15 Best Lakes in Nevada

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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When most people think about the state of Nevada they immediately think about gambling, the desert and mining. But there is so much more to the USA’s 7th largest state. Nevada is broken up by the mountains, having valleys, forests and rivers.

Most of Nevada lies within the Great Basin, though the southern third of the state is all desert. It is also home to numerous lakes, some of which are larger than others. If you ever find yourself visiting the state and want to escape the heat, these are the 15 best lakes in Nevada.

1. Lake Tahoe; Douglas & Washoe County

Lake Tahoe, NevadaSource: topseller / shutterstock
Lake Tahoe

This major tourist attractions sits within the Sierra Nevada and is shared between California and Nevada. The freshwater lake is the largest alpine lake in all of North America and it is quite magnificent.

Lake Tahoe was formed over 2 million years ago and is known for its beauty. The 49,000 hectare lake sits at an elevation of over 1,800 metres and is accessible throughout the entire year.

In the winter, Lake Tahoe is a famous ski destination and even hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics. In the summer, tourists come to enjoy boating, jet skiing, paragliding and swimming, amongst other things.

2. Lake Mead; Clark County

Lake MeadSource: SNEHIT / shutterstock
Lake Mead

Sitting along the Colorado River, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the country. The 64,000 hectare lake is just 39 kilometres east of Las Vegas, sitting partly within the state of Arizona.

Lake Mead is surrounded by mountain ranges, making it extremely picturesque. This is especially true at sunset, attracting photographers from all over the world.

In addition to just being extremely beautiful, Lake Mead is also used for recreational purposes. Boating is the most popular thing to do here, although fishing, water skiing and swimming are also offered.

3. Pyramid Lake; Washoe County

Pyramid Lake, NevadaSource: Terry W Ryder / shutterstock
Pyramid Lake

Although Pyramid Lake is fed by the Truckee River, it has no outlet, with water leaving only by evaporation. The lake sits in the slopes of the Sierra Nevada at an elevation of 1,157 metres.

The 49,000 hectare lake is the largest remnant of the ancient Lake Lahontan, which is from the last ice age. Anaho Island sits within the south part of the lake and is famous for its colony of American white pelicans.

Pyramid Lake is not a recreational lake, it’s just a stunning lake that is known for its beauty. People come to admire it and its surrounding area.

4. Lake Mohave; Clark County

Lake MohaveSource: Brent 1 / shutterstock
Lake Mohave

Lake Mohave is just south of Mead Lake and also sits along the Colorado River. It is also shared with Arizona and part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

The 10,700 hectare lake is a haven for scuba divers thanks to the Black Canyon, Ringbolt Rapids and wreck dives. The Black Canyon also features a number of great hot springs.

Swimming, boating, kayaking and water skiing are offered at the lake. Fishing is also popular thanks to the abundance of rainbow trout, largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish and channel catfish.

5. Lake Las Vegas; Clark County

Lake Las VegasSource: John Vanhara / shutterstock
Lake Las Vegas

This artificial lake was developed solely for the purpose of tourism, with three massive resorts sitting around its 16 kilometre shoreline. Lake Las Vegas is a hot spot for tourists that would prefer it to the much livelier Las Vegas.

In addition to the resorts, there is also a large casino and two golf courses at the 130 hectare lake. Each resort also features a swimming beach and offers water sports like SUP, kayaking and paddle boarding.

Adrenaline junkies can enjoy wakeboarding, fly boarding and water skiing on the lake. Those that would prefer to relax can sunbathe, go for a swim or sip a cocktail at one of the resort’s lakefront bars.

6. Walker Lake; Mineral County

Walker Lake, NevadaSource: Anthony Montoya / shutterstock
Walker Lake

Walker Lake is a natural lake that sits on the east side of the Wassuk Range. It was named after mountain man Joseph R. Walker.

The Walker Lake Recreation Area (now called Monument Beach) is located on the west side of the 13,000 hectare lake. Oddly enough, the world’s largest ammunition depot is just south of the lake.

The scenery at the lake is spectacular, especially from the side of U.S. Route 95. It is also a good place to go swimming, picnicking, boating and fishing.

7. Angel Lake; Elko County

Angel Lake, NevadaSource: DM Larson / shutterstock
Angel Lake

This glacial lake sits at an elevation of 2,554 metres above sea level in the East Humboldt Range. Angel Lake is a small lake, but a truly beautiful one thanks to its surrounding cliffs and stunning colour.

The 5.3 hectare lake is a very popular recreational spot, especially amongst kayakers, canoers and anglers. There is also a hiking trail that goes for over seven kilometres around the shoreline and into the lake’s surrounding area.

Angel Lake Campground sits to the east of the lake, offering single and double campsites that boast fabulous views of the lake. The campground’s facilities are also available for day-use.

8. Washoe Lake; Washoe County

Washoe Lake, NevadaSource: Katie Dickinson / shutterstock
Washoe Lake

This 2,347 hectare lake is located in the Washoe Valley, east of Lake Tahoe and north of Carson City. It is an extremely shallow lake, making it a haven for a variety of bird species.

