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17 Best Lakes in Indiana for An Ideal Getaway

By | Last Updated : 4th June 2021

Indiana is a land of diverse scenic beauty ranging from rolling green hills to expansive dunes. The gorgeous lakes mostly occupying the northern part, are indeed a few of the most picturesque gems the state has. Most of them are pristine glacial lakes offering an awe-inspiring view of the surroundings. On the other hand, the artificial lakes, mainly occupying the southern corner are majorly humanmade,, but as beautiful as their natural counterparts. If planning to visit here, do not miss being a part of the ‘Festival of the Lakes,’ a five-day event in the city of Hammond, held in July.

Lakes in Indiana

Lakes in Northern Indiana

1. Tippecanoe Lake

Tippecanoe Lake in Northern Indiana

An hour’s drive from Fort Wayne will bring you to this natural lake in north-central Indiana. With a depth of 123 feet, Tippecanoe Lake is the deepest glacial lake in the state. Many residential houses surround its shoreline, but you’ll also find ample parks for recreation. On the eastern side, an ecozone is to be set for protecting the Ball Wetlands to save the lives of native aquatic plants.

 The waters are clear, and the surroundings neat and beautiful, thanks to the residents who lovingly call it ‘Lake Tippy.’ You can keep yourself entertained in the swimming beach, marinas, resort, golf course, or the country club, all lined up in the lake’s shoreline. Then, to fill your hungry stomach, head straight to the Pie-Eyed Petey’s Marina and Restaurant, located on the southeastern fringe.

Fishing: Anglers can catch over 25 varieties, including largemouth bass, yellow perch, bluegill, crappie, redear, sunfish, and northern pike.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, scuba diving, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, camping

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2. Lake Maxinkuckee

Lake Maxinkuckee in Northern Indiana

This oblong-shaped glacial lake is the state’s second-largest. It provides an array of water activities for you to engage in. If you don’t feel like getting yourself wet, you can cycle or take a bike ride around the scenic lake. Spending the weekend here is made easy with numerous rental cabins and other accommodation facilities along the shoreline. You can enjoy golfing in the nearby golf course.

A visit during winters will give you the pleasure to witness the lake in its frozen state. Ice fishing is a sought-after activity then.

Fishing: You will have a great time fishing here as there are plenty of fish species, including smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, white bass, rock bass, trout, and yellow perch.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, scuba diving, water skiing, sailing, cycling, and biking

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3. Lake Wawasee

Lake Wawasee in Northern Indiana

Lake Wawasee, formerly known as Turkey Lake, is the largest among Indiana’s natural lakes. Located in northeast Indiana amidst rolling green hills, its pristine blue-green waters and surrounding picturesque beauty attract visitors instantly. Marinas and ramps dot the shoreline. You can also visit Lakeside Park and Henry Ward Park, which allow public access to the lake. An avid bird watcher can easily spot eagles, herons, and hawks frequenting the area.

For those who desire a tanned body, go sunbathing at the Sandbar. To get there, you need to take a short boat ride from the southern shore. So whether you’re planning for a weekend vacation with family or a retirement stay, this lake should be on your list.

Fishing: It is a paradise for anglers with about 28 fish species, including largemouth bass, bluegill, yellow bullhead catfish, redear sunfish, northern pike, yellow perch, and black crappie.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, sunbathing, water skiing, sailing, jet skiing

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4. Lake Shafer

Lake Shafer in Northern Indiana

Lake Shafer is one of the two reservoirs formed by the damming of the Tippecanoe River. Here, you will find an oasis of great recreational activities. Have fun in the thrilling rides of Indiana Beach Amusement Park, a vast park on its shores, or take a refreshing dip in its swimming beach. Besides these, you will also find the shoreline packed with marinas and boat ramps. For accommodations, you can choose from the wide variety of rental cottages, homes, and even campsites available there.

Though one can get there all year round, April and October are the most sought-after seasons.

