Approximately 0.009% of the total water on Earth is found in freshwater lakes. These bodies of water hold the vast majority of accessible surface water that humans can use. Most of the world’s lake water can be found in North America, Africa, and Asia, but lakes exist even in Antarctica beneath the ice sheets.
Today we will discuss every type of lake, including named, unnamed, man-made, and natural lakes, and more in America.
Something keen-eyed readers will immediately notice is that some states that are typically viewed are “dryer” can have a lot more lakes than “wet” states. This of course is due to the size of lakes in question. For each state, we replied upon the local authorities in each state in order to get the most accurate counts.
How many lakes can you recognize just from their pictures? Let us know in the comments!
South Carolina — 24 major reservoirs with 0 natural lakes
South Carolina boasts a total of 24 large reservoirs, each with its own unique features and recreational opportunities. One such lake is Lake Murray, which covers over 50,000 acres and offers activities such as boating, fishing, and camping. Another notable lake is Lake Hartwell, situated on the border between South Carolina and Georgia, known for its clear waters, perfect for swimming or water sports. With so many stunning lakes to choose from in South Carolina, there’s no shortage of options for outdoor enthusiasts to explore and enjoy.
However, all 24 are man-made. South Carolina has no natural lakes. The closest thing is oxbox lakes where rivers changed course, but they’re generally too small to be considered a lake.
Delaware —30 notable man-made lakes with 0 natural lakes
Delaware, the second-smallest state in the United States, is home to 30 beautiful lakes. Among these is Silver Lake, located in Dover. It spans an area of about 38 acres and offers recreational activities like fishing and boating. Another notable lake is Noxontown Pond near Middletown which covers approximately 88 acres and has a diverse range of fish species, including largemouth bass and catfish. Both these lakes offer serene surroundings for visitors seeking some peace away from urban chaos.
Alabama — 31 major man-made lakes and 0 natural lakes
Alabama is known for its natural beauty, and one of the best ways to experience it is by visiting some of its picturesque lakes. With 31 lakes scattered throughout the state, there are plenty of options to choose from. For instance, Lake Martin is a popular destination for water sports enthusiasts and anglers alike. Covering over 44,000 acres, this man-made reservoir boasts crystal-clear waters that are perfect for swimming, boating, or fishing. Another notable lake in Alabama is Lake Guntersville which spans three counties and has been designated as an important bird area by the National Audubon Society due to its diverse ecosystem that attracts various species of birds, including bald eagles and ospreys. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation amidst nature’s bounty, Alabama’s lakes will not disappoint!
Here’s an interesting fact: while Alabama doesn’t have much in the way of natural lakes, it has enough reservoirs that it ranks 14th in water acreage amongst the states! It’s also 24th in acres of wetlands.
Nevada — 40 lakes
Nevada has 533 “fishable waters” according to the Nevada Department of Wildlife.” Of those fishable water, 40 are classified as lakes.
Nevada’s 40 lakes vary in size and character. Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America, is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts offering activities such as skiing, fishing, and hiking. Pyramid Lake, located on the Paiute Indian Reservation, is known for its unique tufa formations and attracts anglers seeking to catch large Lahontan cutthroat trout. Walker Lake, situated in the Great Basin Desert region of Nevada, offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and opportunities for birdwatching.
Louisiana — 42 lakes with 15 major reservoirs
Counting lakes in Louisiana is once again a challenge because many bodies of water could either be classified as lakes or wetlands. For example, Lac des Allemands is a 12,000-acre lake with a maximum depth of just 10 feet and an average depth of 5 feet. In addition, many areas named ‘river’ are actually oxbow lakes formed by the Mississippi changing direction.
By our count, Louisiana boasts 42 lakes, each with its unique charm and beauty. Among these is Lake Pontchartrain, which stretches over an impressive 630 square miles and is the largest saltwater lake in the US. Another notable lake is Lake Charles, located in Calcasieu Parish. This picturesque body of water covers approximately 1,200 acres and offers visitors a wide range of outdoor activities like fishing, boating, and hiking along its scenic trails. Both lakes are popular tourist destinations that showcase Louisiana’s natural wonders at their best.
