75 Deepest Lakes in the US
The United States have their fair share of deep lakes both natural and man-made. Using a cut-off of 300 feet (91.5 meters) there are at least 75 lakes and reservoirs that meet or exceed that depth. Three of the US lakes are among the top 25 deepest in the world.
There is quite a variety of lakes on this list and we’re sure you’ll find many that you’ve never heard of. We learned a lot by putting this list together. Here are a few tidbits.
Interesting things about this list
- The list is a mix of natural and man-made lakes but all of the top 10 are natural (although their depths may have been increased slightly by dams).
- Over half of the 50 states are not represented on this list as they don’t have a lake deeper than 300 feet.
- Alaska has the most lakes on this list (and all are natural).
- The Great Lakes are huge, and even though they are the five largest lakes in the US for surface area, none make the top three for depth. All but Lake Erie made this list however.
- There are two water filled volcanic craters (Crater Lake in Oregon and Katmai Crater Lake in Alaska).
- Most of the deepest man-made lakes are reservoirs, but several are mine pits that have filled with water including the deepest lake in Minnesota (Embarrass Mine) and Wisconsin (Wazee Lake).
- One of the 50 state’s deepest lake is just 7 feet deep (see the bottom of the list).
The reservoirs on this list are all based on their full capacity depth, but sometimes they are not full and remain so, especially those in the Southwestern US which is facing a drought right now. All lake levels fluctuate as do their measured depths depending on when they were last verified, the time of year it was measured, and the sophistication of the instruments taking the depth soundings. We’ve found conflicting reports of lake depths including those from government sources.
10 Deepest Lakes in the US
1. Crater Lake OR, 1949 feet (594 meters)
The deepest lake in the United States is Oregon’s Crater Lake (pictured above). This natural lake is such a spectacular place that a national park was created for it in 1902. Crater Lake was formed by the collapse of a dormant volcano (Mt. Mazama) after its eruption around 7700 years ago. Crater Lake is the 9th deepest lake in the world, which is impressive, but it’s 4th deepest in the world by average (mean) depth. The deepest lake in the world is Lake Baikal in Siberia Russia at 5380 feet deep (1640 meters). The photo above is a wide angle view of Crater Lake form the top of Watchman’s Peak beautiful landscape in Oregon.
2. Lake Tahoe CA NV, 1645 feet (501 meters)
Lake Tahoe, the second deepest lake in the US, is a natural lake on the border of California and Nevada in the Sierra Nevada Range. Tahoe is considered the largest alpine lake (high elevation lake) in all of North America. Since the forested land around Lake Tahoe is predominantly public land the area is a mecca for outdoor recreation in addition to water-based activities. Lake Tahoe ranks 5th in the world for mean depth right after Crater Lake.
3. Lake Chelan WA, 1486 feet (453 meters)
Lake Chelan in Washington state is natural glacier-carved lake but a dam raised the depth by about 21 feet in 1927. It’s over 50 miles long with the deepest portion near the town of Chelan. Despite being located in Washington’s Cascade Mountains, the bottom of the lake is still about 285 feet below sea level.
4. Lake Superior, 1332 feet (406 meters)
Lake Superior is truly superior to them all. It is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area. However it’s just 36th in the world by depth. Superior is the fourth deepest lake in the US with borders on Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ontario Canada.
5. Lake Pend Oreille ID, 1150 feet (351 meters)
Lake Pend Oreille is located in the Idaho Panhandle and was dug out by glaciers a few years ago (quite a few). The resort town of Sandpoint is on the northern lakeshore
6. Lake Clark AK, 1056 feet (322 meters)
Lake Clark and its namesake national park and preserve are located in the southern part of Alaska near the Kenai Peninsula. It’s a natural lake that was created by glaciers making their way down the Chokotonk River valley.
7. Iliamna Lake AK, 988 feet (301 meters)
Iliamna Lake is the second largest freshwater lake that is wholly contained inside the US (after Lake Michigan). It’s the largest lake in Alaska by surface area, but Lake Clark is a little deeper.
8. Tustumena Lake AK, 950 feet (290 meters)
Despite being one of Alaska’s largest lakes and one of America’s deepest, Tustumena is a seldom visited lake with no roads leading directly to its shores. It’s located about 60 miles from Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula. Locals get to the lake by boating upriver from the nearby town of Kasilof.
