How Deep Is North Carolina’s Lake Norman?

Lake Norman
© KyleHohler/

Written by Kathryn Dueck

Updated: October 9, 2023

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Located in North Carolina, Lake Norman is the state’s largest artificial body of fresh water. It is notable for its reddish-brown hue and its role in providing essential power to the region. The reservoir covers a considerable area, but how deep is Lake Norman compared to its area? Read on to find out this and much more!

Lake Norman is the Deepest Lake in the Charlotte Area

How Deep Is Lake Norman?

Lake Norman averages 33.5 feet deep with a maximum depth of 112 feet. Its maximum depth occurs only at its outlet. It is longest from north to south with a width of nine miles. Interstate 77 and North Carolina Highway 150 both cross the lake.

The table below lists several measurements for Lake Norman:

Measurement TypeSize
Area50.80 square miles (132 km2)
Length33.6 miles (54.1 km)
Width9 miles (14 km)
Maximum Depth110 feet (34 m)
Average Depth33.5 feet (10.2 m)
Shore Length520 miles (840 km)
Height Above Sea Level760 feet (230 m)
Summary of Lake Norman’s measurements.

How Deep Is Lake Norman Compared to Other Well-Known American Lakes?

Below is a table comparing the depth of Lake Norman to the depths of several other well-known or sizeable American lakes. All measurements are in feet and indicate the depths of the lakes at their deepest points.

Lake Norman112 feet
Crater Lake1,949 feet
Lake Tahoe1,645 feet
Lake Superior1,332 feet
Lake Michigan922 feet
Lake Ontario802 feet
Lake Huron750 feet
Yellowstone Lake394 feet
Flathead Lake371 feet
Lake Winnipesaukee212 feet
Lake of the Woods210 feet
Lake Erie210 feet
Lake Pontchartrain65 feet
Great Salt Lake33 feet
Comparison of Lake Norman’s depth with the depths of other American lakes.

Where Is Lake Norman?

Lake Norman in the Piedmont of North Carolina

Lake Norman is located in the Charlotte area of North Carolina.


The reservoir known as Lake Norman is located in the Charlotte area of North Carolina. Lake Norman State Park encompasses 17 miles of its northern shoreline. The reservoir receives water from the Catawba River and drains southward into Mountain Island Lake. Because of its size and location, Lake Norman is known as North Carolina’s “inland sea.”

Several counties rely on Lake Norman for their water supply: Catawba County, Iredell County, Lincoln County, and Mecklenburg County. Notable towns within Mecklenburg include the county seat, Charlotte, and the towns of Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville.

Lake Norman State Park

Lake Norman State Park lies in Iredell County, about 40 miles north of Charlotte. It includes 17 miles of Lake Norman’s northern shoreline and 1,942 acres of wilderness. The park contains 38 miles of hiking trails and 30.5 miles of biking trails. Other popular activities include swimming, fishing, paddling, and picnicking. Camping facilities include camper cabins, tent sites, trailer and RV sites, and group tent sites. Visit the official Lake Norman website to learn more and plan a visit.

Animals in Lake Norman

A wide variety of animals call Lake Norman home. This includes several fish species:

  • Black bullhead (Ameiurus melas)
  • Black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)
  • Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus)
  • Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)
  • Bodie bass (Morone saxatilis crossed with Morone chrysops)
  • Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)
  • Flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris)
  • Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)
  • Sauger (Sander canadensis)
  • Smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu)
  • Spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus)
  • Striped bass (Morone saxatilis)
  • Walleye (Sander vitreus)
  • White bass (Morone chrysops)
  • White crappie (Pomoxis annularis)
  • White perch (Morone americana)
  • Yellow perch (Perca flavescens)
  • Yellowfin bream (Acanthopagrus australis)

Lake Norman also has a variety of other animals, like frogs, toads, turtles, and salamanders, as well as birds like red-tailed hawks, ravens, and ospreys. Additionally, it offers several mammals like white-tailed deer, coyotes, foxes, beavers, and squirrels.

The Lake Norman Monster

Like Loch Ness’s Nessie, Lake Norman has its monster, Normie. Many people have reported spotting this mythical creature in the reservoir waters. Most say it appears to be reptilian, like a massive crocodile with fins or flippers. Some believe the nearby nuclear power plant may have caused a mutation in Normie’s unusual size. Check out Normie’s official website for more information on this intriguing legend.

History of Lake Norman

Cowans Ford Dam

The construction of the Cowans Ford Dam between 1959 and 1964 created Lake Norman.

©James St. John / Flickr – Original / License

Before the arrival of Europeans in the area, Native American tribes lived in the area now known as Lake Norman. They also lived along the banks of the Catawba River. Archaeologists have unearthed several artifacts testifying to the existence of these indigenous peoples.

A Niagara Falls dam engineer originally devised the plans for the Cowans Ford Dam in the 1890s, though he would not propose them to James Buchanan Duke until 1905. Eventually, the Duke Power Company (originally the Catawba Power Company and now known as Duke Energy) built the dam across the Catawba River between 1959 and 1964. Lake Norman formed as a result of the dam. The reservoir was the seventh and biggest lake Duke created. The company named the lake after Norman Atwater Cocke, who served as president until his retirement in 1959.

The lake covers several notable sites and features. For example, certain graveyards had to be moved from the area, including the Cornelius Family Cemetery and the Hunters Chapel M. E. Zion Church Cemetery, to accommodate the new lake. A 1938 summer camp now lies buried beneath the water and the site of the 1781 Battle of Cowan’s Ford. Homesteads, plantations, highways, and airplanes once existed on the submerged land.

The Piedmont region of the Carolinas draws power from Lake Norman. The reservoir powers the generators at the Cowans Ford Dam hydroelectric station, provides power to the Marshall Steam Station, and cools the reactors at McGuire Nuclear Station.

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About the Author

Kathryn Dueck is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on wildlife, dogs, and geography. Kathryn holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical and Theological Studies, which she earned in 2023. In addition to volunteering at an animal shelter, Kathryn has worked for several months as a trainee dog groomer. A resident of Manitoba, Canada, Kathryn loves playing with her dog, writing fiction, and hiking.

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