Kentucky — 45 lakes with 3 natural lakes
Kentucky is home to 45 beautiful lakes, each with its own unique features and attractions. Two of the most popular are Kentucky Lake and Lake Cumberland. The former boasts over 160,000 acres of water surface, making it one of the largest man-made lakes in the country. Visitors can enjoy fishing, boating, swimming, or simply relaxing on its sandy beaches. Meanwhile, Lake Cumberland offers breathtaking views of rugged cliffs and lush forests along its 1,200 miles of shoreline. It’s a haven for water sports enthusiasts as well as those seeking peaceful solitude amidst nature’s splendor.
North Carolina — 57 lakes
North Carolina is another state that getting an exact number of lakes is difficult. Many sources quote 22 natural lakes, but that figure seems to come from a North Carolina Wildlife Study quoting the entire Coastal Plain. By our count, we identify seven major natural lakes and 50 reservoirs.
One such lake is Lake Norman, the largest man-made body of water in the state spanning over 50 square miles and offering ample opportunities for boating, fishing, and swimming. Another notable lake is Lake Lure which has served as a popular tourist destination since it was created in the early 1900s and now boasts crystal clear waters surrounded by lush greenery. Both these lakes offer visitors an idyllic escape from city life with their serene surroundings and a plethora of recreational activities.
Virginia — 69 lakes with two natural
Virginia only has two natural lakes. Lake Drummod, which is located at the center of the Great Dismal Swamp, and Mountain Lake, which is located near the border of West Virginia. The remainder of Virginia’s lakes are reservoirs and human-created. We found 69 named lakes and reservoirs in the state. However,
Maryland — 110 lakes with zero natural lakes
The best authority on lakes in Maryland is the state’s website, which lists a total of 110 different named lakes across the state.
Maryland may be known for its coastal beaches and the Chesapeake Bay, but it also boasts an impressive number of inland lakes that are all man-made. With a total of over 100 lakes, there are plenty to choose from when looking to explore the state’s natural beauty. One notable lake is Deep Creek Lake, which spans over 3,900 acres and offers activities such as boating and fishing. Another popular destination is Greenbrier State Park’s man-made beach on Greenbrier Lake, where visitors can swim or rent paddle boats.
West Virginia — 121 with a single natural lake
The Encyclopedia of West Virginia cites 121 “public fishing lakes and ponds” in the state. The single natural lake in the state is known as Trout Pond, and historically it has been about 2 acres in size. However, West Virginia is likely losing its only natural lake soon as the pond has been draining into an underground structure. Besides, at just two acres in size, many would say Trout Pond hardly classifies as a lake (there is no formal definition that separates the two).
Another notable lake in West Virginia is Stonewall Jackson Lake – an idyllic retreat that offers breathtaking views of the Appalachian Mountains. The lake spans over 2,600 acres and provides ample opportunities for outdoor recreation like hiking, camping, kayaking, and more. Nature lovers can also explore the adjacent Stonewall Resort State Park to fully immerse themselves in the region’s natural beauty.
Arizona — 128 lakes with two major natural lakes
Arizona, known for its dry climate and desert landscapes, actually boasts a surprising number of lakes, although only two major lakes are natural.
One notable lake is Lake Havasu, located on the Colorado River and spanning over 19,000 acres. This popular destination offers boating, fishing, and water sports opportunities to visitors year-round. Another notable Arizona lake is Roosevelt Lake, which holds the title as the state’s largest reservoir with a capacity of over 1 million acre-feet. The crystal-clear waters of this scenic lake are perfect for swimming or exploring by boat while taking in views of the surrounding Tonto National Forest.
South Dakota — 153 lakes
To calculate the number of lakes in South Dakota, we counted the number of measured lakes in the South Dakota Department of Environment & Natural Resources lake database. As of 2023, there were 153 lakes monitored in the state. Of course, there are many more smaller ponds and sloughs in the state, particularly in its northeastern corner near Watertown and Brookings.
Among these lakes are some real gems, like Lake Oahe, which is one of the largest reservoirs in the United States and spans over 370 miles along the Missouri River. Another noteworthy lake is Pactola Reservoir. It is located in the Black Hills National Forest and offers stunning views amidst rugged mountain terrain. Whether you’re looking to cast your line or simply soak up some sun on the beach, South Dakota has no shortage of picturesque lakes to explore.
Indiana — 154 with 19 natural lakes over 500 acres
While neighbors like Kentucky might be short in their total number of natural lakes, Indiana has 19 natural lakes that are more than 500 acres. In total, we counted 154 lakes in Indiana. However, as we note with many states, it is hard to get an exact count as definitions of ponds, creeks, and other bodies of water aren’t always identical.
