Special Report

This Is the Largest Lake in America

Eric Clark / iStock via Getty Images

The size of lakes is measured by square miles of surface area. Based on this, the largest lake in the world by far is the Caspian Sea at 143,000 square miles. Its shores are in several countries, including Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Iran. 

The second largest lake in the world has a portion of its shoreline in the United States and some in Canada. Despite the Canadian shore, Lake Superior is considered the largest lake in America. This is the best place to enjoy the water in each state.

Lake Superior covers 31,700 square miles. Its shore touches Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Canadian province of Ontario. It is the largest lake in the chain that makes up the Great Lakes, as well as the one furthest north. According to Lake Superior.com, it holds 10% of the world’s surface fresh water and its “3 quadrillion gallons are enough to cover both North and South America under a foot of water.” Its deepest level is 1,276 feet below the surface.

Superior is famous for a number of things, not the least of which is its shipwrecks. The most famous of these is the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in a storm on Nov. 10, 1975. All hands went down with it, a total of 29 men. The incident was popularized by a popular song by Canadian performer Gordon Lightfoot, called “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” which was released in 1976. A total of about 350 wrecks are on record.

The lake was used to move iron ore south for decades. According to the journal Nature: “Undoubtedly the greatest advantage possessed by the United States is that in the Lake Superior region they have the most extensive supplies of cheap and rich iron ores known to exist.”

Lake Superior is the westernmost part of the Great Lakes basin, which includes Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, and Lake Erie, some of which empty into the St. Lawrence River.

Although the algae bloom problem in Superior is nowhere near what it is in Lake Erie, where these can cover the western third of the lake at times, the fact that Superior has this issue at all is a sign that pollution has started to affect the lake. These are America’s 50 dirtiest cities.

Click here to see the largest lake in America

20. Rainy Lake
> Location(s): MN-Ontario
> Area: 345 sq. miles

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Source: Yunpeng Li / iStock via Getty Images

19. Salton Sea
> Location(s): California
> Area: 347 sq. miles

Source: By USACE photographer - http://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/html/Lake_Proj/fortpeck/images/LCoverlook1.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15761914

18. Fort Peck Lake 1
> Location(s): Montana
> Area: 393 sq. miles

Source: By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - http://www.public-domain-image.com/public-domain-images-pictures-free-stock-photos/nature-landscapes-public-domain-images-pictures/lake-public-domain-images-pictures/lake-at-junction-of-selawik-river-and-ingruksuk-river.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24909918

17. Selawik Lake
> Location(s): Alaska
> Area: 404 sq. miles

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Source: By Andrew Filer / FLICKR

16. Red Lake
> Location(s): Minnesota
> Area: 427 sq. miles

Source: Brian Sevald / iStock via Getty Images

15. Lake St Clair
> Location(s): MI-Ontario
> Area: 430 sq. miles

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

14. Becharof Lake
> Location(s): Alaska
> Area: 453 sq. miles

Source: cmart7327 / iStock via Getty Images

13. Lake Champlain
> Location(s): NY-VT-Quebec
> Area: 490 sq. miles

Source: By Naawada2016 / Wikimedia Commons

12. Lake Sakakawea 1
> Location(s): North Dakota
> Area: 520 sq. miles

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Source: Art Wager / E+ via Getty Images

11. Lake Pontchartrain
> Location(s): Louisiana
> Area: 631 sq. miles

Source: 6381380 / iStock via Getty Images

10. Lake Okeechobee
> Location(s): Florida
> Area: 662 sq. miles

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Source: By Unknown author or not provided - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=80298753

9. Lake Oahe 1
> Location(s): ND-SD
> Area: 685 sq. miles

Source: By Dev Dharm Khalsa / NPS - NPGallery, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82461932

8. Iliamna Lake
> Location(s): Alaska
> Area: 1,014 sq. miles

Source: Wildnerdpix / iStock via Getty Images

7. Lake of the Woods
> Location(s): MN-Manitoba-Ontario
> Area: 1,485 sq. miles

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Source: beccarie / iStock via Getty Images

6. Great Salt Lake
> Location(s): Utah
> Area: 2,117 sq. miles

5. Lake Ontario
> Location(s): NY-Ontario
> Area: 7,340 sq. miles

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Source: sdominick / iStock via Getty Images

4. Lake Erie
> Location(s): MI-NY-OH-PA-Ontario
> Area: 9,910 sq. miles

Source: yongyuan / Getty Images

3. Lake Michigan
> Location(s): IL-IN-MI-WI
> Area: 22,300 sq. miles

Source: grandriver / E+ via Getty Images

2. Lake Huron
> Location(s): MI-Ontario
> Area: 23,000 sq. miles

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Source: natem0001 / iStock via Getty Images

1. Lake Superior
> Location(s): MI-MN-WI-Ontario
> Area: 31,700 sq. miles

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