Alabama, a state renowned for its natural beauty, brims with an array of awe-inspiring landscapes that captivate the hearts of locals and tourists alike. Among these, the lakes of Alabama stand as serene gems, offering tranquil escapes from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. These water bodies are not just for show—they’re teeming with recreational activities and house a diverse range of wildlife, making them perfect spots for nature enthusiasts.
Nestled within the rolling hills, verdant forests, and sprawling farmlands of Alabama, these lakes are testament to the state’s rich natural heritage. They provide a canvas for a plethora of activities including fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, and simply basking in the serenity they offer. From the expansive, man-made Guntersville Lake to the pristine waters of Lewis Smith Lake, each of these 15 lakes in Alabama brings a unique charm that beckons explorers to embark on an unforgettable aquatic journey.
So whether you’re an angler eager for your next catch, a water sports enthusiast in search of your next adventure, or a peace-seeker yearning for a tranquil retreat, these Alabama lakes promise to deliver an unmatched experience. Sit back, let the soothing sounds of lapping water and rustling leaves serenade you, as we embark on this journey across the 15 best lakes in Alabama. Let’s dive in!
15 Best Lakes in Alabama
1. Guntersville Lake, Jackson & Marshall Counties
Nestled amidst the natural beauty of Jackson and Marshall Counties, Guntersville Lake is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Boasting 69,000 acres of sparkling water, the lake is a renowned destination for fishing, particularly for bass. But it doesn’t stop there. The verdant shores and clear waters offer a myriad of recreational activities, from boating and swimming to hiking and bird-watching.
The surrounding Lake Guntersville State Park further enhances the experience. With its diverse wildlife, including the majestic bald eagle, and facilities like a resort lodge, campground, and golf course, Guntersville Lake perfectly blends nature’s splendor with modern amenities, offering an unforgettable experience to all visitors.
2. Lewis Smith Lake, Cullman, Walker & Winston Counties
Often touted as one of the cleanest lakes in the state, Lewis Smith Lake is a jewel nestled in Cullman, Walker, and Winston counties. With its deep, crystal clear waters and 500 miles of untouched shoreline, the lake is a picture-perfect retreat for those seeking tranquility and recreational activities alike.
Not just a feast for the eyes, Lewis Smith Lake is also an angler’s paradise. Its waters teem with a variety of fish, including bass, bream, and crappie, making it an exciting spot for fishing enthusiasts. And with options for boating, swimming, and camping, this lake offers an immersive escape into nature’s grandeur.
3. Lake Martin, Tallapoosa, Elmore and Coosa counties
Encompassing an impressive area of 44,000 acres, Lake Martin is not only one of Alabama’s largest lakes but also one of the most beautiful. The lake, situated in Tallapoosa, Elmore, and Coosa counties, captivates visitors with its serenity and stunning scenic beauty. Whether it’s a relaxing day of sunbathing on the shore or an adrenaline-pumping water-skiing adventure, Lake Martin caters to everyone.
The surrounding area further accentuates Lake Martin’s charm. Points of interest like the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail, a picturesque hiking route, and several cozy lake houses make this body of water a fantastic getaway. The lake’s biodiversity, including frequent sightings of herons and turtles, also adds to its appeal for nature lovers.
4. Wheeler Lake, Madison County
One of the largest bodies of water in Alabama, Wheeler Lake, located in Madison County, is a nature lover’s delight. This expansive lake, with its inviting waters and lush surroundings, is an irresistible draw for those who love fishing, boating, and everything in between.
Wheeler Lake’s prolific fish population, including largemouth bass, catfish, and crappie, makes it an angler’s dream. Meanwhile, its tranquil atmosphere and scenic beauty create an ideal backdrop for leisurely boat rides and serene evenings. With numerous campsites and picnic spots dotting the shoreline, Wheeler Lake is indeed a paradise for outdoor aficionados.
5. Neely Henry Lake, Calhoun, Etowah & St. Clair counties
Snaking its way through Calhoun, Etowah, and St. Clair counties, Neely Henry Lake is a true gem. Its 11,000 acres of shimmering waters and verdant banks provide a blissful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Visitors can immerse themselves in a host of activities like fishing, boating, and picnicking.
An array of fish species, including largemouth bass and spotted bass, populate Neely Henry Lake, making it an angler’s delight. The vibrant local wildlife, coupled with the peaceful ambiance of the lake, also makes it an idyllic spot for bird watching and photography, ensuring a memorable experience for every visitor.
6. Weiss Lake, Cherokee County
Referred to as the “Crappie Capital of the World,” Weiss Lake in Cherokee County offers an unforgettable angling experience. Its sprawling 30,200-acre waterscape is rich with crappie, bass, and catfish, making it an alluring destination for fishing enthusiasts from far and wide.