Among the most notable is Lake Michigan, which forms Indiana’s northern border and boasts sandy beaches and stunning sunsets; Lake Wawasee, one of the state’s largest natural lakes known for its clear water and great fishing; and Lake Monroe, a popular spot for boating, swimming, hiking trails, camping sites and more. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures or simply a peaceful retreat surrounded by scenic beauty, Indiana has it all!
Pennsylvania — 193 with 50 natural and glacier lakes
Counting lakes is not as easy as it sounds! Estimates for lakes range from the 50 that are created by glaciers and are natural, all the way up to 2,500 “bodies of water.” Of course, bodies of water can include ponds, creeks, and many other areas that aren’t lakes!
We counted each reservoir and lake that has a Wikipedia page within Pennsylvania and came up with 193 in total. If you’re wondering how many of these lakes are natural, the answer is about 50.
Iowa — 236 lakes
A 1989 study by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources listed 236 lakes and 47,700 ponds in the state.
One of the most popular destinations among locals and tourists alike is Clear Lake. With a surface area of almost 3,700 acres, this natural lake offers ample opportunities for fishing, boating, and swimming. Another noteworthy Iowa lake is Storm Lake, located in Buena Vista County. This glacially-formed body of water features numerous parklands and campgrounds around its perimeter, making it perfect for family-friendly outdoor recreation activities such as hiking or kayaking.
Rhode Island — 237 lakes
Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the United States, but it certainly doesn’t lack when it comes to picturesque lakes. With a total of 237 lakes within its borders, there are plenty of options for those looking to escape the city and enjoy some peace and tranquility on the water.
One such lake is Watchaug Pond, which spans over 570 acres and is located in Charlestown. This popular spot offers ample opportunities for fishing, kayaking, boating, and swimming. Visitors can also take advantage of the many hiking trails that surround the lake.
Another notable Rhode Island lake is Wallum Lake, located in Burrillville. This beautiful body of water covers nearly 350 acres and boasts plenty of recreational activities like camping, fishing, boating, and picnicking areas, with grills available for use.
Oklahoma — 262 lakes
Oklahoma has “more than 200” reservoirs and a total of 62 natural lakes, which are oxbow lakes created by rivers changing course.
Lake Eufaula is one of the largest in the state, covering over 100,000 acres and offering activities such as fishing, boating, camping, and hiking. Another popular destination is Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees, known for its clear water, perfect for swimming and diving. Outdoor enthusiasts can also explore Broken Bow Lake’s scenic surroundings or enjoy kayaking at Tenkiller Ferry Lake. With so many options to choose from, Oklahoma’s lakes offer something for everyone to enjoy.
Mississippi — 270 lakes
The Mississippi Department of Natural Resources lists 119 public lakes in the state that occupy 225,000 acres of freshwater. The Journal of Lake and Reservoir Management conducted a more comprehensive study (including non-public lakes not maintained by the Department of Fish and Wildlife) that cites 270 lakes in the state. Mississippi features far more natural lakes than a neighbor like Alabama because it has many oxbow lakes that are created when the Mississippi River changes course.
One such lake is Sardis Lake, which covers an impressive 98 square miles and offers ample opportunities for fishing, boating, and swimming. Another noteworthy lake in Mississippi is Ross Barnett Reservoir, located just outside the capital city of Jackson. This popular destination features over 105 miles of shoreline and provides visitors with countless recreational options, such as hiking trails, picnic areas, and water sports activities.
Hawaii — 271 lakes with 5 natural lakes
Hawaii’s lakes are primarily located on the islands of Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii (the Big Island), with only a few small ones found on Oahu. There are only five natural lakes in the state, but there are 266 freshwater reservoirs.
One of the most popular is Lake Waiau, situated at over 13,000 feet above sea level near Mauna Kea on Hawaii Island. This unique lake is one of the highest in the United States and is surrounded by alpine vegetation. Another notable lake is Wailua Reservoir on Kauai which offers stunning views of Mount Waialeale and has become a popular spot for kayaking and fishing enthusiasts alike.
Georgia — More than 357 lakes
Georgia boasts more than 425,000 acres of lakes, the vast majority of which come from reservoirs. In fact, Georgia has 4,600 total dams in the state which is higher than all but four states (Texas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma). Finding an exact number of lakes in Georgia is extremely challenging, but the most reliable source we found was from the Georgia Soil and Water Commision. They quote 357 watershed dams across the state that create bodies of water. Georgia does have a small number of natural lakes as well.