Fishing: Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white bass, channel catfish, bluegill, and white crappie are inhabitants of the lake. Other Activities: Swimming, boating, water skiing, jet skiing, canoeing, camping

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5. Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan in Northern Indiana

With its shoreline stretching over 1640 miles, this majestic lake lies in northwest Indiana and extends to three other states. A hub of various recreational activities, visitors often get confused about where to start from and what to choose.

You will be amazed to see numerous parks sprinkled on the lake’s shore. Many of them feature large and unique dunes rising hundreds of feet above the lake surface.

In its southern shoreline, the Indiana Dunes National Park consists of many beaches with expansive dune formations. For those who wish to witness the ‘singing sands,’ this place is the perfect one to do so. Walk on them barefoot and hear the soft, white sand sing.

There are several great hiking trails apart from the dunes, wetlands, and prairies for trekking enthusiasts.  If you don’t wish to leave the lake at the end of the day, you will find several camping sites, and rental cabins around.

Fishing:  Several fishes, including brown trout, lake trout, salmon, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, perch, walleye, and smallmouth bass, populate the lake’s water.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, canoeing, sailing, hiking, biking, camping, nature gazing, birdwatching

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6. Lake James

Lake James in Northern Indiana

Lying in the northeast corner, Lake James is the fourth largest natural lake in Indiana. Pokagon State Park almost covers its entire shoreline and features an inn named Potawatomi Inn, a wooded campground, a Nature Center, swimming beaches alongside hiking and biking trails. There is also a sandbar here, famous among party-goers. If visiting in winter, you can enjoy ice fishing, ice skiing, and cross country skiing here. Children can also have fun on the toboggan slide.

Look out for the deer, sandhill crane, Canada geese, and mute swan frequently thronging the place.

Fishing: Fishers can enjoy catching largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, rock bass, yellow bullheads, yellow perch, and northern pike.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, water skiing, jet skiing, canoeing, kayaking, picnicking, camping, horseback riding, hiking, biking, wildlife watching

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7. Barbee Lake

Barbee Lake in Northern Indiana

Barbee Lake is a chain of seven natural lakes in northeast Indiana, formed by retreating glaciers of the Pleistocene era. Though many residential areas occupy its shoreline, you will still find ample recreational spots for a decent vacation.

If speed restriction on most lakes troubles you, you can undoubtedly opt for the Big Barbee Lake to enjoy water sports. However, the rest of the six lakes have a speed limit of 10 mph due to their small size.

Have fun spending the weekend in the lakefront campsite, enjoying the waters of Barbee Lake in close proximity. You can also opt for rental cabins, cottages, and hotels.

Fishing: Largemouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch, black crappie, channel catfish, and redear are in abundance.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, camping

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8. J. Edward Roush Lake

J. Edward Roush Lake in Northern Indiana

J. Edward Roush Lake, earlier known as Huntington Lake, is a reservoir in north-central Indiana. A boat ride in its serene waters would be a great idea to explore the surrounding scenic beauty.

Try spotting whitetail deer, rabbits, loons, gulls, and eagles while strolling along the lakeside. Different trails here will provide hikers and photographers the opportunity to capture the stunning views of the lake and surrounding woodlands from several angles.

End your day in peace and relaxation in the primitive campsite, sitting by the campfire and listening to the waves as they hit against the shore. However, if you are planning for other accommodation, you won’t find any here.

Fishing: Anglers can expect to catch several fish species such as largemouth bass, bluegill, smallmouth bass, rock bass, crappie, channel catfish, and redear sunfish.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, water skiing, kayaking, canoeing, picnicking, camping, hunting, wildlife viewing, nature gazing

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9. Salamonie Lake

Salamonie Lake in Northern Indiana

Salamonie Lake is a massive reservoir stretching to the counties of Huntington and Wabash in northeastern Indiana. The untouched beauty of the place is what attracts visitors to it. Its vast shoreline offers a myriad of activities, both in and around the lake.

