- At an incredible 1,943 feet, Oregon’s Crater Lake is the number one deepest lake in the U.S.
- The second deepest lake in the United States is 1,645-foot-deep Lake Tahoe on the border between California and Nevada.
- Of the 15 deepest U.S. lakes, four are located in Alaska, and three are in Michigan.
There’s something haunting and mysterious about gazing into the blue expanse of a huge, ancient lake, and wondering what lies under the surface in the abyss below. The ocean is one thing, but it’s unbelievable to think about just how deep the 15 deepest lakes in the United States can be. Some have been created by glaciers or volcanoes, and some are remnants from the ice age millions of years ago.
There are plenty of deep lakes spread across the globe. From Russia’s famous Lake Baikal down to Lake Matano in Indonesia, these water-filled inland basins provide a home to thousands of ecosystems and offer rich water sources to millions of people around the globe. There are hundreds of thousands of natural and man-made lakes located in different states in the United States alone.
These lakes vary in surface area and depth, so which lakes do you think are the deepest in the United States? If you are looking to see or experience a deep lake, the good news is you won’t have to travel across continents to find one.
This article will explore the 15 deepest lakes in the U.S. and other fascinating facts about them.
The 15 Deepest Lakes In The United States
Before we begin, here’s a list of the 15 deepest lakes in the United States as of 2022:
- Crater Lake, Oregon (1,949 feet)
- Lake Tahoe, Nevada/California (1,645 feet)
- Lake Chelan, Washington (1,486 feet)
- Lake Superior, Michigan/Wisconsin/Minnesota (1,333 feet)
- Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho (1,150 feet)
- Illiamna, Alaska (988 feet)
- Tustumena, Alaska (950 feet)
- Lake Michigan, Illinois/Indiana/Wisconsin/Michigan (923 feet)
- Lake Clark, Alaska (870 feet)
- Lake Ontario, New York (802 feet)
- Lake Huron, Michigan (751 feet)
- Lake Oroville, California (722 feet)
- Dworshak Reservoir, Idaho (630 feet)
- Lake Crescent, Washington (624 feet)
- Lake Seneca (618 feet)
Now that we’ve seen the 15 deepest lakes in the United States, let’s take a look at some of the most fascinating lakes across the country, ranging from 1,943 feet to some shallower lakes that are still worth your attention. You might notice that the water levels in these lakes throughout various regions of the U.S. tend to change over the seasons and years, sometimes significantly, which has shuffled this list to where we stand now in 2022.
1. Crater Lake, Oregon — 1,949 Feet
Crater Lake ranks ninth as the deepest lake globally, and it’s also the deepest lake in the United States. Crater Lake has a maximum depth of 1,949 feet and is known for its incredibly blue-hued waters. Despite the lake’s depth, it still manages to keep its rich blue hue as there are no other entrances or waterways to deliver salt, debris, or mineral deposits into the lake.
The lake’s water is completely fine and pristine as all its water comes directly from snow or rain. As Crater Lake preserves all its 18.7 cubic kilometers of water pure and clean, it is also considered one of Earth’s cleanest and clearest lakes. The lake is an actual crater lake and also boasts a fine beauty, making it one of the most visited and sought-after attractions in the Crater National Park, where tourists can experience swimming in approved spots.
2. Lake Tahoe, Nevada/California — 1,645 Feet
Measuring a maximum depth of 1,645 feet, Lake Tahoe ranks as the second deepest lake in the country. Lake Tahoe sits in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, between Nevada and California. With a volume of 150.7 cubic kilometers, it is also one of the largest lakes in the country by water volume. It also separates itself from other lakes in the U.S. because of its famous pure water. Lake Tahoe contains one of the cleanest waters globally with a percentage of 99.994%, just a few points behind distilled water with 99.998% standard purity.