One of Georgia’s most famous lakes is Lake Lanier, located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This man-made reservoir spans over 38,000 acres and offers a variety of recreational activities like boating, fishing, and hiking. Another noteworthy lake is Lake Oconee. It is known for its luxurious resorts and championship golf courses along its shoreline. The lake’s clear waters also offer ample opportunities for water sports enthusiasts to indulge in jet skiing or wakeboarding. These are just two examples that showcase Georgia’s diverse landscape and abundant natural beauty when it comes to lakes!
North Dakota — More than 400 lakes
Counting lakes in North Dakota is especially challenging. The state has more than 1.5 million basins that include an incredible density of wetlands in places. The state maintains more than 400 bodies of water for fishing, but that likely undercounts the number of lakes as glaciers receding at the end of the last Ice Age left the incredible number of drainage basins found in the state today.
One such lake is Devils Lake, which spans over 200 square miles and boasts crystal-clear waters teeming with fish like walleye, northern pike, and white bass. Another popular spot is the stunning Lake Sakakawea. It is one of the largest reservoirs in the United States, created by damming the Missouri River. This picturesque waterbody offers endless fishing, boating, and camping activities for visitors to enjoy. With so many options to choose from, North Dakota’s lakes are a true hidden gem worth exploring!
Missouri — More than 500 lakes
Missouri, known as the “Show-Me State,” boasts an impressive number of lakes that are scattered throughout its diverse terrain. Getting an exact count of lakes is challenging as Missouri has lakes created by sinkholes, oxbow lakes, and scour holes from major floods. Simply put, the number of lakes in Missouri will change after a major flooding season. Lakes from Mississippi floods in 1993 and 1995 remain today.
One of the most popular is Lake of the Ozarks, a sprawling man-made reservoir that offers over 1,150 miles of shoreline and endless opportunities for boating, fishing, and water sports. Another noteworthy lake in Missouri is Table Rock Lake which spans across both Missouri and Arkansas and features crystal-clear waters surrounded by stunning natural beauty. With so many options to choose from, it’s no wonder why Missouri has become a go-to destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure on the water.
Kansas — More than 600 lakes
According to the University of Kansas, the state has 120,000 lakes and ponds. However, most of those are small, private farm ponds that are less than an acre in size.
The actual number of lakes is 24 large reservoirs and more than 580 lakes and reservoirs owned by state and local governments.
Despite their varying sizes, however, these lakes play an important role in Kansas’ ecosystem and provide crucial habitats for a diverse array of flora and fauna. Whether you enjoy fishing or simply appreciate the beauty of nature’s watery landscapes, Kansas’ abundance of lakes is sure to impress even the most seasoned outdoor enthusiast.
Vermont — More than 800 lakes
Vermont boasts an impressive 800-plus lakes. Many of its lakes are large as well. 220 of Vermont’s lakes are more than 20 acres in size.
Among these is Lake Champlain, a beautiful natural freshwater lake that stretches across Vermont and New York. Another notable lake in the state is Lake Bomoseen, which covers over 2,400 acres and is a popular destination for fishing and boating enthusiasts alike. With so many bodies of water to explore, Vermont truly offers endless opportunities for outdoor recreation and relaxation.
New Hampshire — 944 lakes
The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Water Division lists 944 lakes within the state. This list is very comprehensive and includes many bodies of water named ponds, but seeks to only classify bodies of water that are 10 acres or larger.
One of the most popular lakes in the state is Lake Winnipesaukee, covering approximately 72 square miles with crystal-clear waters that attract water sports enthusiasts from all over. Another notable lake in New Hampshire is Squam Lake, which served as the location for the movie “On Golden Pond.” Its serene and picturesque surroundings make it perfect for kayaking or fishing trips. These two examples are just a small glimpse into the vast array of stunning lakes that New Hampshire has to offer.
Tennessee — More than 1,000 lakes
Tennessee’s Department of Wildlife cites more than 200,000 ponds and small lakes across the state. Their Tourism Department also quotes 500,000 acres of lakes, which is higher than nearby Georgia. Determining how many lakes there are in the state relative to ponds is difficult, but counts of named bodies of water with lakes in their name reach over 1,000.
