A lake is defined as a relatively large body of standing or slowly moving water occupying an inland basin of appreciable size. Definitions that distinguish lakes, ponds, swamps, and other bodies of non-oceanic water are not well established. Because of this, lakes and ponds are sometimes mistaken for each other, although ponds are smaller than lakes.
Freshwater lakes constitute about 0.009% of all free water within the global hydrologic cycle. The hydrologic cycle, also known as the water cycle, is the cycle that involves the continuous circulation of water in the Earth-atmosphere system.
The most critical processes in the water cycle are evaporation, transpiration, condensation, precipitation, and runoff. The total amount of water within the cycle remains constant, but its distribution continually changes among the various processes.
Freshwater lakes contain over 98% of the important surface water available for human use. Most other continental waters are contained in glaciers, ice sheets, and groundwater.
North America, Africa, and Asia contain about 70% of the world’s total lake water. Lakes also occur far beneath the ice sheets of Antarctica.
The most well-known lakes in the U.S. are the Great Lakes: Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, and Lake Erie. The Great Lakes are a series of interconnected freshwater lakes on or near the Canada-U.S. border. The lakes are located around Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
The five Great Lakes are also the five largest lakes in the U.S. The Great Lakes ranked in order of their size are Lake Superior (31,700 square miles), Lake Huron (23,000 square miles), Lake Michigan (22,300 square miles), Lake Erie (9,910 square miles), and Lake Ontario (7,340 square miles).
States with the Most Lakes
There are four different kinds of lakes included in this list, such as
- Natural Lakes
- Man-made Lakes
- Named Named Lakes
- Unnamed Lakes
While all of these states are great for anyone considering the fishing possibilities, it should just be noted that not all lakes are created equal. For the reader’s sake, we have included all of these four kinds of lakes in the list below. For a better breakdown of the lakes in each of these states, please
With its sheer size, it’s no surprise that Alaska has the most lakes in the country, with about 3,197 officially named natural lakes and 3 million unnamed natural lakes.
By their own ruling on how to count lakes, they only have 10,031. These all measure over 5 acres in surface area. If you don’t limit the amount by that logic, they have over 64,000 lakes and ponds statewide. Ten of those are 10,000 acres or larger.
Florida has the third-highest number of lakes, with 30,000 covering over three-million acres of land. This includes Lake Okeechobee, the fourth largest naturally occurring lake in the US with a surface area of over 1,175 square miles.
Minnesota, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” obviously does not have the most lakes in any state. However, Minnesota has the most named lakes, with about 15,291 natural lakes, 11,824 of which are greater than 10 acres. If you include smaller lakes, specifically those in unincorporated areas, the number is significantly higher.
Coming in right behind Minnesota, Wisconsin holds 15,074 lakes. Only 6,044 of Wisconsin’s lakes are named.
Another of the states that border the Great Lakes, Michigan has over 11,000 lakes.
Washington state has over 8,000 lakes due to multiple factors, including snow melt, glacier melt, and a network of freezing and thawing underground lava tubes.
8. New York
There is a combination of 7,600 freshwater lakes, ponds, and reservoirs in the state of New York, as well as 70,000 miles of rivers and streams. Also, the northern borders of the state include two of the Great Lakes.
Even though Texas has very few naturally-occurring lakes, if you were to look at a map of the state in 2022, you’d see over 7,000 lakes. One of those naturally-occurring lakes is Lake Cado, which spans over 25,000 acres.
Wyoming is considered one of the most beautiful states in the country and a lot of those landscapes include water. Along with attractions like Yellowstone National Park, the state holds over 4,000 lakes and reservoirs.