The 7 Best Kansas Lakes For Swimming

Perry Lake
© CLP Media/Shutterstock.com

Written by Jennifer Gaeng

Updated: May 24, 2023

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The state of Kansas has earned the moniker “The Wheat State” due to its rich agricultural history. This state is nicknamed “The Sunflower State” for its namesake mountain. Mountains like this one aren’t the only natural features in Kansas; the state also features hills, woods, flatlands, and rivers.

Kansas has many natural features besides mountains, including hills, rivers, woods, flatlands, and stunning lakes.

The Great Plains make up around two-thirds of the state of Kansas, while the other third consists of hills and woods. There are various rivers and also lakes scattered across the landscape’s flatlands, hills, and forests. Lakes in Kansas are generally overlooked by tourists, yet there are a few truly stunning ones in the state. Below is a list of the top seven lakes in Kansas for swimming!

1. Wilson Lake

Wilson Lake

Located in central Kansas, Wilson Lake is famous for its striped bass and also walleye fishing.

©Madelyn Hart/Shutterstock.com

Wilson Lake is located in Russell and Lincoln Counties. It was constructed with the purpose of reducing the risk of flooding, but it has now found additional use as a recreational lake. It’s also put to use in the realm of wildlife control. The lake has four parks, the longest of which is 160 kilometers, and is called Wilson State Park. There are bathing beaches, boat ramps, hiking trails, and camping spots available at this public recreation area.

Lucas Park, where the Rocktown Natural Area is located, is located at the northeastern extremity of the 3,660-hectare lake. There are also places to swim and launch boats.

2. Milford Lake

Milford Lake, Kansas

Milford Lake, Kansas

©Acorns Resort / Flickr – Original / License

With 6,400 hectares, Milford Lake is the state’s largest artificial lake. It is located in Geary, Clay, and Dickinson counties. During the building of the Milford Dam on the Republican River, a lake was formed. In addition, Milford State Park is located on the southeastern tip of the lake. Birdwatchers and anglers frequent the park because of its peaceful atmosphere and the opportunities it provides for spending time in nature.

People from all around flock to the lake to swim, picnic, and also watch the wildlife. Camping, cycling, horseback riding, and hiking are also viable options.

3. Tuttle Creek Lake

Tuttle Creek Lake

The second largest lake in the state of Kansas, Tuttle Creek Lake is known for excellent fishing, camping, and hunting by locals and tourists.

©iStock.com/tomofbluesprings

Beside the Big Blue River located in northeast Kansas is this large lake, which spans an area of 5,000 hectares. It is located in Pottawatomie, Riley & Marshall Counties. While its original purpose was to reduce flooding, today Turtle Creek Lake serves a far more recreational purpose. Tuttle Creek State Park, at the lake’s northern edge, features a man-made beach. The Country Stampede Music Festival is held there annually as well.

Fancy Creek State Park, located at the lake’s northern edge, is well-known for its 13-kilometer mountain biking track. Picnicking, boating, fishing, swimming, and camping are all available at a number of different parks in the vicinity of the lake.

4. Perry Lake

Perry Lake is known for providing anglers with great bass, crappie, and channel

catfish

, it also has a nationally recognized trail system.

©Unknown employee(s) of the U.S. government (Corps of Engineers) / This file is a work of a U.S. Army soldier or employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, it is in the public domain in the United States. – Original

Locals in Topeka and Lawrence often refer to Perry Lake as “Paradise on the Plains” because of its idyllic setting. It is located in Jefferson County. It’s a terrific weekend getaway and a popular destination in the Dissected Till Plains. Perry State Park is an excellent place to pitch a tent after a day of hiking the nationally recognized 47-kilometer Perry Lake Trail. The 4,511-hectare lake is a popular destination for horseback riding, boating, and fishing.

The Perry Dam, near the lake’s southern end, is located on the Delaware River. Many people enjoy its recreational benefits, but flood prevention remains its principal function.

5. Kanopolis Lake

Kanopolis Lake

Kanopolis Lake can be found in the Smoky Hills located in Ellsworth County, Kansas.

©Robert D Brozek/Shutterstock.com

Situated at an altitude of 446 meters, Kanopolis Lake can be found in the Smoky Hills located in Ellsworth County, Kansas. Kanopolis Dam detains the Smoky Hill River to create the 1,378-acre lake. The lake and its three adjacent parks are maintained by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The largest of the parks, Venango Park offers campsites, a boat launch, and a beach.

Northeast of the lake is where you’ll find Kanopolis State Park. Located near the Prairie Trail Scenic Byway, this area is great for exploring on foot, on a bike, or on horseback, and for seeing all kinds of wildlife.

6. Cedar Bluff Reservoir

Cedar Bluff Kansas Reservoir

Cedar Bluff Reservoir is a large body of water that is ideal for water sports and fishing.

©iStock.com/Colby Lysne

The limestone cliffs that tower over a hundred feet at the edge of Cedar Bluff Reservoir are a beautiful natural feature. The bluffs are a fantastic starting point for a hike around the lake and a stunning vantage point for the sun rising or setting. Cedar Bluff Reservoir is a large body of water that is ideal for water sports and fishing, especially for species like walleye, crappie, bass, wiper, and catfish.

Cedar Bluff State Park, which has land on both the northern and southern coasts of the lake, is a popular destination for those looking to enjoy the outdoors and take in some of the lake’s expansive 10+ square miles of water.

7. El Dorado Lake

El Dorado Lake Kansas

El Dorado Lake is located in southeastern Kansas, just outside Wichita, and is known for excellent flathead catfish and walleye fishing.

©iStock.com/Erik Loera

Lake El Dorado is an 8,000-acre reservoir, making it one of the state’s largest lakes. It’s located just to the northeast of the city of El Dorado. About a hundred miles of El Dorado Lake’s shoreline are open to leisure. The lake itself is bordered by the tall grasses and rolling prairies for which Kansas is famed. Visitors to the natural regions along the lake’s banks may see warbles, geese, and majestic bald eagles, as well as deer, prairie fowl, mink, and vultures.

There is a lot of fish in the lake to entice anglers, and the lake is a popular site for watersports including jet skiing, boating, and waterskiing. Hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders can enjoy the trails that circle the lake and, depending on the time of year, see a variety of colorful wildflowers.

Summary Of The 7 Best Kansas Lakes For Swimming

RankLakeLocation
1Wilson LakeRussell and Lincoln Counties
2Milford LakeGeary, Clay and Dickinson Counties
3Tuttle Creek LakePottawatomie, Riley & Marshall Counties
4Perry LakeJefferson County
5Kanopolis LakeEllsworth County
6Cedar Bluff ReservoirRansom, Trego County
7El Dorado LakeEl Dorado, Butler County


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About the Author

Jennifer Gaeng is a writer at A-Z-Animals focused on animals, lakes, and fishing. With over 15 years of collective experience in writing and researching, Jennifer has honed her skills in various niches, including nature, animals, family care, and self-care. Hailing from Missouri, Jennifer finds inspiration in spending quality time with her loved ones. Her creative spirit extends beyond her writing endeavors, as she finds joy in the art of drawing and immersing herself in the beauty of nature.

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