Like most Southern states, natural lakes are rare. Reelfoot Lake is a natural lake caused by a massive Earthquake in 1812 that diverted the Mississippi River. Some also consider the Lost Sea a natural lake, although it’s an underground lake.
Another notable lake is Dale Hollow Lake, located on the Tennessee-Kentucky border. This sprawling body of water spans over 27,000 acres and offers visitors ample opportunities for boating, fishing, hiking, and camping. Another noteworthy lake in Tennessee is Norris Lake. It is a popular destination among recreational enthusiasts for its crystal-clear waters, ideal for swimming and water sports activities. With so many beautiful lakes to explore in the state, it’s no wonder why Tennessee attracts tourists from all around the world!
New Mexico — More than 1,200 lakes
New Mexico boasts an impressive 1,200 lakes, each with its own unique character and charm. Among the most notable are Heron Lake, located in the north-central part of the state and offering excellent fishing opportunities for trout and salmon; Conchas Lake, a popular recreation destination known for its sandy beaches and clear blue waters; and El Vado Lake, situated in the mountains near Taos and offering stunning scenery as well as a variety of water sports activities. Whether you’re looking to fish, swim, or simply enjoy some time in nature, New Mexico’s lakes have something for everyone.
Oregon — More than 1,400 lakes
Oregon, a state known for its natural beauty and abundance of water bodies, has more than 1,400 lakes. Among these vast bodies of water are some truly stunning examples that attract visitors from far and wide. One such lake is Crater Lake, formed over 7,000 years ago when Mount Mazama erupted and collapsed in on itself. This deep blue lake is the deepest in the United States and offers incredible views to those who venture out onto its waters or explore its surrounding trails. Another notable example is Waldo Lake, which stands out for its incredibly clear water, thanks to being fed exclusively by snowmelt and rainwater. It’s a popular spot for swimming, fishing, kayaking, and camping, among other outdoor activities – all enjoyed against a breathtaking backdrop of towering trees and mountain peaks.
Nebraska — 1,510 lakes
The state of Nebraska keeps a public table of bodies of water that are 10 acres or larger, which is the generally accepted size for a body of water to be considered a lake. There are 1,510 entries in their database.
The largest lake in the state is Lake McConaughy, which boasts over 100 miles of shoreline and crystal-clear water, perfect for swimming, boating, and fishing. Another popular destination is Lewis and Clark Lake, located on the Missouri River with stunning views of the surrounding bluffs. With so many options to choose from, Nebraska’s lakes provide endless opportunities for outdoor adventure and relaxation.
Utah — More than 2,000 lakes
Utah’s more than 2,000 lakes offer a diverse range of experiences for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Bear Lake is a popular destination with its turquoise waters and sandy beaches, perfect for swimming, boating, and fishing. The Great Salt Lake is the largest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere and offers unique opportunities to float effortlessly in its buoyant waters or explore its otherworldly landscape. Fish Lake boasts some of Utah’s best trout fishing, while Mirror Lake Scenic Byway offers stunning views of alpine forests and crystal-clear mountain lakes like its namesake Mirror Lake. Whatever your preference, there’s a lake in Utah waiting to be explored!
Idaho — More than 2,000 lakes
Idaho State University counts more than 2,000 named lakes in the state and notes there are “thousands of others without names.” So it’s likely that Idaho would rank higher if an exhaustive count of smaller lakes were conducted.
One notable lake is Redfish Lake in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. With crystal clear waters and stunning mountain views, it’s a popular spot for boating and fishing. Another noteworthy lake is Priest Lake in the northern part of the state. Surrounded by evergreen forests and offering ample opportunities for outdoor recreation, it’s a true gem of Idaho’s natural landscape. These are just two examples of the many incredible lakes that make Idaho a top destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.
Connecticut — More than 2,000 lakes
The Connecticut Office of Tourism cites more than 3,000 lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. Of course, as we’ve noted earlier this is difficult because definitions of what a lake is can vary! We’ll go a bit more conservative and use a 2,000 “lakes and ponds” figure which comes from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment.
Two notable examples include Candlewood Lake, which spans over 8 square miles and offers opportunities for boating and fishing, and Lake Waramaug, known for its crystal-clear waters and picturesque views. Both of these lakes provide ample opportunities for outdoor recreation and draw visitors from both near and far. With so many lakes to choose from in Connecticut, there’s always something new to discover.
