormon Trail, the reservoir primarily functions as a water storage and flood control facility.

Today, many people come to Echo Canyon Reservoir to engage in recreational activities. Popular activities at the reservoir include camping, boating, fishing, hiking, and swimming. You can swim along the shores of the reservoir and enjoy views of the nearby scenery and wildlife, which consists mainly of waterfowl like herons, mallards, and teals. 

Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos)

Echo Canyon Reservoir provides visitors with beautiful views of scenery and wildlife such as mallard ducks.

©iStock.com/Rudolf Ernst

4. Spooner Lake 

Located within Lake Tahoe – Nevada State Park, Spooner Lake is a man-made reservoir in the Carson Range of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. This 100-acre lake functions mainly as a source of irrigation water, but also offers visitors the chance to engage in numerous recreational activities. 

More than 50 miles of biking and hiking trails surround the lake through rugged country dominated by aspen trees. Other popular activities in the summer include fishing, camping, and swimming. Alternatively, you can visit the lake in winter for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. 

Spooner Lake, Nevada

Spooner Lake is a man-made reservoir in the Carson Range of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range.

©iStock.com/DigitalFilmWorks

3. Lake Mead

Formed by the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead is a massive man-made reservoir on the Colorado River. At 26,134,000 acre-feet, Lake Mead ranks as the largest reservoir in the U.S. by water capacity. The lake represents an extremely important water resource for residents of Arizona, California, and Nevada. 

While it mostly functions as a source of irrigation and drinking water, Lake Mead is also an extremely popular tourist destination. Millions of people come to the lake every year to fish, boat, water ski, hike, camp, and swim. 

There are some many excellent places to swim on the Nevada side of Lake Mead. Lake Mead National Recreation Area features lots of secluded beaches where you can enjoy a peaceful and quiet swim. On the other hand, you can head to Boulder Beach on the western shores of the lake. This rocky beach and campground has bathroom facilities and plenty of space to swim, tube, or raft on the water. 

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Millions of people come to Lake Mead every year to fish, boat, water ski, hike, camp, and swim. 

©CrackerClips Stock Media/Shutterstock.com

2. Walker Lake

Located in the Wassuk Range in western Nevada, Walker Lake is a natural lake in northwestern Mineral County. The Walker River feeds this 50-square-mile lake on its northern side, while the community of Walker Lake rests on the lake’s southern shore. 

For over half a century, Walker Lake functioned as an important tourist and recreation destination in the region. However, poor water conservation throughout the 20th century severely reduced the size and volume of the lake. Today, few fish remain in the lake, although the lake still attracts visitors who want to swim, camp, boat, and sightsee. 

The Walker Lake Recreation Area rests on the western shore of the lake. Sportsman’s Beach features 31 individual camp sites as well as toilets, picnic tables, and grills. 

Walker Lake Nevada

Though few fish remain in Walker Lake it is still a popular location for swimming, camping, boating, and sightseeing. 

©iStock.com/Christopher Thienel

1. Sparks Marina Park Lake

Sparks Marina Park is located in Sparks, Nevada, at 300 Howards Drive. The park features a 77-acre lake fed by a naturally occurring aquifer that replenishes the lake with 2 to 3 million gallons of fresh water every day. Many people come to this lovely freshwater lake to windsurf, sail, fish, scuba dive, and swim. 

Around the lake, you can find numerous amenities, including a dog park, sand volleyball courts, picnic areas, playgrounds, and showers. During the summer, you can visit the concession stand to pick up treats or attend one of the many special events held just off the shore. 

Sparks Marina Park Lake

Sparks Marina Park features a 77-acre lake fed by a naturally occurring aquifer.

©iStock.com/gchapel

Summary of the 10 Best Nevada Lakes for Swimming

Here’s a recap of the top 10 lakes for swimming in the state of Nevada.

RankLakeLocation
1Sparks Marina Park LakeSparks
2Walker LakeWassuk Range in western Nevada
3Lake Mead30 miles east of Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert
4Spooner LakeWithin Lake Tahoe – Nevada State Park
5Echo Canyon Reserve2 miles east of Pioche
6Angel LakeNorthern end of the East Humboldt Range in northeastern Nevada
7Lake TahoeStraddles the border between Nevada and California just west of Carson City
8Cave LakeIn eastern Nevada, within the Schell Creek Range next to Humboldt National Forest
9Lake MohaveOn the border of Nevada and Arizona along the Colorado River
10Pyramid Lake40 miles northeast of Reno


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