These Are the 12 Most Dangerous Lakes in the United States

Some of the world’s most breathtaking lakes are in the United States. Yet, not all lakes are created equal, and some are downright dangerous. These 12 lakes make it to the list of the most dangerous lakes in the U.S.

1. Lake Michigan

St Joseph Lighthouse on Lake Michigan at sunset
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While the Great Lakes are famous for their stunning beaches, Lake Michigan can be a lethal trap for the unwary. Even the most experienced swimmers can be quickly overcome by powerful rip currents, and sudden storms have the potential to capsize boats. In the winter, Lake Michigan can become extremely icy and dangerous. The lake frequently freezes over, but the ice can be shaky and unpredictable, making ice fishing and other winter sports hazardous.

2. Lake Powell

Man in white shirt on the stern boat fascinated by nature. Artificial lake Powell on the Colorado River, USA. The lake is surrounded by picturesque beaches of the orange sandstone
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This artificial reservoir on the Colorado River is a well-liked spot for swimming, boating, and fishing. However, quick changes in water levels can obscure dangers and make navigation tricky. Lake Powell’s ebb and flow might expose hazards lurking on the shoreline. Submerged debris and abandoned buildings can constitute a hazard to swimmers and boaters when they rise to the surface.

3. Lake Havasu

People sitting on chairs in the water at Rotary Beach Park at Lake Havasu
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Lake Havasu is a great place to go swimming but beware of the many poisonous snakes and scorpions that call the area home. Giant lizards and tarantulas are also potential threats. Hikers and swimmers alike should be alert to their surroundings at all times.

4. Lake Tahoe 

Lake Tahoe east shore beach, calm turquoise water in sunny day
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Lake Tahoe, located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, is renowned for its pristine waters and breathtaking scenery. But the water is usually chilly, and rapid weather changes can make even the most seasoned swimmers uncomfortable. Lake Tahoe has a shorter swimming season than most other U.S. lakes because of its high altitude. Even during the height of summer, the water can be chilly enough to cause hypothermia.

5. Lake Okeechobee

Aerial view of an algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee in Florida, a source of pollution to the water system and to the Everglades.
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The toxic algae blooms in this sizable freshwater lake in southern Florida are notorious for causing respiratory troubles, skin discomfort, and other health problems. Visitors should be mindful of the warnings and stay away from the water during outbreaks. The Burmese python, which can reach a length of 20 feet and has been known to attack people, is one of the most infamous intruders.

6. Lake Erie

The Marblehead Lighthouse on the edge of Lake Erie in Ohio, USA. Photographed at sunrise.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes, can be dangerous for swimmers and boats. Powerful currents and sudden storms can produce unsafe circumstances, and numerous boating accidents have occurred on its waters. It has the world’s highest concentration of shipwrecks. Its shallow depths make it particularly vulnerable to algae blooms, which can cause disease and even death in humans and animals.

7. Lake Mead

A powerboat cruising on Lake Mead
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This well-liked diving location is renowned for its deep underwater caverns and sharp drops. While expert divers could enjoy exploring these features, novices should seek the guidance of professionals. Finding and saving divers who are in trouble might be challenging due to Lake Mead’s powerful currents and underwater dangers.

8. Lake Lanier 

A view from the shoreline looking out into the bay on Lake Lanier, Georgia across are boats docked on a sunny day in summer
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Because of its strong undertows and submerged hazards, such as trees and other debris, this enormous reservoir in Georgia has claimed many lives. Over 700 people have died on Lake Lanier since its creation in 1956. The leeches that live in this lake are in great numbers. Although not all leech species in this area are deadly, they are upsetting, and leeches are generally creepy.

9. Lake of the Ozarks 

Lake of the Ozarks Power Boat Shootout finish line press TV Camera Lake Patrol
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This massive Missouri reservoir is a favorite destination for watersports enthusiasts. Boating accidents cause the vast majority of fatalities at this Missouri lake. Regarding fatal boating accidents, the Lake of the Ozarks tops the charts. There is a reputation for wild parties at the lake.

10. Lake Champlain

Adirondack chairs by Lake Champlain in New York State
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A swarm of alien sea lampreys is present in this freshwater lake that is located on the border between Vermont and New York. These invasive parasites feed on their prey and have astonishing two-foot growth rates.

11. Lake Superior

Beautiful Sea Caves on Devil's Island in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Lake Superior, Wisconsin
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Gottography

Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes, is noted for its chilly waters and also happens to be the healthiest of all the Great Lakes.. Drowning is a leading cause of mortality on the lake resulting from vessels capsizing by waves as high as 30 feet.

12. Lake Coeur d’Alene

A busy summer day along the sandy beach of the lake at Independence Point, in the downtown resort district of rural Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Heavy metals and other pollutants are prevalent in this picturesque lake in northern Idaho, putting the health of everyone who swims or fishes there in danger. Lake Coeur d’Alene’s heavy metal and pollution levels directly result from decades of mining in the area. Visitors should exercise caution when swimming or fishing in the lake and eat a limited amount of fish caught there.

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