Ohio — 2,200 lakes with 110 natural lakes
You can count lakes in Ohio in several ways. The Ohio Department of Resources notes there are 50,000 bodies of water in the state. They list 2,200 bodies of water at 5 acres or more, with 110 natural lakes that are larger than 5 acres, so that’s the definition we’ll use for lakes in the state.
Ohio boasts a total of 110 lakes, each with its own unique beauty and recreational offerings. Among the most popular is Buckeye Lake, which spans over 3,000 acres and offers opportunities for boating, fishing, and swimming. Another notable lake is Grand Lake St. Marys, Ohio’s largest inland lake that covers nearly 14 square miles and features several state parks and wildlife areas along its shores. For those looking for a more secluded retreat, Indian Lake State Park offers a peaceful atmosphere for camping, hiking, fishing, or kayaking on its clear waters.
Arkansas — 2,340 lakes
Arkansas boasts an impressive 2,340 lakes, each offering a unique experience for nature enthusiasts. One notable lake is Lake Ouachita, the state’s largest and one of the cleanest freshwater lakes in America. With over 40,000 acres of clear blue water surrounded by scenic mountain views, visitors can enjoy fishing, boating, and even scuba diving. Another popular destination is Beaver Lake. It is perfect for water sports such as skiing or jet-skiing and is known for its trout fishing opportunities. Whether looking to relax or seeking adventure on the water, Arkansas has a plethora of options to choose from among its many picturesque lakes.
Illinois — 2,900 lakes
Illinois boasts an impressive number of 2,900 lakes within its borders. In addition to all these lakes the state boasts 84,000 ponds and 3 large reservoirs. The state has a combination of glacial lakes, oxbox lakes, and reservoirs.
Among these are some noteworthy bodies of water, such as Lake Michigan – the only Great Lake that is entirely within the United States – which also serves as a major source of drinking water in Chicago and other nearby municipalities. Another notable lake in Illinois is Rend Lake, which offers ample opportunities for fishing, boating, and outdoor recreation. The state’s rich diversity of lakes provides plenty of options for residents and visitors alike to enjoy nature’s beauty and take part in aquatic activities throughout the year.
Massachusetts — 3,000 lakes and ponds
Massachusetts is home to an impressive 3,000 lakes, making it a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. These bodies of water range in size and type, from small ponds nestled within forests to larger reservoirs that provide drinking water for nearby communities. With so many options available, there are plenty of opportunities for swimming, fishing, boating, or simply enjoying the scenic views. Massachusetts truly has something for everyone when it comes to lake recreation.
California — More than 3,000 lakes
California, the most populous state in the United States, boasts an impressive number of lakes. Over 3,000 named lakes and reservoirs, to be exact. These bodies of water range from small ponds to expansive reservoirs and are scattered throughout the state’s diverse landscape. While many of these lakes serve as sources of municipal drinking water or irrigation systems, approximately 400 are open for recreational activities such as swimming, boating, and fishing.
From popular destinations like Lake Tahoe and Clear Lake to lesser-known gems like Convict Lake and Shasta Lake, there is no shortage of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to explore California’s abundant waterways. Whether you prefer a tranquil day on a quiet lake or an adrenaline-pumping adventure on a whitewater river rafting trip, California’s vast array of lakes offers something for everyone.
Montana — 3,223 lakes
Montana, located in the northwestern region of the United States, is home to an impressive 3,223 named lakes and reservoirs. The state’s diverse geography includes mountain ranges and vast prairies, offering plenty of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to explore these bodies of water. From Glacier National Park’s pristine alpine lakes to the crystal clear waters of Flathead Lake, Montana’s lake-filled landscape offers breathtaking scenery and endless recreational activities such as fishing, kayaking, boating, and camping.
Colorado — More than 4,000 lakes
Colorado boasts an impressive number of lakes, with a total of 4,000 scattered across the state. 1,533 of these lakes are publicly owned and more than 10 acres in size.
From picturesque alpine lakes nestled in the Rocky Mountains to serene reservoirs dotting the eastern plains, Colorado’s diverse landscape offers a wealth of aquatic habitats for visitors and residents alike to explore and enjoy. These lakes provide ample opportunities for fishing, boating, swimming, and other recreational activities that draw tourists from around the world. Whether you’re seeking adventure or simply some peaceful relaxation by the water’s edge, Colorado’s abundant lake system is sure to leave a lasting impression.