If you have a love for wildlife watching, then this is the right place for you. Visit the interpretative center to see some local wildlife or hike a trail to catch a sight of some. Birdwatchers need not be disappointed as you can spot eagles, hawks, and several other bird species.

Fishing: Though the lake is famous for crappie, many other fish species are residing here. Largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish, smallmouth bass, white bass, redear, and walleye are some of those.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, camping, hiking, picnicking, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, hunting, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing

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10. Witmer Lake

Witmer Lake in Northern Indiana

 This natural lake is one among the Indian chain of five lakes, located in LaGrange County. If spending a quiet time by a lakeside is on your list, you need to visit here. You’ll find an island with a sandbar, ideal for relaxing or taking a refreshing dip in the clear waters. When hungry, head to the nearby Coody Brown’s Lakeside Grill.

 Remember to bring your boats as no boat rentals are available here for those who want to have fun rides in the lake.

Fishing: Anglers can have a great time fishing for bluegill, largemouth bass, channel catfish, northern pike, and white crappie.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing

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Lakes in Southern Indiana

1. Patoka Lake

Patoka Lake in Southern Indiana

Patoka Lake, the state’s second-largest reservoir, expands into three counties, Orange, Crawford, and Dubois. Tucked away within the Hoosier National Forest, this hidden gem has so much to offer.

Grab your cameras to click pictures of awe-inspiring forested hills and limestone bluffs circling the lake. The dazzling scenery of the fall foliage and its tranquil waters together create an enchanting atmosphere. Migratory birds also frequent the place. No wonder people also refer to it as the ‘Jewel of Southern Indiana.’

Carry your camping essentials to spend the night at one of the 500 campsites, relishing the place’s natural beauty. Of course, your dogs too can join you but remember to keep them on leash.

Fishing: Anglers will relish catching a wide variety of fish, including walleye, bluegill, longear sunfish, redear sunfish, catfish, largemouth bass, and striped bass.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, water skiing, wakeboarding, hiking, biking, horseback riding, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, picnicking, and wildlife viewing.

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2. Monroe Lake

Monroe Lake in Southern Indiana

The largest lake flowing within the state, Monroe Lake, has a surface area of over 10,750 acres. Located less than 10 miles from Bloomington, this is one of the most picturesque water bodies since the Charles C. Dream Wilderness surrounds it.

Bring your boat or hire one from any rental locations and head to explore the sprawling body of water. Carry your picnic baskets and spread your blanket for a lakeside picnic, or roll over the sand and go for a swim in any one of the three beaches. If you wish to extend your stay here, there are many accommodation facilities to suit your taste.

Fishing: Bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass, hybrid striped bass, catfish, walleye, yellow perch, and panfish dwell here.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, picnicking, hiking, horseback riding, camping, birdwatching

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3. Lake Lemon

Lake Lemon in Southern Indiana

Located a few miles from Bloomington, Lake Lemon is Indiana’s eleventh largest. Part of it is privately owned by the residential, and partly by the Riddle Point Park, allowing public access.

Summer is the best time to witness colorful wildflowers blooming in the native prairies of the lakeside. A tour along the scenic trails will allow you to explore the lake’s breathtaking surroundings and spectacular views.

There is plenty to view for wildlife enthusiasts as you will be able to see herons, turtles, bald eagles, beavers, muskrats, and many more.

Spend a lazy afternoon on the beach admiring the lake’s setting or enjoy picnicking with your family at the shelter house.

Fishing: Largemouth bass, crappie, flathead catfish, bluegill, and channel catfish dwell in abundance in the lake.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, tubing, water skiing, sailing, sunbathing, hiking, wildlife viewing, nature gazing, camping

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4. Griffy Lake

Griffy Lake in Southern Indiana

Griffy Lake is just a few minutes away from downtown Bloomington, providing a unique experience of its picturesque vista and calm waters.

