15 Best Lakes in Indiana

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
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The 38th largest state, Indiana is located in Midwestern USA and has a total area of over 94,000 square kilometres. It is part of the Great Lakes Region, with its northwest border sitting along Lake Michigan.

Indiana is home to rolling hills, lowlands and sand dunes, with its average altitude being 230 metres above sea level. The Wabash River dissects the state, while the White River zigzags through it. Indiana is also home to numerous state parks, lakes and man-made reservoirs. These are the 15 Best Lakes in Indiana.

1. Tippecanoe Lake

Tippecanoe LakeSource: tippylakecc
Tippecanoe Lake

This large glacial lake is located in north-central Indiana, just over three kilometres west of the town of North Webster. It is the deepest natural lake in the state, having a depth of 37 metres, making it an extremely popular recreational spot.

Boating, fishing and water skiing are popular things to do at Tippecanoe Lake. In addition to having three marinas, the lake’s shoreline also features a country club, a golf course, a resort and mineral springs. It is also surrounded by expensive residential properties.

There are a number of public access points to the lake that have boat ramps, as well as a couple of private ones. Restaurants, bars and boat service centres are also found around the lake, as is a beach that offers swimming.

2. Lake Maxinkuckee

Lake MaxinkuckeeSource: flickr
Lake Maxinkuckee

The second largest natural lake in Indiana, Lake Maxinkuckee is an eight square kilometre lake that is located near the town of Culver. The first inhabitants of the lake were Mound builders, but today it is a popular recreational lake.

Fishing is one of the most favoured things to do here, which is available year round. Locals and visitors particularly enjoy coming in the winter to go ice fishing, while the summer is popular for sailing.

Lake Maxinkuckee has a maximum depth of 27 metres and sits at an elevation of 223 metres above sea level. It is surrounded by parks and golf courses, with Culver sitting along the northwest shore of the lake.

3. Lake Wawasee

Lake WawaseeSource: debjustsoldit
Lake Wawasee

Lake Wawasee is Indiana’s largest natural lake, having a surface area of 12 square kilometres and an average depth of 6.7 metres. The lake sits southeast of the town of Syracuse and was previously named Turkey Lake, as it is in Turkey Creek Township.

The lake has a long history, dating back to the Pleistocene epoch. Today it is a known summer vacation area, particularly amongst residents from Indianapolis and Chicago.

There are numerous beaches, marinas, resorts and residences along the lake’s shoreline, as well as restaurants and a yacht club. On July 4th, Lake Wawasee hosts an incredible fireworks display.

4. Patoka Lake

Patoka LakeSource: commons.wikimedia
Patoka Lake

Indiana’s second largest reservoir, Patoka Lake is spread across three counties in the southern part of the state. The Patoka Lake Dam sits above the reservoir, which was built along the Patoka River for flood control purposes.

Patoka Lake is a lovely reservoir, home to several migrating birds and a variety of fish. It is a popular place for photographers, though fishing is also big here, with the lake being stocked with walleye, bass, crappie, bluegill and various other species.

There are boat ramps, fishing areas, swimming areas, picnic areas, hiking trails and water-skiing zones in and around the 3,600 hectare lake. There is also a golf course and over 500 campsites along the shoreline.

5. Lake Monroe

Lake MonroeSource: flickr
Lake Monroe

Located around 10 kilometres from the city of Bloomington, Lake Monroe is the largest lake that sits entirely in Indiana. The lake is over 4,300 hectare, spreading across two counties.

Lake Monroe is surrounded by Indiana’s only federally protected U.S. Wilderness Area; the Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area. There is also a Boy Scout camp that sits along the eastern shore of the lake.

A marina, resort and sailing club sit along the lake’s shoreline, as do a few public boat ramps. Fishing is highly popular, with the lake regularly having bluegill, largemouth bass, hybrid striped bass and crappie.

6. Lake Shafer

Lake ShaferSource: flickr
Lake Shafer

Created in the 1920s from the damming of the Tippecanoe River, Lake Shafer is a 5.22 square kilometre reservoir that sits near the Indiana city of Monticello. Today, it is a popular recreational area that generates a lot of income for White County.

The Indiana Beach Amusement Park and Camp Resort sits along the lake’s shoreline, drawing tourists from all over the country as well as international visitors. The park is filled with games, rides and accommodation options.

There are over 1,000 campsites around the lake, as well as cottages and marinas. The busiest time at Lake Shafer is from April to October, though it can be enjoyed year round.

7. Lake James

Lake JamesSource: flickr
Lake James

Sitting in the northeast corner of Indiana, Lake James is a natural lake that is ranked as having the best water quality in the state. It is part of the James Lake Chain in Steuben County and also extends into neighbouring Michigan.

The Woodland Indians were the first people to live around the lake’s 28.2 kilometre shoreline, followed by the Miami and Potawatomi Indians. By the end of the 19th century, cottages started to appear around the lake.

Today, Lake James is a popular recreational spot, home of the Pokagon State Park. It is known for its great fishing and boating, as well as being popular for water-skiing.

8. Barbee Lake

Barbee LakeSource: barbeelakes
Barbee Lake

This freshwater lake is composed of seven interconnecting lakes in Indiana’s Kosciusko County. Barbee Lake was formed by melting glaciers during the Pleistocene era.

