Photogenic lakes are quite prevalent across the state of Nebraska. Between 1500 and 2500 lakes have been observed in the Nebraska Sandhills region alone. Large and small, the lakes of Nebraska help shape the tranquil beauty of the landscape and its rolling hills. In a search to discover the most beautiful lakes in Nebraska, we decided to poll our readers on our
Only In Nebraska Facebook page to hear their recommendations. And so follows a selection of 13 of the best and most beautiful lakes in Nebraska according to our readers.
1. Ponderosa Lake
On the southwestern fringes of the Nebraskan town of Grand Island lies the quaint and private Ponderosa Lake. Popular for boating, fishing, swimming, storm-watching, and sunset admiring, this is a stunning lake that is adored by locals, and it's easy to see why. The setting sun paints the high clouds of a distant storm in vibrant hues of red and orange in this lovely image.
2. Danish Alps Reservoir
The Danish Alps Reservoir is a 219-acre lake near the town of Hubbard. Surrounded by 520 acres of parkland within the Danish Alps State Recreation Area, this lovely reservoir is very popular for fishing, boating, hiking, horseback riding, and camping. Clearly, it offers stunning vistas of colorful sunsets and sunrises as well!
3. Lake McConaughy
Lake McConaughy (lovingly referred to by locals as Lake Mac) is Nebraska's largest man-made lake at about 30,000 acres in size. Located along the North Platte River, this big, beautiful reservoir is widely sought after for its many recreational activities such as fishing, boating, swimming, camping, and more. But its scenic appeal makes it hard to believe the lake is man-made; after all, it is just as picturesque as its surroundings.
4. Johnson Lake
In south-central Nebraska lies the small but well-loved Johnson Lake. Popular for fishing due to its ample supply of walleye, white bass, and wipers, Johnson Lake is also commonly recreated for boating, swimming, camping, hiking, and more. There are also many delightful waterfront restaurants where you can dine by the water and soak in the scenery of the lake and its waterfowl.
5. Jeffery Reservoir
South of the town of Brady is the picturesque Jeffrey Reservoir. At 595 acres in size, Jeffrey Reservoir is among the smaller and lesser-known lakes in Nebraska. Rolling hills surround this beautiful lake, and it's not uncommon to spot sandhill cranes among the waterfowl that frequent this lake. Popular recreation activities are boating, fishing, and camping.
6. Carter Lake
Carter Lake in Omaha is unique in that it is an oxbow lake formed from the Saratoga Bend section of the Missouri River. It was cut off from the main river after the 1877 flood that shifted that section of the Missouri River eastward. Today, Carter Lake is utilized for recreational activities such as fishing, boating, water and jet skiing, birding, swimming, and more.
7. Harlan County Lake
Harlan County Lake in south-central Nebraska is 13,250 acres in size and is as tranquil as they come. Popular recreational activities at Nebraska's second-largest lake include fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and more. This large expanse of water offers endless photographic opportunities, especially as the sun sets in the warm summer months.
8. Lake Maloney
The lovely Lake Maloney is located just six miles south of the town of North Platte. This 1600-acre lake is popular for typical recreational water activities. Additionally, the Lake Maloney State Recreation Area has a golf course and roping club adjacent to the lake, as well as camping for both tent and RV campers. This scenic lake is the perfect spot to watch one of Nebraska's iconic sunsets or sunrises.
9. Merritt Reservoir
Some of the best fishing in Nebraska can be found at Merritt Reservoir. This nearly 3,000-acre lake can be found within the scenic Nebraska Sandhills about 26 miles southwest of Valentine. What makes this lake truly unique is that the Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area it is situated within is a designated International Dark Sky Park. Campers and overnight visitors will be delighted by the brilliant night sky shining above this beautiful lake on a clear night.
10. Memphis Lake
Memphis Lake is a small 48-acre lake located just northwest of the town of Memphis. This charming little lake is open to non-motorized boating, fishing, camping, hiking, hunting, and more. There are also numerous picnic tables scattered around the lake for you to bask in the setting sun as you enjoy a bite by the serene waters.
11. Twin Lakes
It would be quite easy to let the hours slip by as you drink in the beauty of nature at Twin Lakes. These lakes are located about 11 miles west of Lincoln, and with their combined total size of 270 acres, they make for a nice reprieve from busy city life. Non-powered boating, fishing, camping, and swimming are the most popular activities here, along with enjoying the last light of the setting sun on a peaceful evening.
12. Chadron State Park
Perhaps one of Nebraska's better-kept secrets is Chadron Reservoir. Nestled within Chadron State Park (Nebraska's first state park), it is a nature lover’s paradise. The water is pristine and the state park itself offers many lodging options from tent and RV camping to cabin rentals so you can stay for multiple nights. You’ll want to carve out plenty of time for your visit so that you can enjoy all the park has to offer.
13. Sandy Pointe Lake
When it comes to spectacular Nebraska sunsets, perhaps there's no better lake to view them from than Sandy Pointe Lake. Located in the town of Ashland, this little community has some of the best waterfront views a local could ever desire. Hopefully, you know a local in the area that can show you to this pristine little lake.
Do you think our readers hit the nail on the head when they selected the most beautiful lakes in Nebraska? Are there any lakes we did not include that you think belong on this list? Let us know in the comments below!
If you’d love to see more beautiful Nebraska photos or share some of your own, please consider joining the
Nebraska Nature Lovers Facebook group. And if you’re looking for more lake inspiration, here are 12 gorgeous lakes in Nebraska that you shouldn’t miss out on exploring.
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