Swimming is not permissible, but you can still enjoy other water activities. Rent a boat from the boathouse on the lake’s northeastern shore and enjoy the serene atmosphere. A paradise for hikers, you can explore several trails that meander through ridges and ravines surrounding the lake. In addition, the Griffy Lake Nature Preserve surrounding the lake is an abode for nature lovers, with flora and fauna scattered throughout the place.

If not hiking, take a walk around the lake to soak in the charms of the place. Let your dogs accompany you, but don’t forget to leash them.

Fishing: Plenty of largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, channel fish are available here.

Other Activities: Boating, paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking, sunbathing, picnicking, hiking, nature gazing

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5. Brookville Lake

Brookville Lake in Southern Indiana

A popular tourist spot, Brookville Lake lies amidst the Whitewater River Valley of southeast Indiana. Besides being picturesque, it also is historically significant in the state. You can still spot traces of 450-year-old fossils.

Avid bird watchers ought to bring along their binoculars to spot the mallards, coots, goldeneye, canvasback, Canada geese, sandhill cranes, herons, osprey, red hill hawks, and bald head eagles populating the lake region.

Spend a relaxing time at any one of the two beaches. In addition, hikers too can have a busy day exploring the trails around. Do not worry about the staying place as there are ample campsites and rental cabins.

Fishing: Anglers can enjoy catching bountiful of fish including walleye, muskie, striped bass, largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, crappie, rock bass, white bass, redear sunfish, catfish.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, paddleboating, canoeing, water skiing, hiking, picnicking, camping, birdwatching, wildlife viewing, hunting

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Lakes in Western Indiana

1. Cagles Mill Lake

Cagles Mill Lake in Western Indiana

Also known as Cataract Lake, this lake sits on the borders of Putnam and Owen counties in west-central Indiana. The Lieber State Recreation Area partly occupies the lake, while the Cataract Falls State Recreation owns the other part.

Since it lies in a forested area, the place is teeming with wildlife. In addition, the sight of the majestic Cataract Falls on the lake is sure to take your breath away. Hike up the trail to capture the fantastic view of the lake and the waterfall. Also, look out for the bald eagles flying overhead or perching on their nest somewhere nearby.

Picnicking with your family in the activity center would be ideal, which also features play areas for kids.

Fishing: The lake has an excellent stock of walleye, striped bass, white bass, crappie, largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, and catfish.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, tubing, camping, hiking, horseback riding, birdwatching, wildlife viewing

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Lakes in Central Indiana

1. Mississinewa Lake

Mississinewa Lake in Central Indiana

Mississinewa Lake is a dam impounded by the Mississinewa River in Miami County. Nature enthusiasts and wildlife watchers have a great time gazing at the unspoiled beauty of the lake teeming with wildlife. In addition, you will find several recreational areas along its shoreline. The Frances Slocum State Recreational Area, located in its northwestern end, has several interpretive trails, boat ramps, picnic spots, along with 9000 acres of wilderness. If you desire to camp here, then you could do so in the 400 campsites found here. You can even stay in the numerous cabins and cottages in the adjacent regions.

Don’t miss visiting the Cliffs of the Seven Pillars that lie along the south side of the Mississinewa River.

Fishing: The lake is a dwelling of numerous fish species such as walleye, white crappie, black crappie, bluegill, largemouth and smallmouth bass, white bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, sunbathing, canoeing, kayaking, water skiing, picnicking, camping, hunting, wildlife watching

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Best Lakes for Fishing: Tippecanoe Lake, Patoka Lake, Lake Monroe

Best Lakes for Boating: Lake Lemon, Griffy Lake, J. Edward Roush Lake

Best Lakes for Swimming: Lake James, Patoka Lake, Barbee Lake

Cleanest Lakes: Tippecanoe Lake, Lake James, Lake Michigan

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