9. Lake Michigan, 923 feet (281 meters)
Four states share the border of Lake Michigan, the largest freshwater lake (by surface area) that is entirely inside the USA. The states of Michigan and Wisconsin have the lion’s share of the shoreline, but Chicago Illinois and part of Indiana have pieces of the south shore too. Lake Michigan is the largest lake in the world that is located entirely in one country.
10. Lake Ontario NY, 802 feet (244 meters)
The third Great Lake to make the top 10 for depth is Lake Ontario between the state of New York and Canada’s Ontario Province. It’s the 13th largest lake in the world by surface area but the smallest of the Great lakes.
The Rest of the Deepest Lakes in the US
Katmai Crater Lake AK, 800 feet
Lake Huron MI, 750 feet
Lake Oroville CA, 695 feet
Dworshak Reservoir ID, 650 feet
Lake Crescent WA, 624 feet
Seneca Lake NY, 618 feet
Fremont Lake WY, 610 feet
Becharof Lake AK, 600 feet
Lake Powell AZ UT, 580 feet
New Melones Lake CA, 565 feet
Kenai Lake AK, 541 feet
Lake Mead AZ NV, 530 feet
Skilak Lake AK, 528 feet
Shasta Lake CA, 517 feet
Hungry Horse Reservoir MT, 490 feet
Upper Waterton Lake MT, 490 feet
Lake McDonald MT, 472 feet
Blue Lake AK, 468 feet
Trinity Lake CA, 465 feet
Embarrass Mine Pit Lake MN, 465 feet
Portsmouth Mine Pit Lake MN, 450 feet
Carters Lake GA, 450 feet
Tally Lake MT, 445 feet
Detroit Lake OR, 440 feet
Fontana Lake NC, 440 feet
Jackson Lake WY, 438 feet
Flaming Gorge Reservoir UT WY, 436 feet
Cayuga Lake NY, 435 feet
Lake Ore Be Gone MN, 433 feet
Lake Kachess WA, 430 feet
Waldo Lake OR, 420 feet
Fallen Leaf Lake CA, 415 feet
Lake Roosevelt WA, 400 feet
Ross Lake WA, 400 feet
Morrow Point Reservoir CO, 400 feet
Lake Champlain VT NY, 400 feet
Navajo Lake Reservoir CO NM, 395 feet
Yellowstone Lake WY, 394 feet
St. James Mine Pit Lake MN, 380 feet
Rock Lake WA, 375 feet
Flathead Lake MT, 371 feet
Lake Koocanusa MT, 370 feet
Priest Lake ID, 369 feet
Pyramid Lake NV, 356 feet
Lake Memphremagog VT, 351 feet
Wazee Lake WI, 350 feet
Roosevelt Lake AZ, 349
Blue Mesa Reservoir CO, 342 feet
Rabbit Lake MN, 337 feet
Cle Elum Lake WA, 333 feet
Ozette Lake WA, 331 feet
Whatcom Lake WA, 330 feet
Castaic Lake CA, 330 feet
Lake Willoughby VT, 328 feet
Summersville Lake WV, 327 feet
Lake Jocassee NC SC, 326 feet
Sebago Lake ME, 316 feet
Anderson Ranch Reservoir ID, 315 feet
Skaneateles Lake NY, 315 feet
Sullivan Lake WA, 312 feet
Canisteo Mine Pit Lake MN, 312 feet
Hiwassee Lake NC, 309 feet
Watauga Lake TN, 305 feet
Payette Lake ID, 304 feet
Brownlee Reservoir ID OR, 300 feet
Saint Mary Lake MT, 300 feet
Lakes that are not so deep
The Bottomless Lakes in New Mexico have a bottom and the deepest point is just 90 feet deep!
Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans is huge but just 65 feet deep!
Salton Sea in California is drying up and its 40 feet depth is getting lower!
Great Salt Lake in Utah is great but just 33 feet deep!
Lake Okeechobee is the largest lake in Florida, but just 12 feet deep!
Lake Waiau at 7 feet deep is the deepest (and only) lake in Hawaii!