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17 of the Best Lakes in Alabama for a Perfect Vacation

By | Last Updated: 16th December 2022

Alabama features more than a hundred lakes, none being natural, created by constructing dams upon rivers. Most of these human-made water bodies have become popular vacation spots offering relaxation and recreational activities in abundance. From boating in the calm and sparkling waters to camping in the adjacent areas engulfed in scenic beauty, the lakes here are a perfect place for a fun-filled holiday.

Lakes in Alabama

Lakes in Northern Alabama

1. Guntersville Lake

Guntersville Lake Northern Alabama

Lake Guntersville is Alabama’s largest lake lying between the cities of Bridgeport and Guntersville. The shoreline stretches to about 120 kilometers, equipped with parks and resorts alongside a beach, picnic areas, swimming areas, and a boat dock. The 2400 hectare picturesque woodlands surrounding the adjacent areas make for a perfect hiking and biking spot. You would also be in for a treat, especially if you are a bird watcher, because bald eagles, gadwalls, and other birds inhabit the surrounding terrain.

Fishing: It popularizes in bass fishing. Other species dwelling here include bluegill, crappie, redear sunfish, longear sunfish, bream, and catfish. You need to have a fishing license.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, bird watching, camping

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2. Lewis Smith Lake

Lewis Smith Lake Northern Alabama

With a depth of 264 feet, Lewis Smith Lake is the deepest and one of the clearest lakes in Alabama. Located on the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River, it is also the cleanest lake in the state. It has a 500-mile long shoreline with trees planted on another side. This blissful river, along with natural scenery and several coves, makes it an ideal holiday destination. You can also enjoy camping any time of the year in Smith Lake Park, occupying the shores.

Fishing: Bass mainly inhabits the lake. Other varieties are bream, crappie, catfish, yellow bullhead, black bullhead. A freshwater fishing license is needed.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, jet-skiing, camping

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3. Wheeler Lake

Wheeler Lake Northern Alabama

The Wheeler Dam forms the Wheeler Lake, and it flows along the Tennessee River in North Alabama. Stretching about 50 miles, it is the state’s second-largest lake. You can also visit the parks nearby like Joe Wheeler State Park and Elks River Lodge State Park. For fishing, the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge area, in the lake’s upstream, is ideal.

Fishing: Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, pumpkinseed, sunfish, crappie are some of the significant fishes found here.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, cruising, camping

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4. Neely Henry Lake

Neely Henry Lake Northern Alabama

Created by the Neely Henry Dam on the Coosa River, the dam and the lake derive their name after Alabama Power’s senior executive.

The 540 km shoreline stretching across the lake, makes provisions for swimming, bird watching, and picnicking. You’ll also find several rental cabins and boats for hire.

Fishing: It offers excellent fishing opportunities for largemouth bass, spotted bass, sunfish, bluegill, crappie, catfish.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, bird watching

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5. Weiss Lake

Weiss Lake Northern Alabama

In Cherokee County of northeastern Alabama, Weiss Lake is formed by the Coosa River, Chattooga River, and Little River. A small part of the lake also flows to the neighboring state, Georgia. It has many hotels and marinas, making it a perfect place to spend your vacation. There are plenty of camping spots along the 440 miles expansive shoreline. You can also explore Cherokee County or spend your time in DeSoto State Park.

Fishing: Weiss Lake is home to various fishes like crappie, largemouth bass, striped bass, and catfish. If you intend for a good catch of bass, then February to May is the ideal time, while it is March till May for crappie.

Other Activities: Swimming, jet skiing, canoeing, camping, boating

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6. Wilson Lake

Wilson Lake in Northern Alabama

Created by the Wilson Dam, Wilson Lake flows in the city of Florence. You can enjoy many water activities here as the lake offers numerous marinas and launch facilities. In addition, there are plenty of harbors and camping provisions along the shore. It is a perfect place to spend your vacation with your family.         

Fishing: Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, catfish are good to catch here.  

Other Activities: Boating, canoeing, kayaking, jet skiing, camping

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Lakes in Eastern Alabama

1. Lake Martin

Lake Martin, one of America’s largest human-made lakes, has a 750 miles long wooded shoreline. It lies on the Tallapoosa River, housing more than 580 campsites. It is the focal point of several recreational activities, emerging as a sought-after vacation spot. While some believe that alligators exist here, it is yet to be confirmed.

Fishing: Some of the popular fishes include largemouth bass, striped bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill, redear sunfish.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, water-skiing

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2. Lay Lake

Lay Lake in Eastern Alabama

Lay Lake, with a shoreline of 289 miles, is the oldest lake on the Coosa River. It is located 15 miles south of Columbiana in east-central Alabama, famous for boating and fishing tournaments throughout the year. It has seven public access areas from where you can enjoy boating. You can also visit Heritage Trail Pioneer Village or spend some time in Beeswax Creek Park nearby.

Fishing: Crappie and largemouth bass, spotted bass, bream dwell here.

Other Activities: Boating, water skiing, kayaking, tubing

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3. Logan Martin Lake

Logan Martin Lake Eastern Alabama

Logan Martin Lake flows on the Coosa River in east-central Alabama. It has a 275-miles long shoreline and offers recreation in abundance. You will also a marina alongside two boat ramps stalled on the lake. The locals have nicknamed it as a “Lake of a Thousand Coves.”