But fishing is not all that Weiss Lake has to offer. Its stunning surroundings, dotted with beautiful campsites and hiking trails, provide ample opportunities for adventure and relaxation. Whether you prefer a thrilling jet-ski ride across the lake or a peaceful evening gazing at the sunset, Weiss Lake has something for everyone.
7. Lake Wedowee, Randolph County
Also known as the R. L. Harris Reservoir, Lake Wedowee in Randolph County is an oasis of serenity and natural beauty. The 10,660-acre lake is known for its crystal-clear waters, sandy beaches, and verdant shoreline, making it an appealing destination for relaxation and outdoor activities.
Fishing is a popular activity at Lake Wedowee, thanks to its abundant bass population. However, the lake also offers facilities for boating, swimming, and picnicking, catering to a variety of interests. Whether it’s a family outing or a solo adventure, Lake Wedowee promises a delightful retreat amidst Alabama’s nature.
8. Lay Lake, St. Clair, Talladega, Shelby, Coosa & Chilton counties
Spreading across five counties, Lay Lake is a popular spot among outdoor lovers and fishing enthusiasts. With 12,000 acres of water surface, this lake is a haven for a wide variety of water sports, including boating, swimming, and jet-skiing.
Lay Lake is especially known for its bass fishing, hosting numerous tournaments throughout the year. Its peaceful surroundings, coupled with the enchanting view of the Alabama countryside, make Lay Lake a favored spot for camping and picnicking. A day at Lay Lake is sure to leave you revitalized and wanting to return.
9. Jordan Lake, Elmore County
Located in Elmore County, Jordan Lake is a beautiful 6,800-acre reservoir that beckons visitors with its tranquil ambiance and recreational opportunities. From its thriving fish population, which includes spotted bass and catfish, to its beautiful picnic spots, Jordan Lake is a place to create lasting memories.
For those who want more than a day trip, there are well-equipped campgrounds nearby. Spend the day exploring the lake by boat or canoe, and then relax by a campfire under the star-filled Alabama sky. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a soaring bald eagle or hear the call of a loon echoing across the water.
10. Walter F. George Lake, Barbour County
Walter F. George Lake, also known as Lake Eufaula, is a massive 45,000-acre lake that straddles the Alabama-Georgia border. With a diverse fish population, including largemouth bass and crappie, this lake is a top fishing destination, especially during the spring spawning season.
However, the lake offers more than just fantastic fishing. Its expansive size and stunning surroundings make it an excellent venue for a wide range of activities like boating, water skiing, and bird watching. The adjacent Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge also offers spectacular wildlife sightings, making this lake a great destination for nature enthusiasts.
11. Lake Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County
Situated just north of Tuscaloosa, Lake Tuscaloosa is a 5,885-acre reservoir renowned for its serene ambiance and recreational possibilities. Its clear waters, framed by a verdant shoreline, invite visitors to partake in a plethora of activities such as boating, swimming, and fishing.
Lake Tuscaloosa is also a paradise for fishing enthusiasts. With a healthy population of largemouth bass, spotted bass, and crappie, it’s easy to spend a day casting lines on the calm waters. Coupled with opportunities for hiking and wildlife viewing in the surrounding areas, Lake Tuscaloosa provides a delightful outdoor escape.
12. Logan Martin Lake, St. Clair & Talladega counties
Known as “The Lake of a Thousand Coves,” Logan Martin Lake spans St. Clair and Talladega counties. This 15,263-acre reservoir offers 275 miles of shoreline, presenting countless opportunities for water-based activities and relaxation.
Whether you’re an angler drawn to its plentiful bass and catfish or a water sports enthusiast eager to partake in water skiing or wakeboarding, Logan Martin Lake has you covered. The lake’s picturesque coves offer serene retreats for relaxation and picnicking, making it a popular choice for families and nature lovers alike.
13. Wilson Lake, Colbert, Lauderdale & Lawrence counties
Wilson Lake, nestled in the counties of Colbert, Lauderdale, and Lawrence, is a striking water body teeming with possibilities. With its abundance of sport fish, including smallmouth bass and crappie, Wilson Lake is often buzzing with anglers seeking a fruitful catch.
But Wilson Lake is not just for fishing enthusiasts. Its scenic beauty, complemented by numerous hiking and bird-watching opportunities, makes it a cherished getaway. Whether it’s paddling along the shoreline, enjoying a picnic, or simply soaking in the spectacular views, Wilson Lake never ceases to captivate its visitors.