3. Lake Chelan, Washington — 1,486 Feet
Lake Chelan ranks as the third deepest lake in the United States, the sixth deepest in North America, and the 25th in the world. The lake is comprised of two basins, with one significantly shallower than the other. Its deepest point measures 1,486 feet or 453 meters down, located at its second basin. Lake Chelan is narrow, measuring about 50.5 miles long, and is located in Chelan County, Washington. Lake Chelan also holds the title of the largest lake in the state in all categories. A range of mountains surrounding the glacier-fed lake also enhances its natural beauty.
4. Lake Superior, Michigan/Wisconsin/Minnesota — 1,333 Feet
The largest and deepest among the five North American Great Lakes is Lake Superior. It also holds the highest water volume, which isn’t surprising as it contains 10% of the Earth’s freshwater. Apart from the lake’s expansive surface area, it also boasts an incredible depth of 1,333 feet or 406 meters, making it the fourth deepest lake in the U.S. and the eighth deepest in North America. Lake Superior has a wowing surface area of 31,700 square miles, with a water volume of 2,900 cubic miles. It is said that emptying the lake at its current flow rate would take almost two centuries! Despite the lake’s breathtaking depth, it still prides itself on crystal clear waters with an average underwater visibility of 27 feet or 8.2 meters. Lake Superior touches three U.S. states — Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota — and the province of Ontario in Canada.
Lake Superior is also known as a critical shipping lane and thousands of ships move across it every year. It is also known for its intense storms and dangerous waters. The southern shore of this fourth deepest great lake is known as the Graveyard of Ships and hundreds of wrecks lie on the bottom. The deep water of Lake Superior is unusually cold, which preserves these wrecks in pristine condition.
5. Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho — 1,150 Feet
With a maximum depth that reaches 1,150 feet, Lake Pend Oreille in the Northern Idaho Panhandle ranks as the fifth deepest lake in the United States and ninth in North America. Lake Pend Oreille measures 383 square kilometers in surface area, making it the biggest lake in Idaho. The lake also boasts an impressive history that started as early as the Ice Age. As melted glaciers formed it, this natural lake has provided water and other functions since pre-recorded history.
6. Iliamna Lake, Alaska — 988 Feet
The Iliamna Lake is the largest lake in Alaska and the third largest lake completely within U.S. territory. Its deepest point measures up to 988 feet or 301 meters and contains a water volume of 27.2 cubic miles or 115 cubic kilometers. It also ranks as the 24th largest lake in North America, with a surface area of 2,622 square kilometers.
7. Tustumena Lake, Alaska — 950 Feet
Coming in at number seven, Lake Tustumena, located in Alaska, is 950 feet deep and it measures a whopping 73,437 acres! Located on the Kenai Peninsula, Lake Tustumena is 25 miles long and 6 miles wide. With no roads making the lake accessible by car, access to the lake can only be obtained by the Kasilof River. Due to its proximity to the Tustumena Glacier, the lake experiences significant high winds, which makes safety a challenge for those in small boats. This water body is primarily used for game hunting and the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race.
8. Lake Michigan, Illinois/Indiana/Wisconsin/Michigan — 923 Feet
Lake Michigan is one of the largest lakes in the United States that is entirely within the country’s territory. Unlike the other Great Lakes, Lake Michigan does not touch other regions in North America except the states of Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan. With a maximum depth of 923 feet or 281 meters, it is one of the deepest lakes in the U.S. and North America. The lake has plenty of tributaries that help fill the lake’s one quadrillion gallons of water.
9. Lake Clark, Alaska — 870 Feet
At 870 feet in depth, Lake Clark in Alaska was named after John W. Clark of Nushagak, AK, one of the first Euroamerican residents in Alaska. He, along with Albert B. Schanz and Vasili Shishkin, traveled to the area and no doubt were in awe of this stunning water body. Part of a national park and preserve, Lake Clark is 40 miles long and five miles wide and is located in southwest Alaska.
10. Lake Ontario, New York/Ontario — 802 Feet
While Lake Ontario is the smallest among the five Great Lakes by surface area, it sure is one of the deepest among all lakes in the U.S. Having the deepest point of 802 feet or 244 meters, Lake Ontario has one of the deepest points in North America. This Great Lake is shared by two countries – the United States and Canada – through New York and Ontario.
