When you think of visiting Nevada, you may imagine the MGM Grand or the Bellagio Casino. However, there’s much more to Nevada than Las Vegas.
This state offers unbelievable scenery, from rising rock formations to lush forests and jagged peaks. The lakes in Nevada are particularly worth a visit. They capture natural and artificial beauty and may also capture your heart when you visit.
Take some time to earn more about these breathtaking lakes in the Silver State.
How Many Lakes Are in Nevada?
While Nevada may have an arid climate, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun on the water. Nevada is home to eleven lakes.
From Lake Mead on the Colorado River to the stunning Lake Tahoe, Nevada lakes have much to offer. Each lake is unique, and you may find it challenging not to add all of them to your list when planning your trip to Nevada.
What Is the Largest Lake in Nevada?
Lake Mead is the largest artificial lake in the United States. Straddling the Nevada-Arizona border, Lake Mead is a National Recreation Area.
The desert scenery makes this 247 square mile reservoir a beautiful sight. However, over the last few decades, the water has remained below capacity. In 2022, Lake Mead was at 31% capacity.
The largest natural lake in Nevada is Pyramid Lake, covering over 120,000 acres. Named for its massive rock formations, Pyramid Lake has no outlet. North of Reno, this lake is close to the California border and is a popular destination for anglers trying to catch the rare cui-ui fish.
7 Breathtaking Lakes Only Seen in Nevada
Visitors may know Nevada for its desert landscape and mountainous regions. It’s also the driest state in the United States.
Perhaps that’s why the scenery around these seven lakes is so breathtaking. If you’ve never been to these lakes in Nevada, start planning a visit today.
#1. Lake Mead
About: Created by the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead was the first national recreation area. It’s also the largest. At about 1.5 million acres, it includes a varied landscape of mountains, canyons, valleys, and two lakes. With more than 750 miles of shoreline, Lake Mead is a prime destination for guests to enjoy the beaches.
Things to Do: Relax on the shores of one of the numerous beaches. Take out the boat for a day of fishing. Put in your kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Rent scuba diving equipment and explore the white gypsum reef area. The outdoor activity list is endless at Lake Mead.
Traveler’s Tip: Hoover Dam is just one of the 9 Most Famous Dams in America that you need to visit!
#2. Pyramid Lake
About: Sitting about 40 miles northeast of Reno, Pyramid Lake is a remnant of the ancient Lake Lahontan that once covered much of Nevada. The deepest part of Pyramid Lake is around 350 feet.
The Paiute tribe has called this area home for centuries, and the lake played a significant role in their culture. The gigantic rock formations that give the lake its name are stunning as they rise out of the waters.
Things to Do: Fishing is quite popular. Anglers try their hand at catching Lahontan Cutthroat Trout and Sacramento Perch, as well as the rare cui-ui fish. While there, visit the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum and Visitors Center to learn more about the Paiute people and the lake’s natural history.
#3. Liberty Lake
About: South of Interstate near the Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway, Liberty Lake is in the Ruby Mountains. A glacier formed the lake, and it now sits in the stunning Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.
It’s smaller in size at only 21 acres, but the jagged peaks and beautiful landscape make Liberty Lake one of the most awe-inspiring scenes in Nevada.
Things to Do: Hiking is popular because of the Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail. The 38-mile hiking trails climb around Green and Tipton Peaks, pass King Peak and Long and Mahogany Canyons and meander along Liberty Lake.
The Liberty Lake Trail is a challenging 8.7-mile out-and-back trail with an elevation gain of over 2,000ft. Backpacking is also a familiar pastime. Visitors hike in, set up camp for the night, and then hike out the following day.
#4. Lake Mohave
About: Another manufactured reservoir downstream of the Hoover Dam, Lake Mohave, isn’t as famous as Lake Mead but still offers guests over 26,000 acres of scenic beauty. It forms the southern border of Nevada and the western border of Arizona just north of Bullhead City.
Things to Do: Willow Beach is an excellent place to put in kayaks or paddleboards. It’s also a stop on guided rafting tours from the Hoover Dam.
Traveler’s Tip: Put in at Willow Beach and paddle to this enchanting emerald cove in Arizona.
Enjoy dozens of sandy coves at Cottonwood Cove, just an hour south of Las Vegas. Hike the 4.7-mile roundtrip Lake View Trail at Katherine Landing and view hidden coves and rising peaks along the way. Fishing is also a fun activity at Lake Mohave.
#5. Lamoille Lake
About: Like Liberty Lake, Lamoille Lake is a glacier lake at the base of a stone mountain within the Ruby Mountain range. The 13.6 acres sits at the head of Lamoille Canyon.
Towering desert peaks contrast the lush green forests along the lake’s shoreline. The scenery is spectacular.
Things to Do: Like Liberty Lake, hiking is the most in-demand activity at Lamoille Lake. From the Lamoille Canyon Trailhead, hikers gain about 800 feet of elevation in just under two miles.
Although the hike isn’t far to view Lamoille Lake, it can be strenuous with the elevation changes. Like the other lakes in Nevada, Lamoille Lake also welcomes anglers for a beautiful day of fishing.
#6. Washoe Lake
About: Washoe Lake State Park is in Carson City. The name comes from the Washoe people, the area’s first inhabitants, followed by miners looking for gold in the 1800s.
Washoe Lake is one of the most shallow lakes in Nevada, with its greatest depth at only 12 feet. In 1992, 1994, and 2004, the lake dried utterly.
Things to Do: Windsurfing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, camping, and wildlife watching are exciting activities here. For those looking to glimpse Nevada’s iconic wild horses, Washoe Valley is home to the free-roaming Virginia Herd. Anglers love to cast their lines for bullhead catfish, wipers, brown trout, white bass, and Sacramento Perch.
#7. Overland Lake
About: Joining Liberty Lake and Lamoille Lake in the Ruby Mountains is another glacier-carved lake, Overland Lake. At 55 feet deep and 15 acres in size, Overland Lake is the primary source of Overland Creek. The scenery looks similar to Liberty Lake and Lamoille Lake, with towering desert peaks and green forests.
Things to Do: The Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail runs along Overland Lake. The Overland Lake Trail is a challenging 12.9-mile out-and-back hike.
Backpackers and hikers are generally the only people on the trail as it’s not for the general public to enjoy. A dirt road will take you to the trailhead.
Don’t Miss These Lakes in Nevada On Your Next Trip
Nevada may be the driest and most mountainous state in the United States, but it’s also home to beautiful lakes. The scenery surrounding these locations is breathtaking and worth a drive or hike.
The lakes in Nevada reflect natural and manufactured beauty, so the next time you’re planning a trip out West, don’t just visit the bright lights of Vegas. Enjoy the peaceful views and relax at the base of towering peaks at one of these spectacular locations.
Which one will you visit first?