14. Bankhead Lake, Jefferson, Tuscaloosa & Walker counties
Stretching across three counties, Bankhead Lake offers an idyllic blend of recreational opportunities and natural splendor. Its expansive water surface is perfect for a variety of water sports, while its abundant fish population, including catfish and bass, ensures a rewarding fishing experience.
Not just a water sports hub, Bankhead Lake’s tranquil surroundings offer a wonderful setting for camping, hiking, and wildlife viewing. With its captivating sunset views and the occasional sight of a soaring eagle, Bankhead Lake guarantees an unforgettable lakeside adventure.
15. Lake Lurleen State Park, Tuscaloosa County
Named after Alabama’s only female governor, Lurleen Wallace, Lake Lurleen State Park in Tuscaloosa County is a testament to nature’s magnificence. This 1,625-acre park, centered around a beautiful 250-acre lake, offers a scenic retreat with a rich variety of outdoor activities.
Whether you’re paddling across the calm waters of the lake, casting a line to catch bass, or exploring the 23 miles of multi-use trails, there’s something for everyone. With its well-equipped campsites and picnic areas, Lake Lurleen State Park is an ideal destination for a fun-filled family outing or a peaceful retreat amidst nature’s beauty.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the largest lake in Alabama?
The largest lake in Alabama by surface area is Guntersville Lake. It spans over 69,000 acres, making it the state’s biggest and one of the most popular lakes for fishing and water sports.
2. Can you swim in the lakes in Alabama?
Yes, many lakes in Alabama are suitable for swimming. Some, like Lake Martin and Lake Lurleen, even have designated swimming areas. However, always ensure that the specific area is safe for swimming and abide by all local regulations and advisories.
3. Are there alligators in Alabama lakes?
Yes, American alligators can be found in the southern parts of Alabama, especially in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, and some have been spotted in lakes. However, they are generally not a threat to people if left undisturbed.
4. Is fishing allowed on all Alabama lakes?
Fishing is a popular activity on most lakes in Alabama. Some lakes, like Weiss Lake and Lewis Smith Lake, are famous for their fishing opportunities. Always make sure to have the appropriate fishing license and follow all local fishing regulations.
5. Which Alabama lakes are best for boating?
Alabama boasts several lakes that provide excellent boating experiences. Among them, Guntersville Lake, Wheeler Lake, and Logan Martin Lake are known for their expansive water surfaces, making them great for boating.
6. Are there camping facilities near Alabama lakes?
Yes, many lakes in Alabama have camping facilities nearby. Some, like Lake Lurleen State Park and Wheeler Lake, offer well-equipped campgrounds with amenities like picnic areas, restrooms, and sometimes even electrical hookups.
7. What types of fish can be found in Alabama lakes?
Alabama lakes are home to a variety of fish species. Depending on the lake, you can find largemouth bass, spotted bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, catfish, and more. Check with local fishing reports or authorities for specific information on each lake.
8. Can I rent a boat on Alabama lakes?
Yes, boat rentals are available on many Alabama lakes. Services often include rentals for motorboats, pontoon boats, kayaks, and canoes. It’s recommended to check with local marinas or lake management for specific rental options.
9. Are pets allowed at Alabama lakes?
While some Alabama lakes allow pets, it varies by location. Many state parks do allow pets, but they must typically be leashed and under control at all times. Always check specific rules and regulations before bringing a pet to a lake.
10. What water sports are popular on Alabama lakes?
A wide range of water sports are enjoyed on Alabama’s lakes. These include swimming, boating, fishing, jet-skiing, wakeboarding, and water skiing. Always remember to prioritize safety and abide by any local regulations while participating in water sports.
11. What is the cleanest lake in Alabama?
While many Alabama lakes maintain high water quality standards, Lewis Smith Lake is often cited as one of the cleanest. Its deep, clear waters make it a favorite for swimming, boating, and fishing. However, it’s always a good idea to check local water quality reports as conditions can change.
12. Where is the best place to live on a lake in Alabama?
Choosing the best place to live on a lake in Alabama depends largely on individual preferences for lifestyle, climate, and recreational activities. However, Lake Guntersville, located near the city of Guntersville, is often praised for its stunning scenery, rich fishing opportunities, and proximity to amenities. Lake Martin is another popular choice, known for its beautiful waterfront properties and vast recreational opportunities.
13. What is the largest natural lake in Alabama?
Lake Tuscaloosa is one of the largest natural lakes in Alabama. It is located in Tuscaloosa County and offers a wealth of recreational activities such as fishing, boating, and swimming.
14. What is the largest man-made lake in Alabama?
The largest man-made lake in Alabama is Guntersville Lake. Covering over 69,000 acres and stretching across two counties, it offers a wealth of recreational activities. The lake is renowned for its fishing opportunities, with a thriving population of bass among other species.