Fishing: Largemouth bass, spotted bass, crappie are mainly available here.

Other Activities: Boating, skiing, swimming

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Lakes in Central Alabama

1. Lake Wedowee

Lake Wedowee Central Alabama

Lake Wedowee, a human-made lake, is located on the Tallapoosa River’s upper course. It covers 11,000 acres, also considered one of the finest lakes in Alabama due to its pristine waters. You can also visit the Cheaha Resort State Park if on the lookout for a hiking adventure. On your way, the smell of the gorgeous flowers adjacent to the Shiloh Covered Bridge would for sure take your breath away. For a plunge in the calm waters, swimming in the Flat Rock Park, on the lake’s western end would be apt.

Fishing: Fishes like largemouth bass, striped bass, spotted bass, crappie, channel catfish, flathead catfish thrive here.

Other Activities: Boating, swimming, camping, water skiing

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2. Jordan Lake

Jordan Lake in Central Alabama

 Jordan Lake is a beautiful lake in central Alabama that flows along the Coosa River. The purpose of building it was to control floods and to supply hydroelectricity. However, at present, it has become a famous recreational spot. You will find plenty of cottages, camping sites, cabins, and marinas along the 188 miles shoreline.

Fishing: The fertile lake is mainly home to largemouth bass, spotted bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, crappie, and catfish.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating

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3. Bankhead Lake

Bankhead Lake in Central Alabama

Bankhead Lake, a part of the Black Warrior River, developed in 1915 during the construction of the dam of the same name. The shoreline has an abundance of recreational activities, making it a popular place for tourists to enjoy their vacation. You can also avail the benefits of many rental properties and marinas as well as public boat launches. In addition, you’ll also find Mulberry Fork Wildlife Management Area nearby for hunting activity. However, a permit and hunting license is required.

Fishing: It is home to several types of fish, including spotted bass, hybrid striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, catfish, striped bass, crappie.

Other Activities: Water skiing, sailing, powerboating, sightseeing, jet skiing, camping

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Lakes in Southern Alabama

1. Walter F. George Lake

 Formed on the Chattahoochee River, Walter F. George Lake flows along the state line between Alabama and Georgia. It is commonly known as Lake Eufaula. The lake features 13 Corps of Engineers day-use parks and four campgrounds ideal for spending a perfect holiday. Also, the 640 miles long shoreline includes the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge and Lakepoint State Park, which offers several recreational activities.

Fishing: Largemouth bass, bream, crappie, hybrid bass, striped bass, and catfish are some types of fish found here.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, hiking, camping

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2. Lake Shelby

Lake Shelby is a splendid freshwater, housed in the Gulf State Park of southwestern Alabama. It covers an expanse of 900 acres and has two launch sites. It also offers several cabins and campsites for those who wish to stay longer. The Middle Lake and Little Lake join Lake Shelby to form a massive marshland home to many alligators, turtles, and other habitats.

Fishing: Largemouth bass, crappie, bream, redfish, and speckled trout are available here.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, paddling, water skiing, picnicking, kayaking

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3. Lake Harding

It is one of the deepest lakes in Alabama, with a depth of more than 100 feet. The Bartlett’s Ferry Dam forms the lake, which flows into both the states of Georgia and Alabama. The original reason for building it was for generating hydroelectric power. However, now it is used as a prominent recreational area, with locals having lake homes along the shoreline. Many islands surround Lake Harding, making it an ideal weekend getaway.

Fishing: The lake has several types of fish like largemouth bass, spotted bass, channel catfish, crappie, bluegill, sunfish.

Other Activities: Boating, swimming, nature-watching, skiing, canoeing

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Lakes in Western Alabama

1. Lake Tuscaloosa

Lake Tuscaloosa in west-central Alabama is human-made, created by damming the North River. It has a shoreline of 177 miles, with numerous parks, including the Binion Creek Landing Park and the Rock Quarry Park. It also offers private boat ramps and many private marinas. You can even go camping, hiking, mountain biking, or swimming in the Lake Lurleen State Park. If keeping memories of the scenic beauty of the lake is on your wish list, do capture it during sunset, as it decks up gorgeously then.

Fishing: The lake has wide varieties of fish like the spotted bass, largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, redear sunfish.

Other Activities: Boating, swimming

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2. Lake Lurleen

Lake Lurleen, a public lake in west-central Alabama, had been named after the first woman elected Governor of Alabama, Lurleen Wallace.  Set on the banks of the lake is the Lake Lurleen State Park, a picturesque spot featuring recreation in abundance. The park has about 23-miles long trail which runs along the lake’s shoreline. The difficulty level ranges from easy to moderate, and hikers and mountain bikers can access it. In addition, there are 91 modern campsites with various benefits, which make it a convenient place for campers. With a beautiful state park surrounding the lake, Lake Laurleen appears even more scenic and attractive.

Fishing: Largemouth bass, crappie, bream, catfish are some of the commonly found fishes here.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, camping, picnicking, hiking

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Best Lakes for Fishing: Guntersville Lake, Logan Martin Lake, Weiss Lake

Best Swimming Lakes: Lake Wedowee, Lewis Smith Lake, Lake Tuscaloosa

Best Lakes to Live On: Logan Martin Lake, Bankhead Lake, Lake Harding

Best Camping Lakes: Weiss Lake, Lake Lurleen, Lake Shelby

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