15 Best Lakes in Missouri

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
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Missouri is located in the Midwestern USA, boasting a diverse landscape. It is a mixture of the Dissected Till Plains, the Ozark Mountains and the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, with the Missouri River dissecting the state in half. Geographically, Missouri sits near the centre of the country and is landlocked by eight states.

Missouri has a large array of flora and fauna, which includes reptiles, mammals, birds, fish, trees and shrubs. It also has a large amount of freshwater, having numerous rivers, streams and lakes.

Lets have a look at the best lakes in Missouri:

1. Lake of the Ozarks

Lake of the OzarksSource: flickr
Lake of the Ozarks

Nicknamed ‘The Magic Dragon’ thanks to its serpentine shape, Lake of the Ozarks sits in centre Missouri, stretching across four counties. It is a massive reservoir that was created by the damming of the Osage River in 1931.

When the Lake of the Ozarks was built is was one of the world’s largest man-made lakes. Today, it is the largest reservoir in the state, with a surface area of over 200 square kilometres.

Lake of the Ozarks’ shoreline is 1,850 kilometres and is home to numerous settlements, parks and golf courses. There are also plenty of vacation rentals, camping grounds, marinas and restaurants sitting along the lake’s shoreline.

2. Table Rock Lake

Table Rock LakeSource: flickr
Table Rock Lake

This artificial lake sits in the Ozark Mountains at an elevation of nearly 280 metres above sea level. It is a beautiful lake that boasts spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, making it a popular draw for the nearby town of Branson.

Table Rock Lake features a shoreline of over 1,000 kilometres, with the Table Rock State Park sitting along the east side of it. The shoreline is also home to marinas, camping grounds, an RV park, restaurants and shops.

Fishing is popular at Table Rock Lake, with trout being regularly stocked by the Missouri Department of Conservation. It is also a great place for boating and swimming, with the surrounding area being ideal for hiking and cycling.

3. Stockton Lake

Stockton LakeSource: flickr
Stockton Lake

Stockton Lake is a ‘V’ shaped lake that sits in three Missouri counties, covering an area of 100 square kilometres. The lake is a man-made lake that was created by the damming the Sac River in 1969.

There are a number of coves around the lake, making it a popular place for kite boarding, windsurfing, wakeboarding and water skiing. It is also known for its great sailing, hosting numerous races throughout the year, including the prestigious Governor’s Cup Regatta.

Stockton Lake’s shoreline boasts a 24 kilometre equestrian trail that is also used by cyclists and hikers. There are also camping grounds, marinas and accommodations sitting around the peaceful lake.

4. Mark Twain Lake

Mark Twain LakeSource: flickr
Mark Twain Lake

Named after renowned writer Mark Twain, Mark Twain Lake is a reservoir that stretches across two Missouri counties. The lake is surrounded by the hometown of the author, as well as the Mark Twain State Park, which boasts hiking trails and camping grounds.

The 7,500 hectare lake was created by the Clarence Cannon Dam along the Salt River. Today, Mark Twain Lake is a popular vacation destination that offers great recreational activities.

Boaters, hunters and fishermen all flock to Mark Twain Lake, as do families wanting a place to go swimming, picnicking and camping. Its 459 kilometre shoreline features marinas, playgrounds, beaches, picnic shelters and accommodation options.

5. Smithville Lake

Smithville LakeSource: birderslounge
Smithville Lake

Smithville Lake is a reservoir that is located near the city of Smithville, providing water to the city as well as others in the state. The 29 square kilometre lake stretches across two counties and was constructed by the damming of the Platte River.

Smithville Lake boasts a 282 kilometre shoreline that features beaches, campsites, marinas, restaurants and golf courses. The area also has over 40 kilometres of walking, cycling and equestrian trails, and over 17 kilometres of mountain biking trails.

Hunting is popular around the lake, with wild turkey and white-tail deer being present. Fishing is also favoured and can be done from the shore or from a boat, with the lake being stocked with white bass, largemouth bass, blue catfish, walleye, crappie and plenty of other species.

6. Lake Taneycomo

Lake TaneycomoSource: flickr
Lake Taneycomo

Sitting in the Ozark Mountains along the White River, Lake Taneycomo is a man-made reservoir that has the characteristics of both a lake and a river. It features both cold, shallow water, and deep, warm water, offering a great mix of activities.

Tourists have been visiting Lake Taneycomo since the 1930s, as water skiing, swimming, boating and fishing are all enjoyed here. The lake’s communities feature different accommodation options, restaurants, hiking and sightseeing opportunities.

Lake Taneycomo is located in Missouri’s Taney County near the city of Forsyth. It is open year-round and accessible via the city of Branson, which is a great base for those wanting to visit the lake.

7. Lake Wappapello

Lake WappapelloSource: sundownermarine
Lake Wappapello

Created in 1941 by the forming of the Wappapello Dam, Lake Wappapello is primarily used for flood control, though it is also a popular recreational lake. The lake sits around 190 kilometres from the city of St. Louis, with many locals enjoying the lake on weekends and summer holidays.

Swimming, boating, canoeing and kayaking are a few of the popular activities enjoyed at Lake Wappapello, as is fishing. White bass, crappies, catfish and largemouth bass populate the lake, attracting anglers from all over the country.

Lake Wappapello State Park is located along the lake’s shoreline and features hiking trails, equestrian trails and bicycle trails. It also has camping grounds and public boat ramps.

8. Lake Jacomo

Lake JacomoSource: flickr
Lake Jacomo

Lake Jacomo is a freshwater reservoir that is known for its great sailing, windsurfing, stand up paddle boarding and pontoon boating. The lake is home to the largest marina in the Kansas City area, which offers boat rental and access ramps.

