Biggest Lakes in the U.S.
Lakes are formed in a variety of ways. Some lakes were made when ancient glaciers melted. Other lakes were made when the earth’s crust shifted to form natural basins. Fiery volcanoes even created some lakes. We all know one when we see it, but what, exactly, is a lake? According to National Geographic, a lake is a body of fresh water or saltwater that is entirely surrounded by land. Smaller lakes may be called ponds, while the biggest lakes on earth are generally referred to as seas. With thousands of lakes and ponds in the U.S., you may be wondering which are the seven largest lakes in the land. Here’s what we found out:
Lake of the Woods
Credit: Quinn Springett/ Shutterstock
With around 15,700,000 acre-feet of water, the seventh-largest lake in the U.S. also happens to be one of the biggest lakes in Canada. Spanning the borders between Minnesota, Manitoba, and Ontario, glacier-created Lake of the Woods comprises more than 25,000 miles of shoreline. This enormous American lake boasts the longest lake shoreline in the world, explains Lakelubbers magazine.
The westernmost section of Lake of the Woods is mainly open water. More easterly parts of the lake are peppered with thousands of small islands that are home to moose, bald eagles, bear, and other Minnesota wildlife.
In the summertime, fishers flock to the blue waters of Lake of the Woods to catch record-setting walleye, small-mouth bass, lake sturgeon, perch, and muskie. During winter months, Lake of the Woods transforms into a cold-weather playground replete with ice fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowball fights.
Great Salt Lake
Credit: Johnny Adolphson/ Shutterstock
Comprising some 28 million acre-feet of saline water, Utah’s Great Salt Lake claims the title of the sixth-largest lake in the U.S. It’s also the second-largest lake that sits completely within United States borders.
The most significant remaining vestige of a prehistoric 1,000-foot-deep lake known as Lake Bonneville, the Great Salt Lake lives up to its name with water that is significantly saltier than the other lakes in this list.
The Great Salt Lake is home to a protected pelican rookery as well as a several small islands that are populated with American bison, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, and numerous shorebirds and waterfowl, including avocets, swans, ducks, and gulls. Due to its high salt levels, nothing but brine shrimpand algae live in the lake water, according to Lakelubbers.
Credit: Dan Sedran/ Shutterstock
With roughly 1,328,025,600 acre-feet of freshwater, Lake Ontario is the smallest of the Great Lakes but ranks as the fifth-biggest lake in the United States as well as the 14th-largest lake in the world. It’s not all in the U.S., however. Formed by glacial activity long ago, Lake Ontario shorelines meander through Canada and New York.
Fed primarily by the Niagara River by way of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario ultimately flows into the St. Lawrence River. Water that evaporates from Lake Erie typically returns in the form of snow that falls on northern New York State, according to Lakelubbers.
At 802 feet, Ontario is the second-deepest of the Great Lakes. The scenic lake offers more than 700 miles of hike-able shoreline and plentiful fishing opportunities. Angler favorites include brown trout, black bass, brown trout, coho and king salmon, lake trout, perch, spring kings, walleye, and steelhead.
Credit: KeatsPhotos/ Shutterstock
With a relatively mere 391,987,200 acre-feet of water, Erie is the southernmost and smallest by volume of the five Great Lakes as well as the fourth-largest lake in the U.S. Straddling the boundaries of Ontario, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes.
Because Erie has an average depth of just 62 feet, it is the only one of the Great Lakes to freeze over intermittently. In the wintertime, ice fishing is a big deal in Lake Erie where daring anglers brave the elements to pull walleye, yellow perch, steelhead, salmon, and small-mouth bass through holes bored in the ice.
Nobody knows exactly how many islands are in Lake Erie, but Lakelubbers says that there are at least 36 inhabited and abandoned islands, including Buckeye, Catawba, Gibraltar, Kafralu, Middle Bass, Mouse, and West Sister Island.
Credit: JaySi/ Shutterstock
Comprising 3,987,456,000 acre-feet of fresh water, Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great Lakes to sit entirely within United States boundaries. With 1,640 miles of shoreline in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana, Lake Michigan also happens to have the biggest surface area of any single-country freshwater lake.
If you think the only wine country in America is on the west coast, you may be surprised to learn that the Lake Michigan Shore is a designated American Viticultural Area with hundreds of wineries that make wine from cool weather-loving Riesling grapes.
Credit: Brian Lasenby/ Shutterstock
With a basin that holds 850 cubic miles of water, Lake Huron ranks as the second-largest lake in the U.S. Nearly 4,000 miles of rocky shoreline and sandy beaches make Huron a popular Midwest vacation spot.
Visitors to Lake Huron’s Mackinac Island State Park experience a step back in time. The park allows no automobiles or motorcycles, but offers ample opportunity to bike, walk, or catch a ride on a horse-drawn carriage, explains Lakelubbers. A quaint village and exceptional bird watching are additional features enjoyed by visitors to this historic island.
In the summertime, fishermen (and women) flock to the shore at Saginaw Bay to angle for record-breaking walleye. Year-round fishing is good here, too, with plentiful musky, trout, bass, and salmon.
“There is a time for everything… a time to be silent and a time to speak.”
I (jcd) still remember the day, just two weeks before Shirley and I were married, when we proudly drove off a used car lot in the gleaming white 1957 Ford sedan I had just purchased. Five blocks down the road, to celebrate this historic event, I leaned over to give Shirley a quick kiss.
It wasn’t quick enough! At that instant two cars in front of us made an unexpected stop. I crashed into the first and knocked it into a second. The front of my gorgeous car crumpled like an accordion. Fortunately, there were no injuries, except to my pride.
Because of this stupid mistake, I couldn’t afford to buy Shirley a wedding ring with even a small diamond, and the car we had dreamed of buying for so long was severely damaged. Yet Shirley never let the accident tarnish the romantic aura of our early days together. I never heard a word of criticism about it, and on our first anniversary, I bought her the diamond ring. Forty years later, Shirley still hasn’t complained about my bad driving!
We urge you to think before you say hurtful and unkind words that will burn in the memory of your spouse for many years. Protect your romantic relationship, even when criticism seems justified. Your love for each other is a precious and fragile flower. Treat it that way.
Just between us…
Lord, You ask us to keep our marriage partner’s interests uppermost in our minds, but sometimes this doesn’t come naturally. Help us to be more thought- ful, giving, and forgiving in how we tend each other’s hearts. Amen.