The United States is home to thousands of lakes of all shapes and sizes, even boasting some of the biggest in the world.
With much of the United States’ landmass covered in water, it is no surprise that the USA is home to some of the world’s biggest lakes. So, here are the ten largest lakes in the USA.
Whether you’re looking to take the family on a lakeside vacation or fancy a boat trip out into the expanse, the USA has it all.
From man-made reservoirs to natural springs, mountain lakes to cityside basins, here are the ten largest lakes in the USA.
The World Bucket List’s facts about the largest lake ins in the USA
- Did you know Lake Superior is not only the largest lake in the United States but also the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area? It covers an area of about 31,700 square miles.
- Despite its name, The Great Salt Lake is not a sea but a terminal lake with no outlet, meaning water flows into it but doesn’t flow out, resulting in high salt concentrations.
- The Great Lakes, consisting of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, contain about 84% of North America’s freshwater.
- Lake Okeechobee in Florida is the largest freshwater lake in the state. It spans approximately 730 square miles and is nicknamed “Lake O” by locals.
- The unique cross-border nature of Lake of the Woods adds to its appeal and provides opportunities for international recreation and cooperation between the two countries.
10. Lake Okeechobee – Florida’s Inland Sea
First up on our list of largest lakes in the USA is Lake Okeechobee in Florida.
With a surface area of 662 sq miles (1,714 sq km), Lake Okeechobee also gets the name of ‘Florida’s Inland Sea. Despite its surface area, however, the lake is only an average of nine ft deep (2.7 m) and a 2006 drought allowed previously lost vegetation to re-emerge.
9. Lake Oahe – a popular fishing lake
Stretching between North and South Dakota, Lake Oahe has an immense surface area of 685 sq miles (1,774 sq km).
A popular fishing spot, this man-made lake offers up walleye, bass, northern pike, and perch, among others. It is also home to hydroelectric turbines that produce enough electricity to power 259,000 homes per year.
8. Iliamna Lake – watch out for the blackfish
Located in Alaska, this 1,014 sq miles (2,626 sq km) lake is the third-largest lake that lies entirely in the United States.
According to ancient folklore, Iliamna Lake was home to gigantic blackfish that could bite holes into canoes. So, make sure to be careful when out on the lake!
7. Lake of the Woods – access the northernmost part of the USA
Passing through Minnesota, Manitoba, and Ontario, Canada, the northernmost part of the United States can only be accessed from the USA by crossing the Lake of the Woods.
With a surface area of 1,485 sq miles (3,846 sq km), this lake has attracted nature lovers for well over a century.
6. Great Salt Lake – huge fluctuations in size
Utah’s Great Salt Lake comes in at number six on our list of the largest lakes in the USA.
With a surface area of 2,117 sq miles (5,483 sq km) that fluctuates greatly in size, this incredible lake is truly a sight to behold.
The lake was at its highest in 1873 and the mid-1980s when it stretched about 2,400 sq miles (6,200 sq km). Conversely, it was at its lowest in 1963, when it was only about 950 sq miles (2,460 sq km.)
5. Lake Ontario – a very deep lake
Despite being the smallest in surface area of the great lakes, it actually holds four times more water than Lake Erie, thanks to its depth.
4. Lake Erie – the smallest Great Lake in volume
With a total surface area of 9,910 sq miles (25,666 sq km), Lake Erie stretches through Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Ontario, Canada.
When it comes to its volume, however, Lake Erie is actually the smallest of all the Great Lakes. Lake Erie is also one of the most popular Lake Vacations in the US for Families.
Read more: USA bucket list 20 things to do in America.
3. Lake Michigan – the only Great Lake that lies entirely in the USA
Making its way through the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, Lake Michigan has an impressive surface area of 22,300 sq miles (57,757 sq km).
It is the only one of the five Great Lakes that lies entirely in the United States. Ferry rides are available to bring passengers to various islands that lie on the lake, include Beaver Island and Bois Blanc Island.
2. Lake Huron – named after the region’s early inhabitants
Covering a total surface area of 23,000 sq miles (59,570 sq km), Lake Huron is the second largest lake in North America.
Located in Michigan and Ontario, Canada, this lake takes its name from the people who inhabited the area before the arrival of European explorers.
Check out: 10 biggest lakes in Europe.
1. Lake Superior – largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area
Topping our list of the largest lakes in the USA is Lake Superior. Lake Superior is also the second-largest lake in the world after the Caspian Sea.
With a surface area of 31,700 sq miles (82,103 sq km), Lake Superior stretches through Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, as well as Ontario, Canada.
Read also: 10 beautiful lakes France.
Your questions answered about the largest lakes in the USA
Can you swim in Lake Superior?
Yes, Lake Superior is safe for swimming, though the water is typically cold, even for the hardiest swimmers.
What are the 5 greatest lakes in America?
The Great Lakes are, from west to east: Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario.