- 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 (1,943 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)
- Lake Clark, Alaska (1,056 feet)
- Illiamna, Alaska (988 feet)
- Tustumena, Alaska (950 feet)
- Lake Michigan, Illinois/Indiana/Wisconsin/Michigan (923 feet)
- Lake Ontario, New York (802 feet)
- Katmai Crater Lake, Alaska (800 feet)
- Lake Huron, Michigan (751 feet)
- Lake Oroville, California (695 feet)
- Dworshak Reservoir, Idaho (650 feet)
- Lake Crescent, Washington (624 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
As the deepest lake in the entire country, Crater Lake ranks the ninth deepest lake globally and the second deepest lake in North America. 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
Measuring a maximum depth of 1,645 feet or 501 meters, Lake Tahoe ranks the second deepest lake in the country and the fourth deepest in North America. This second entry on our list of the deepest great lakes, sits in the Sierra Nevada, 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. This alpine lake 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
Lake Chelan ranks as the third deepest lake in the United States, the sixth deepest in North America, and the 25th in the world. Its deepest point measures 1,486 feet or 453 meters down, located at its second basin. The lake comprises two basins, with one significantly shallower than the other. 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/Canada
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, namely 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
With a maximum depth that reaches 1,150 feet or 350 meters deep, 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
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. Lake Michigan, Illinois/Indiana/Wisconsin/Michigan
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.
8. Lake Ontario, Ontario/New York
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.
9. Lake Huron, Michigan/Ontario
The second-largest North American Great Lake is Lake Huron, one of the United States’ deepest lakes, with the deepest point measuring 750 feet or 230 meters down. It is located in the U.S. state of Michigan and 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.
10. Seneca Lake, New York
Boasting a maximum depth of 616 feet or 188 meters, Seneca Lake makes it to the top 10 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.
11. Lake Willoughby, Vermont
Lake Willoughby is a glacial lake that measures 328 feet or 100 meters deep and sits in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The lake is neighbored by a group of forests called the “Willoughby Gap” and sports several public beaches stretching 0.25 miles in the lake outlet zone.
12. Lake Erie, Pennsylvania/Ohio/New York/Michigan
Lake Erie is the smallest North American Great Lake by water volume. It is also the shallowest among the Great Lakes. Still, it ranks as one of the deepest among all lakes in the U.S. Lake Erie boasts a maximum depth of 210 feet or 64 meters and touches the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Michigan, and the Canadian province of Ontario.
13. Lake of the Woods, Ontario/Minnesota
Like Lake Erie, the Lake of the Woods has a maximum depth of 210 feet or 64 meters. It occupies parts of Ontario and Manitoba in Canada and the state of Minnesota. The lake has a surface area of 70 miles and possesses tens of thousands of islands that collectively compose about 65,000 miles of shorelines.
14. Lake Norman, North Carolina
Man-made Lake Norman North Carolina is the largest man-made freshwater lake in the state, measuring 33.6 miles long and 9 miles wide. With a maximum depth of 131 feet or 40 meters, Lake Norman is one of the United States’ deepest lakes. The lake powers the generators at the hydroelectric dams providing electricity to the Piedmont area of the Carolinas.
15. Lake Itasca, Minnesota
Lake Itasca may be small, having only 1.8 miles of surface area, but it is one of the deepest lakes in the country. Its deepest point reaches 39 feet or 12 meters, and its waters are noted for being the headwater of the Mississippi River. Lake Itasca is a glacial lake located in north-central Minnesota that provides a home to the University of Minnesota’s laboratories for biology.
15 Deepest U.S. Lakes Summary (2022 Update)
|#1||Crater Lake||Oregon||1,943+ 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||Lake Clark||Alaska||1,056 feet|
|#7||Illiamna Lake||Alaska||988 feet|
|#8||Tustumena Lake||Alaska||950 feet|
|#9||Lake Michigan||Wisconsin/Michigan||923 feet|
|#10||Lake Ontario||New York||801 feet|
|#11||Katmai Crater Lake||Alaska||800 feet|
|#12||Lake Huron||Michigan||800 feet|
|#13||Lake Oroville||California||695 feet|
|#14||Dworshak Reservoir||Idaho||650 feet|
|#15||Lake Crescent||Washington||634 feet|
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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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