Wyoming — More than 4,000 lakes
Wyoming, known for its stunning natural beauty, boasts an impressive number of lakes and reservoirs that add to the state’s scenic splendor. With over 4,000 lakes and reservoirs dotting its landscape, Wyoming offers ample opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to explore and enjoy nature at its finest. These lakes and reservoirs are not only a visual treat but also serve as important sources of freshwater for local communities.
The abundance of water in Wyoming is perhaps best showcased by the world-famous Yellowstone National Park, located within the state’s borders. The park alone has over 290 lakes and ponds alongside several major rivers flowing through it. This vast network of waterways provides a habitat for diverse aquatic species such as fish, amphibians, and birds.
Apart from Yellowstone National Park, there are several other notable lakes in Wyoming worth exploring. Some popular ones include Jackson Lake, situated in Grand Teton National Park, which is famous for fishing expeditions. Then we have the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, which is home to trophy-sized trout. Ad of course, Bighorn Lake, nestled amidst towering cliffs, along with many others scattered throughout the state.
Maine — More than 6,000 lakes
Maine is known for its abundant and picturesque lakes, boasting a grand total of more than 6,000. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection says half of the lakes and ponds in the state have been named.
Among the notable lakes is Moosehead Lake, which is Maine’s largest lake covering over 117 square miles and featuring pristine waters perfect for boating and fishing enthusiasts alike. Another popular destination is Sebago Lake, located in southern Maine and home to numerous beaches, parks, and campgrounds offering scenic views of the surrounding mountains. With so many beautiful lakes to choose from in Maine, there’s no shortage of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.
Texas — 7,000 lakes
Despite having a reputation for being dry and arid, the state of Texas surprisingly boasts more than 7,000 lakes as of 2022. While most of these lakes are man-made reservoirs that were created to support irrigation and water supply systems, there are also several naturally-occurring bodies of water scattered throughout the state. One such example is Lake Cado, which stretches across an impressive area spanning over 25,000 acres. Many Texas lakes come from changing river patterns.
The existence of so many lakes in Texas may come as a surprise to many people who associate the state with dusty plains and rugged desert landscapes. However, this abundance of water sources has played an essential role in supporting various industries in the region, including agriculture and energy production. Additionally, these lakes have become popular recreational destinations for outdoor enthusiasts seeking activities such as fishing, boating, or swimming.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that not all Texan lakes are created equal. Some stand out due to their unique features or geographical locations. For instance, Lake Travis is situated near Austin and offers stunning views from atop its surrounding hillsides while also being famous for its vibrant nightlife scene on weekends.
New York — 7,850 lakes
New York is a state that boasts an impressive number of freshwater bodies, with a total count of 7,850 lakes and reservoirs. The New York Department of Conservation lists 3,050 lakes, ponds, and reservoirs that have been officially named while there are 500 unnamed and 4,300 unofficially named. New York lakes occupy a whopping 4 million acres or about 10 percent of the entire state.
These water resources are spread throughout the state’s regions and offer opportunities for recreational activities such as fishing, boating, and swimming. Additionally, New York has an extensive network of rivers and streams that span over 70,000 miles in length.
Another fascinating feature of the geography of New York is its northern borders which include two Great Lakes, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. These massive bodies of water not only serve as natural boundaries but also provide significant economic benefits to the state by supporting industries such as shipping and tourism.
The abundance of freshwater resources in New York also plays a vital role in maintaining ecological balance within the area by providing habitats for various aquatic species like fish, amphibians, and birds. Moreover, these water sources contribute significantly to agriculture by irrigating crops during dry seasons.
Washington — 8,000 lakes
Washington State boasts an impressive number of over 8,000 lakes according to the state’s Department of Ecology. This abundance can be attributed to a combination of different factors that have contributed to the formation and maintenance of these bodies of water. One such factor is the melting snow from the various mountain ranges in Washington, which feeds into many rivers and streams that eventually form lakes.
Additionally, glacier melt has played a role in shaping some of Washington’s larger lakes. As these massive sheets of ice slowly recede over time, they leave behind deep depressions that often fill with water and become new bodies of water themselves.
Another contributing factor is the network of freezing and thawing underground lava tubes found throughout much of Washington. These tubes are formed by molten rock flowing beneath the Earth’s surface and cooling as it comes into contact with cooler soil or rocks. Over time, this process creates tunnels through which water can flow, sometimes resulting in large subterranean reservoirs or channels that eventually emerge above ground as fully-formed lakes.
