8 US Lakes Exceptional for Boating

With over three million lakes in the US, there are almost unlimited options for boating enthusiasts. In fact, the lower 48 states are home to an estimated 125,000 lakes alone. That makes it hard to choose. One key factor to determine which lakes are great for boating, however, is calm water.

That is, because still bodies of water make launching and docking a breeze. Based on this factor, we curated a list of 8 lakes great for boating in the United States. See if you recognise any of the following 8 lakes, before reading the descriptions under each picture:

Photo showing Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe, one of 8 US lakes great for boating
Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, California & Nevada

Famous for Crystal Clear Waters

Lake Tahoe formed about two million years ago as part of the Lake Tahoe Basin. In fact, the current layout was beautifully shaped during the ice ages. Nowadays, the largest alpine lake in North America straddles the state line between California and Nevada. It is a top destination for water recreation thanks both to its water clarity and the spectacular panorama of mountains. Above, the amazingly clear water is shown from Emerald Bay, declared a National Natural Landmark in 1969. Scenic boat cruises can be enjoyed from the Tahoe Queen, an authentic paddle wheeler with a glass bottom. Visitors also enjoy taking the Ms. Dixie II, voted the “Best Boat Cruise in Tahoe” for 10 years in a row. Of course, boating enthusiasts can bring their own equipment.

Photo showing Crater Lake form the top of Watchman's Peak, one of 8 US lakes great for boating
Crater Lake form the top of Watchman’s Peak – Planet Labs from a RapidEye Satellite

Crater Lake, Oregon

Featuring Ancient Volcanic Mystic

Crater Lake formed nearly 8,000 years ago. When volcanic Mount Mazama blew its top, it disgorged 12 cubic miles (50 km3) of rhyodacite. Thereafter, it took a quarter of a millennium to fill the caldera shown above. Located at 1,943 feet in Crater Lake National Park, America’s deepest body of water has no incoming streams or rivers. For this reason, it stays extraordinarily clear. Plus it makes the photogenic dark blue waters easily viewable from a crossing plane. While only around six miles long and five miles wide, it is one of the most breathtaking lakes for boating. Visibility averages 103 feet and sunlight penetrates nearly 400 feet down. For a most dramatic effect, two islands rise from the deep-blue surface: forested Wizard Island and nearly barren Phantom Ship.

Clouds over Flathead Lake in Polson - Paul Frederickson with boat only islands seen in the background
Clouds over Flathead Lake in Polson – Paul Frederickson

Flathead Lake, Montana

Best Kept Secret: Boat Only Islands

Flathead Lake is a remnant of the interglacial Lake Missoula, the largest natural body of water west of the Mississippi. The lake earned its reputation as a great boating destination in no small part because of the many islands. Many of them are only accessible by private vessel. At the same time, not all of the lake territory is available to the public. Part of it belongs to the the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Flathead Reservation. Notwithstanding, countless public access points dot the 185-mile shoreline featuring boat launches fully equipped for boating enthusiasts. The lake is blessed with an unusually mild climate despite its location so far north. This provides for great vistas of fruit orchards and vineyards, as well as of wild horses roaming the state park.

Photo showing the dock close to Twin Oaks Conservatory at Lake Kissimmee, one of the US lakes great for boating
Twin Oaks Conservatory at Lake Tohpekaliga Osceola County – Juliana Vilas Boas

Lake Kissimmee, Florida

Great Lure for Bass Fishing

Lake Kissimmee is a State Park best known among boaters for trophy-winning monster bass fishing. In fact, the lake has double the average catch rate in the state, according to the World Fishing Network. Lake Kissimmee also features a great marina with an on site boat ramp where you can easily launch your vessel. In addition, there are a number of private boat ramps within a few miles of the park. While the lake is nearly 15 feet long, it only has an average depth of around five feet. This makes it great for smaller boats, as well as kayaking and canoeing. Last but not least, it is great fun to visit any of the five islands in the lake that are best accessible by boat, or watch the abundant wildlife from anywhere on the lake.

Lake Superior as seen from Space courtesy of NASA, one of the US lakes great for boating
Lake Superior as seen from Space courtesy of NASA

Lake Superior, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, USA 🇺🇸 and Ontario, Canada 🇨🇦

Largest Aquatic Playground in the World

Lake Superior, above captured from the international space station in 2019, is a popular boating destination simply because to its sheer size. The largest of the Great Lakes is also the largest body of water in the world by surface area. Additionally, it’s the northern-most and highest in elevation of all the Great Lakes. All of these factors keep the average temperature a chilly 36 degrees. Nevertheless, each summer, Lake Superior waters and beaches are packed with visitors enjoying this gigantic aquatic playground. Of course, it helps that lake Superior boasts over 2,700 miles of shoreline, including the islands. In turn, finding a secluded anchorage isn’t difficult. Plus the many picturesque towns dotting the shore make great boating destinations for both boat owners and visitors alike.

Photo showing Party Cove at Lake of the Ozarks, one of 8 US lakes great for boating as well as for swimming
Party Cove, Lake of the Ozarks – James Carr

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

Lake Famous for Boat Parties

For an inland body of water, Lake of the Ozarks offers a large area for recreational boating. Interestingly, while confined to the hills and bluffs carved out by the Osage River, the lake has river-like qualities. This is because it winds its way between the Truman Dam upstream and the Bagnell dam downstream. In total, it benefits from 17,500 acres (71 km2) of land set aside for a national park in the 1920s. Shortly thereafter, the very land was acquired by the State of Missouri to create Lake of the Ozarks State Park. Consequently, the lake became the largest man-made body of water in the United States. As can be seen above, especially Party Cove is a great lake for boating enthusiast ready to have fun.

Lake Powell – PRA

Lake Powell, Utah & Arizona, USA 🇺🇸

Most Popular for House Boating

Lake Powell is the most popular destination for house boat enthusiasts. All of the Lake Powell marinas offer houseboat rentals, two easily accessed near the dam. The above photo shot from a plane beautifully showcases the massive body of water accessible to boats. With 2,000 miles circumference, the lake’s setting in the red rocks of Southern Utah and Northern Arizona makes it stunning to behold. In fact, it is instantly recognisable by its extreme and unique beauty. While the area is remote, Lake Powell is still one of the most popular water recreation destinations in the country. A key contributing factor is its proximity to the Grand Circle of National Parks. Another reason are the over 90 side canyons. Both afford unique vistas for houseboat vacationers.

Photo showing a beautiful sunset over Lake Winnebago, the final of the 8 US lakes great for boating in this post

Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin

Famous for Ice Fishing

Lake Winnebago is one of the heavily fished lakes in Wisconsin. The photo above shows a beautiful Sunset over the lake seen from the East shore. Especially ice fishing is popular. In fact, it is not uncommon for 10,000 cars to park on the lake itself during the ice fishing season. In addition, popular annual events take place on the Winnebago Pool. They include shoreline concerts, fishing tournaments, power boat competitions, and pleasure boating rallies. Along with the upper lakes of Big Lake Butte, Winneconne, and Poygan, the Wolf and Fox Rivers are especially popular summer boating destinations. In fact, surveys consistently rank the Winnebago Pool as the state’s busiest waterway, surpassing the Mississippi River.

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