There are over 2,000 residences spread around the 346 hectare lake, most of which sit around the north end of it. There are also a number of marinas sitting around the lake.

Barbee Lake is a popular fishing spot, with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources running a public boat ramp for fishermen. The lake is home to bluegill, yellow perch, largemouth bass, muskellunge, crappie and catfish.

9. Cagles Mill Lake

Cagles Mill LakeSource: flickr
Cagles Mill Lake

Also known as Cataract Lake, Cagles Mill Lake is a reservoir that sits near the community of Cataract. It is part of the Lieber State Recreation Area in the west central part of Indiana.

Cagles Mill Lake was built in 1953 with the damming of Mill Creek. Today, one of its main draws is the nests of bald eagles, which return every year.

Cagles Mill Lake is home to Cataract Falls, which are the largest falls in Indiana.  It consists of two waterfalls, each of which has a series of drops and are exceptionally beautiful.

10. Lake Lemon

Lake LemonSource: flickr
Lake Lemon

Lake Lemon is a 670 hectare lake that sits around 16 kilometres northeast of Indiana’s city of Bloomington. It is both a private and a public lake, with part of it being owned by homeowners and the rest being maintained by the Riddle Point Park.

The lake is home to numerous fish species, including crappie, largemouth bass, catfish and bluegill. There is also a plethora of other wildlife living around the lake, including bald eagles, beavers, muskrat and heron.

There are two public access points to Lake Lemon, each of which has a marina. The lake is also home to the Indiana University Aquatic Center and the private Bloomington Yacht Club.

11. J. Edward Roush Lake

J. Edward Roush LakeSource: usace
J. Edward Roush Lake

J. Edward Roush Lake was named after Indiana State Representative and State Senator. It was previously known as Huntington Lake, as it is located near the city of Huntington.

The reservoir was built when making the J. Edward Roush Lake Dam in 1968 for both flood control and recreational purposes. It is managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Boating, water-skiing, swimming and fishing are popular activities enjoyed in the lake. Picnic areas, campsites and a playground can be found along its shoreline.

12. Salamonie Lake

Salamonie LakeSource: lakeconnected
Salamonie Lake

Salamonie Lake was created by the damming of Salamonie Dam in Indiana’s Wabash County in 1966. The lake sits at 229 metres above sea level and is attached to the Salamonie River State Forest.

Salamonie Lake is a popular family destination, as it is great for recreational activities, with things to do both in and around the lake. Playgrounds, campsites, volleyball courts and hiking trails surround the lake, while boating swimming and fishing can be enjoyed within it.

There is an interpretive centre along the lake’s shoreline that gives visitors the chance to see some of the local wildlife. Wildlife can also be seen when hiking around the surrounding forest.

13. Griffy Lake

Griffy LakeSource: commons.wikimedia
Griffy Lake

Also known as Griffy Reservoir, Griffy Lake is a reservoir in Indiana’s city of Bloomington that was formed by the damming of Griffy Creek. The lake dates back to the 1920s when it supplied water to the city, though today it is primarily used for recreational purposes.

Griffy Lake is surrounded by the Griffy Lake Nature Preserve, which is part of the Indiana University Research and Teaching Preserve. This is an extremely popular area for nature lovers, with hiking trails, fishing and boating being offered.

The nature preserve is open to the public, with part of it being within the campus of Indiana University. The lake has a total surface area of 44 hectares and sits around 192 metres above sea level.

14. Witmer Lake

WitmerlakeSource: witmerlake

Part of the Indian chain of five lakes, Witmer Lake is a natural lake that is located near the town of Wolcottville in northern Indiana. It is the southernmost of the five lakes and is known for its good water quality.

Witmer Lake is a popular fishing spot, with largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, northern pike and crappie calling the lake home. It is also a great lake for canoeing and kayaking.

There is a public boat launch on the lake’s shorelines, as well as around 350 residences. Shops, restaurants and ice-cream parlours also sit around the lake.

15. Mississinewa Lake

Mississinewa LakeSource: lakeconnected
Mississinewa Lake

Mississinewa Lake is a dam that sits in the town of Peru in the central part of Indiana. It was constricted in 1967 for flood control purposes, though today it is a popular recreation destination.

Hiking, camping, boating and fishing are regularly enjoyed in the lake. There are also over 400 campsites, numerous cottages and cabins surrounding it. In addition, Mississinewa Lake is also home to a marina, fishing docks, boat ramps and a beach.

There are a number of areas surrounding the lake that are also popular for recreational purposes, including the Red Bridge State Recreation Area, the Miami State Recreation Area and the Pearson Mill State Recreation Area.

15 Best Lakes in Indiana:

  • Tippecanoe Lake
  • Lake Maxinkuckee
  • Lake Wawasee
  • Patoka Lake
  • Lake Monroe
  • Lake Shafer
  • Lake James
  • Barbee Lake
  • Cagles Mill Lake
  • Lake Lemon
  • J. Edward Roush Lake
  • Salamonie Lake
  • Griffy Lake
  • Witmer Lake
  • Mississinewa Lake