This Lake Was Just Named Best in the U.S. — and It Has Thousands of Undiscovered Shipwrecks

Lake Erie is the shallowest, and therefore, the warmest of the Great Lakes — a fact that makes it great for fishing and diving.

<p>Ali Majdfar/Getty Images</p>

Ali Majdfar/Getty Images

Lake season is officially here, with everyone clamoring to find their little piece of waterfront paradise. And while the U.S. boasts three beautiful coastlines, it’s nothing compared to the 479,950 lakes that dot the lower 48 states. These lakes, big and small, provide respite from the summer heat with swimming, boating, fishing, and waterfront camping.

And while any of the 479,950 lakes can provide that cooling effect, some are set in picturesque landscapes, have crystal clear waters, or have a great boating community. But according to USA Today, Lake Erie, one of the five Great Lakes in North America, is the best in the nation.

To determine the best of the best, USA Today tapped a panel of experts to come up with a list of the nation’s best lakes, then, readers voted for their favorites. The result is 10 expert and public-approved lakes that range from behemoths like Lake Superior and Lake Tahoe to lesser-known spots like Lake Cumberland and Lake Austin, with Lake Erie in the No. 1 spot.

Lake Erie is split by the U.S.-Canada border and touches four U.S. states: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. It was carved out by advancing and retreating glaciers and remains the shallowest — and therefore, also the warmest — of the Great Lakes. The warm waters also make Erie a popular fishing spot: it has steelhead, walleye, bass, perch, lake trout, king salmon, and whitefish, among others.

Lake Erie is also home to thousands of shipwrecks, which are popular among divers. One study estimates there are between 1,400 to 8,000 shipwrecks in Lake Erie, most of which are undiscovered and believed to be well preserved. Lining the shores of the lake are dunes, campgrounds, swimming beaches, and established wildlife and biosphere preserves.

Two major U.S. cities (Buffalo, New York, and Cleveland) are perched on Lake Erie’s shores, providing an easy entry point to the lake.

Following Lake Erie on the list are two other Great Lakes and several Upper Midwestern lakes, followed by bodies of water in California, Idaho, Vermont, Texas, and Kentucky. The full list is below:

  1. Lake Erie — New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan

  2. Geneva Lake — Wisconsin

  3. Lake Superior — Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota

  4. Lake Michigan — Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin

  5. Lake Tahoe — California, Nevada

  6. Big Bear Lake — California

  7. Lake Coeur d’Alene — Idaho

  8. Lake Champlain — Vermont, New York

  9. Lake Austin — Texas

  10. Lake Cumberland — Kentucky

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