11. Lake Huron, Michigan/Ontario — 751 Feet
The second-largest North American Great Lake is Lake Huron, one of the United States’ deepest lakes, with the deepest point measuring 751 feet or 230 meters down. It is located in Michigan as well as in Ontario, Canada. Lake Huron connects indirectly to Lake Michigan via the 5-mile-wide, 120-feet-deep Strait of Mackinac. When measured by surface area, Lake Huron snags the fourth spot among the largest lakes on the planet.
12. Lake Oroville, California — 722 feet
Located in California, Lake Oroville is actually a reservoir with a maximum depth of 722 feet. It’s the second largest reservoir in the state, and the water level is controlled by Oroville Dam, which is the tallest dam in the United States. In the summer, the water temps can climb as high as 78 degrees F! Lake Oroville is a recreational lake known for boating and fishing. Types of fish in the lake include salmon, trout, sturgeon, catfish, crappie and more.
13. Dworshak Reservoir, Idaho — 630 feet
At 630 feet deep, Dworshak Reservoir in Idaho claims its spot at number 13 on this list. Visitors can enjoy boating, fishing and other water activities on the reservoir as well as hiking, hunting and camping on its surrounding grounds. The reservoir is located roughly three miles north of Dworshak Dam and a visitors’ center.
14. Lake Crescent, Washington — 624 Feet
Known as the second deepest lake in Washington, Lake Crescent has a maximum depth of 624 feet. Formed by glaciers, Lake Crescent has pristine waters that are bright blue in color. This is due to the lack of nitrogen in the water, which means there’s no algae formed. Located in Olympic National Park, Lake Crescent and the surrounding area is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts.
15. Seneca Lake, New York — 618 Feet
Boasting a maximum depth of 618 feet or 188 meters, Seneca Lake makes it to the top 15 deepest lakes in the U.S. Seneca Lake is the deepest glacial lake in New York, but it is also famous for its lake trout abundance. It is dubbed the lake trout capital of the world and hosts the annual National Lake Trout Derby. Seneca Lake is among the Finger Lakes in New York, and the second-longest among the eleven featured narrow lakes.
15 Deepest U.S. Lakes Summary (2023 Update)
|#1||Crater Lake||Oregon||1,949 feet|
|#2||Lake Tahoe||Nevada/California||1,645 feet|
|#3||Lake Chelan||Washington||1,486 feet|
|#4||Lake Superior||Michigan/Wisconsin/Minnesota||1,333 feet|
|#5||Lake Pend Oreille||Idaho||1,150 feet|
|#6||Illiamna Lake||Alaska||988 feet|
|#7||Tustumena Lake||Alaska||950 feet|
|#8||Lake Michigan||Wisconsin/Michigan||923 feet|
|#9||Lake Clark||Alaska||870 feet|
|#10||Lake Ontario||New York||802 feet|
|#11||Lake Huron||Michigan||751 feet|
|#12||Lake Oroville||California||722 feet|
|#13||Dworshak Reservoir||Idaho||630 feet|
|#14||Lake Crescent||Washington||624 feet|
|#15||Lake Seneca||New York||618 feet|
What is the Clearest Lake in the United States?
When it comes to bodies of water and categorizing them, finding which lake is the clearest is a difficult quality to measure; however, Lake Tahoe has been found to be the number one for clearest water! That may come as no surprise because of the lake’s reputation for being a resort destination. When people think of Lake Tahoe they think of the ultimate lake for boating and fun on the water. It is no wonder that the area boasts well over three million tourists and visitors.
On top of its crystal clear qualities, Lake Tahoe also holds some of the absolutely most pure water to be found on the continent of North America. While the rest of the country struggles to reduce pollution and keep their bodies of water clean, Tahoe is mostly doing well.
Another very cool property of Lake Tahoe is that it holds a turquoise coloration, which comes from dissolved minerals within the waters!
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Are the deepest lakes also the clearest?
Many of the deepest lakes in the United States are also among the clearest. Lake Tahoe is known to be among the clearest lakes in the US, for example.
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