All in all, these various geological processes have combined to make Washington one of the most lake-rich states in America, providing both residents and visitors alike with ample opportunities for fishing, boating, swimming, or simply enjoying some scenic relaxation on their shores!
Minnesota — 11,842 lakes
Minnesota is a state renowned for its abundance of lakes and water bodies, earning it the moniker “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” However, despite this well-known fact, Minnesota does not have the highest number of lakes among all US states. Nevertheless, what sets Minnesota apart from other states is that it has the most named lakes in the country. In particular, there are approximately 15,291 natural lakes in Minnesota alone, with an impressive 11,824 having an area greater than 10 acres.
You’ll note that Minnesota is lower than Wisconsin on this table. One reason is that Wisconsin defines its lakes as being 2.2 acres or more (they’re next on our list). Meanwhile, Minnesota defines lakes as 10 acres or more.
But these figures only tell part of the story. When accounting for smaller bodies of water located in unincorporated areas across Minnesota’s vast landscape, such as ponds or wetlands, this figure increases significantly. Indeed, when taking into account even those small unnamed lakes dispersed throughout Minnesota’s countryside and wilderness regions, which may be difficult to access or navigate but still contribute to its aquatic ecosystem, their inclusion pushes up the total count considerably.
Wisconsin — 15,074 lakes
Wisconsin is known for its abundance of lakes, boasting a stunning 15,074 in total according to the state’s Department of Natural Resources. However, it may come as a surprise to some that only 6,044 of these lakes have been given official names. The remaining bodies of water are often referred to by their location or features. Despite this lack of formal recognition, many of these unnamed lakes still offer opportunities for swimming, fishing, and boating, among other recreational activities.
Florida — 30,000 lakes
Florida’s reputation for sunshine and beaches often overshadows the fact that it is home to an impressive number of lakes. According to recent data, Florida ranks third in the country with 30,000 lakes spanning over three million acres of land. These bodies of water range in size from small ponds to massive lakes like Lake Okeechobee, which boasts a surface area of over 1,175 square miles.
Lake Okeechobee is particularly noteworthy as it is not only one of Florida’s largest lakes but also the fourth-largest naturally occurring lake in the United States. It sits at the center of the state and serves as a vital source of drinking water for millions while also supporting diverse aquatic ecosystems. Despite its size and importance, however, Lake Okeechobee has faced numerous environmental challenges over time due to pollution and other factors.
Beyond Lake Okeechobee, Florida’s many other lakes provide recreational opportunities for fishing enthusiasts or anyone looking to take a dip on a hot summer day. In addition, these bodies of water play critical roles in regulating regional climates by providing moisture through evaporation and influencing local weather patterns.
Michigan — 64,980 lakes
When it comes to bodies of water, Michigan is a state that truly stands out. With over 64,980 lakes and ponds spread throughout its territory, this Midwestern gem boasts an impressive number of aquatic ecosystems that offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation and exploration. What’s more, ten of these lakes are truly massive (spanning over 10,000 acres each) making them some of the largest freshwater bodies in the United States.
Here’s what’s important: Michigan has the second-most water area of any state, behind Alaska. Simply put, Michigan has a ton of lakes!
But even if you narrow your focus to smaller lakes, Michigan still has plenty to offer. In fact, if you only count bodies of water that measure at least 5 acres or more in size, there are a staggering 10,031 lakes scattered across the state! Whether you’re looking for a quiet fishing spot or simply enjoy spending time near the water’s edge, it’s clear that Michigan offers something for everyone when it comes to natural beauty and stunning landscapes.
Alaska — 3 million lakes
Alaska, the largest state in the United States, is home to an abundance of natural lakes. In fact, it boasts a staggering number of approximately 3,197 officially named natural lakes. However, that’s not all – there are also an estimated 3 million unnamed natural lakes scattered throughout the vast Alaskan terrain. These bodies of water range in size from small ponds to expansive bodies of water that cover hundreds or even thousands of acres.
The origin and formation of these lakes vary greatly across Alaska’s diverse landscape. Some were formed by glaciers melting during the last ice age, while others were created by volcanic activity or tectonic movements over time. Many are situated within national parks and wildlife refuges, where they provide essential habitats for a wide variety of plant and animal species.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Willard/iStock via Getty Images
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