Fishing is also popular at Lake Jacomo, with crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill, carp, catfish and plenty of other species populated the 3.9 square kilometre lake. The lake’s 31 kilometre shoreline features campgrounds, picnic shelters, trails and an education centre (Kemper Outdoor Education Center).

Lake Jacomo is located within Fleming Park near the city of Blue Springs, which is the Kansas City metropolitan area’s seventh largest city. The lake opened in 1959 and is managed by Jackson County Parks and Recreation.

9. Fellows Lake

Fellows LakeSource: flickr
Fellows Lake

Fellows Lake is owned by the City Utilities of Springfield, as it supplies water to the Missouri city. It is also one of the state’s top spots for Muskellunge fishing, as the lake is home to the largest muskies in Missouri.

The 3.5 square kilometre lake is a popular recreational spot not only for locals of the city of Springfield, but from others across that state and the rest of the country. It boasts numerous public areas for picnicking, kite flying and barbequing, as well as having two public boat docks.

Fellows Lake was created in 1955 with the construction of the Fellows Lake Dam. The lake is quite peaceful, as it has beautiful scenery and a maximum boat engine limit of 40hp.

10. Pomme de Terre Lake

Pomme de Terre LakeSource: flickr
Pomme de Terre Lake

Pomme de Terre Lake is located at the confluence of the Pomme de Terre River and the Lindley Creek in southwest Missouri. It is a lovely lake that is part the lakes in the Osage River Basin.

The lake was built in 1961 for flood control purposes, but today is also a very popular recreation destination. It features two public beaches, 650 camp sites and is home to the Pomme de Terre State Park.

Water skiing is extremely popular here, as is swimming, canoeing and boating. The lake is also known for its Muskie fishing, with the Conservation Department keeping it stocked.

11. Clearwater Lake

Clearwater LakeSource: flickr
Clearwater Lake

Clearwater Lake is located just over nine kilometres from the city of Piedmont in southeast Missouri. It is a lovely lake that is surrounded by trees and hills, sitting along the Black River.

Although the lake was originally built for flood control, today it is a popular holiday destination thanks to its great recreational activities and surrounding natural beauty. Swimming, boating and fishing are the most popular things to do here, as are water skiing, wakeboarding and knee boarding.

There are numerous campsites surrounding the lake, as well as three marinas, playgrounds, biking trails and hiking trails. Numerous accommodation options are available both along the shoreline and in nearby communities.

12. Blue Springs Lake

Blue Springs LakeSource: flickr
Blue Springs Lake

Blue Springs Lake is a freshwater reservoir that is located near the city of Blue Springs in northwest Missouri. The 290 hectare lake is just a 30 minute drive away from Kansas City near the city of Independence.

The lake boasts one of the best swimming beaches in Jackson County, with the beaches having lifeguards, shower facilities and restrooms. Blue Springs Lake is also popular for fishing and boating.

The lake sits within the 32 square kilometre Fleming Park, which is also home to Lake Jacomo. The park is equipped with marinas, campgrounds and an education centre, as well as the Native Hooved Animal Enclosure.

13. Longview Lake

Longview LakeSource: nirmalatm
Longview Lake

Longview Lake is located in Missouri’s Jackson County close to Kansas City, Grandview and Lee’s Summit. It is a freshwater reservoir that is used for flood control, recreation and wildlife conservation.

The lake is known for its great jet skiing, windsurfing, power boating, fishing and swimming, and even boasts a fantastic beach. There is also a full service marina, camping grounds and a golf course surrounding the lake.

Longview Lake is located in Longview Lake Park, which offers equestrian activities, hiking, picnicking and cycling. It is open from Memorial Day to Labour Day, though the weekends throughout the summer months is the most popular time to visit the lake.

14. Truman Reservoir

Truman ReservoirSource: boatus
Truman Reservoir

Named after former president Harry S. Truman, Truman Reservoir is the largest man-made lake in Missouri. The lake sits along the Osage River between the cities of Clinton and Warsaw, extending through four counties.

Truman Reservoir is home to the Harry S. Truman Regional Visitor Center, the Harry S. Truman State Park and the Weaubleau-Osceola structure; a 330 million year old crater. It is known for its great fishing, hosting major fishing tournaments throughout the season.

The lake is surrounded by beautiful nature, which offers hiking, picnicking and camping. There is also an abundance of wildlife that can be spotted around the lake and it is a popular place for bird watching.

15. McDaniel Lake

McDaniel Lake, SpringfieldSource: springfieldmo
McDaniel Lake, Springfield

McDaniel Lake sits around eight kilometres from the city of Springfield and acts as one of its main water sources. The lake is also a popular place for fishing, though other water sports are prohibited.

Boats are not allowed on the lake, though there are two bridges that provide people with great spots for fishing. Carp, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel fish and sunfish live in the lake, as do other species.

McDaniel Lake is quite peaceful and quiet thanks to its no boat policy. Its shoreline is a great place for hiking and cycling, or just sitting and breathing in the fresh air.

15 Best Lakes in Missouri:

  • Lake of the Ozarks
  • Table Rock Lake
  • Stockton Lake
  • Mark Twain Lake
  • Smithville Lake
  • Lake Taneycomo
  • Lake Wappapello
  • Lake Jacomo
  • Fellows Lake
  • Pomme de Terre Lake
  • Clearwater Lake
  • Blue Springs Lake
  • Longview Lake
  • Truman Reservoir
  • McDaniel Lake