Washoe Lake is popular amongst water sports lovers, particularly windsurfers and kite boarders. This is thanks to the daily gust of wind that often occurs throughout the summer months, which is known as the Washoe Zephyr.

On the southeast side of the lake is the Washoe Lake State Park. The park is open year-round and offers picnicking, hiking, horseback riding and camping.

9. Spooner Lake; Washoe County

Spooner Lake, NevadaSource: Laura Maeva / shutterstock
Spooner Lake

Sitting just east of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada, Spooner Lake is located in the Lake Tahoe–Nevada State Park. The lake is an oasis for outdoor lovers, what with its backcountry surroundings and magnificent scenery.

Spooner Lake is regularly stocked with trout, making it a popular fishing destination. It is also the starting point of an eight kilometre trail that links it to nearby Marlette Lake.

Those that want to stay the night can do so by camping or staying in one of the lakeside cabins. It is also possible to visit the lake on a day-trip to enjoy its surrounding backcountry.

10. Lamoille Lake; Elko County

Lamoille Lake, NevadaSource: DM Larson / shutterstock
Lamoille Lake

This glacial lake sits in the Ruby Mountains at an elevation of nearly 3,000 metres! Lamoille Lake is at the start of the beautiful Lamoille Canyon, making it extremely beautiful.

The area around the lake is popular amongst hikers, as the trail is part of the Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail. This 61 kilometre trail is famous for offering some of the most spectacular scenery in the country.

Fishing, picnicking and camping is also offered at the lake. Although most come for the trail and the scenery.

11. Topaz Lake; Douglas County

Topaz Lake, NevadaSource: Sahani Photography / shutterstock
Topaz Lake

Topaz Lake sits along the California-Nevada border just southeast of Lake Tahoe in the slopes of the Sierra Nevada. The 908 hectare reservoir was built in 1922 by the damming of the West Walker River.

Today, Topaz Lake is a popular recreational destination thanks to its fantastic water skiing, jet skiing, boating and fishing. In fact, both states keep it will stocked with trout.

Visitors that wish to stay at the lake overnight will find three campgrounds surrounding the lake. This makes it a great spot to use as a base for exploring the area.

12. Wild Horse Reservoir; Elko County

Wild Horse Reservoir, NevadaSource: Ajinkya9 / shutterstock
Wild Horse Reservoir

This man-made lake was made by the impounding of the Owyhee River. The 1,150 hectare lake sits within the Duck Valley Indian Reservation and is home to the Wild Horse State Recreation Area.

The recreational area is a great spot year round, offering water skiing, picnicking, boating, ice skating, snowmobiling and skiing. It is also possible to go fishing throughout the entire year.

There are camping grounds within the recreational area, but otherwise there are few places to stay for the night. But the lake and its surrounding valley is so beautiful that most visitors want to stay here to enjoy it.

13. Lake Lahontan; Lyon & Churchill Counties

Lake Lahontan, NevadaSource: Joe Prendergast / shutterstock
Lake Lahontan

This is a modern lake that sits on the Carson River. The lake’s 111 kilometres of shoreline is completely made up of the Lahontan State Recreation Area.

Lake Lahontan is a great place for recreational activities like boating, camping and fishing. It is well stocked with wipers, white bass, channel catfish, walleye and largemouth bass.

Visitors that prefer not to get their feet wet can enjoy picnicking and hiking. Please be aware that there is a small fee to enter the recreational area and enjoy the lake.

14. Wilson Reservoir; Elko County

Wilson Reservoir, NevadaSource: Famartin / Wikimedia
Wilson Reservoir

Wilson Reservoir is a man-made lake that sits at an elevation of over 1,600 metres. The land surrounding the lake is owned by the Petan Ranch, but the lake itself is open to the public.

This is an exceptionally scenic lake thanks to the surrounding Bull Run Mountains. Its public-use areas are home to camping sites, picnic areas and boat ramps.

Many visitors come to Wilson Reservoir to fish for striped bass, channel catfish, walleye and crappie. All of these can be caught year-round.

15. Overland Lake; Elko County

Overland Lake, NevadaSource: G. Thomas at English Wikipedia / Wikimedia
Overland Lake

This stunning lake is picture perfect, being in the Overland Canyon and surrounded by the magnificent Ruby Mountain. Overland Lake is the perfect place to get away from it all.

The 61 kilometre Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail skirts the eastern shore of the lake, connecting it to other lakes in the county. This part of the trail is a three hour hike, making it easy to do on a day-trip.

In addition to being known for its great, scenic hiking, Overland Lake is also a good place to view wildlife. It is also possible to go fishing and horseback riding.

15 Best Lakes in Nevada:

  • Lake Tahoe; Douglas & Washoe County
  • Lake Mead; Clark County
  • Pyramid Lake; Washoe County
  • Lake Mohave; Clark County
  • Lake Las Vegas; Clark County
  • Walker Lake; Mineral County
  • Angel Lake; Elko County
  • Washoe Lake; Washoe County
  • Spooner Lake; Washoe County
  • Lamoille Lake; Elko County
  • Topaz Lake; Douglas County
  • Wild Horse Reservoir; Elko County
  • Lake Lahontan; Lyon & Churchill Counties
  • Wilson Reservoir; Elko County
  • Overland Lake; Elko County