Best Lakes in Nevada

The best lakes in Nevada are certainly a subjective opinion. You may have your specific criteria for what you believe makes the best lake. Or have you thought of such a list?

Maybe you just know one when you are there, and realize - Yes, this is it!

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Many Nevada lakes are organized to give their citizens places for happy times close to home. Others are organized so that there are parks adjacent for favorite lakeside activities.

Both of those types are the kind we tend to think of as the best. Some are favorites because of fishing or boating opportunities. Let's look into this a bit more!

rowboat on the lakeshore which can take you out onto the lake for some fun.

What are the Best Nevada Lakes?

lake with the glare of the sun, and huge desert mountains along the back shoreThere Are Lots of Nevada Lakes to Visit!
Gotta Get Going!!

For now, we'll mostly concentrate on the best lakes in Nevada that meet these standards:

  • Those easily accessed for weekend activities near the town or city where you live, or where you're planning to visit.
  • Those that are nice to go to, that have pleasant surroundings.
  • Those that have the leisure pursuits there, that you enjoy. Enjoyable things to do for your own self, and maybe the family, too.

Although we know some people really like to get away from it all, to find those hidden lakes seldom visited. And that's their version of the best. Do you like those?

How about visiting Nevada lakes in the State Parks?

Or large Recreation Area Choices>

Maybe you're really just out to hook trout or bass. Looking for some of the best lakes in Nevada For Fishing>

Are you interested in National Parks?

Because there actually are plenty of Nevada Lakes & Reservoirs! Yes, there are plenty to go around.

Note: Fees at state facilities for Nevada residents are lower than for out-of-staters.2 But quite reasonable for all. If we quote state fees, they're for Nevada residents, so if out of state, check 'em!

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Now, let's find some of these best lakes in Nevada. Got plenty below!

Best Lakes in Nevada State Parks

ECHO CANYON RESERVOIR - Southeast of the historic, small hillside town of Pioche. We loved our trip here to Echo Canyon State Park. We plan to return!

While there, listen for Eagle cries echoing through the canyon,1 as they "eagle-eye" for fish. Hauntingly exotic amongst these colorful cliffs! Trout fishing for you, too!

More details:

  • Non-reservable 20 electric/water sites & 13 non-utility. Dump Station & showers.
  • Day Use for all lake & lakeside activities, entry $5/vehicle
  • Nice hiking trail is the 2-1/2 mile Ash Canyon trail. Loops from the upper campground to the entrance road at Echo Canyon State Park for returning.

CAVE LAKE6 - One of the best lakes near Ely Nevada because of the summer and winter action.

Swim, camp and boat in the summer. Snowmobile, snow-sled, ice-skate and ski in the winter. Fishing year-round!

Two campgrounds (closed in extreme cold): one overlooking Cave Lake, one overlooking Steptoe Creek. None reservable.

Contact Cave Lake State Park at

sign showing a driver is now entering Cave Lake State park and the driver must be legally licensed.

LAKE TAHOE - So many love this pristine lake, and it's certainly one of the best lakes in Nevada. Big enough, with lots of nooks & crannies, so there's plenty of room for all!

And the state put their own park right on its shores! Then residents and visitors can have a visit to beautiful Lake Tahoe less than half-hour from Carson City.

Cave Rock State Park6 has a beach at the south section where you can swim.  

Even bring snorkel gear for a better look underneath those lake waves. The rocky, steepness of the waters from the  lakeshore make for excellent views. For more info: 775-588-7975.

Relax On a Picnic: Three gorgeous park areas to choose. Day use only, sunrise to sunset.

Launch Your Watercraft - (or rental - available in park) in the park's North section. Great fishing, too!

Directions: From Carson City, take Business Hwy.395/S.Carson St. South a bit over 2-1/2 miles. Make right on Hwy.50. After 15 miles, take right into Park.

Best Lakes in Nevada State Recreation Areas

LAKE LAHONTAN - Named for the ancient lake,3 it's off Hwy. 50, east of Silver Springs, not far west of Fallon. 

Lahontan State Recreation Area provides many lakeside activities like camping, boating, fishing & swimming.1

Quoting Reader's Digest, that it's "an improbable oasis in a land that averages less than six inches of rain per year..."1

Lahontan State Park is on the eastern end.

So you can see there's much offered on this huge reservoir.3

  • Hunting (specific areas) & fishing (catch/release) per Nevada State regulations
  • Multiple campgrounds and beaches along 69 miles of shoreline. On-beach primitive camping allowed except near boat ramps or in Day Use Areas. 
  • Dump stations available at Park entrances. 
  • Oct.-May is off-season when showers & flush-toilets close.

SOUTH FORK RESERVOIR6 - You'll enjoy the wildlife sightings here on this immense lake. That's just one reason why it's among the best lakes in Nevada. Why else? 

The South Fork State Recreation Area has developed (hook-ups) & primitive (shoreside!) camping, with available dump station & rest-room with showers. Plus lots more to do.

Picnicking nearly anywhere + tables spots.

Fishing (be sure to know the regs), two boat ramps, water sports like tubing, & a variety of trails.

  • About 17 miles South of Elko. 775-744-4346.
  • DIRECTIONS: Head out of Elko on 227E, right turn on 228S. After 12 miles driving, watch for right onto Rt.715/S.Fork Rd. Another 5+ miles to Park.

Go Fishing in Nevada Lakes

An activity favored by many is a nice day of fishing. Even though men are often captivated by this sport, remember - many women go fishing, too! It can be a family activity.

Let's see some of the best lakes in Nevada for fishing.

COMINS LAKE4 - One of the Lakes Near Ely Nevada, that Nevada's Department of Wildlife has worked to improve.

Waters from Steptoe & Cave Creeks percolate in, making this lake. Formed when Hwy.93 was improved in 1953, creating an impoundment dam. Sometimes Willow Creek's waters flow enough to contribute. Generally it has 410 surface acres.

  • The lake's problem was an abundance of trout & bass predators: Northern Pike. The Wildlife Dept. began managing the situation, tagging pike, encouraging catch. 
  • Then stocked Largemouth Bass, with regular spring/autumn trout stocking: rainbows & browns. 
  • Ice fishing also, 10-15 inches thick when ready.
  • Seven miles South of Ely, on Hwy.50/6/93. Right turn as approaching lake. Day use only, basic boat ramp & rest rooms.

A Fishing Experience:

See More About Cave Lake Above Under the State Parks Heading!

ADAMS-McGILL RESERVOIR4 - Within the Kirch Wildlife Management area. Up to 785 surface acres, it goes to 10' deep.

Largemouth bass & Trout Fishing pretty good here. Stocked with rainbows in the spring.

Surrounded by wetland waterfowl area, so the main problem is finding good shore access. When you do, you'll have lots of choice catches!

But best via watercraft. Plus there's another adjacent lake nearby: Dacey Reservoir.

  • Access Convenient Camping at Dave Deacon Campground (formerly Hot Creek). Free via Wildlife Management. Pick one of 25 sites with tables/firepit/grill. Amenities: vault toilets, water, dump station.5
  • It is a drive. Advantage or drawback, your choice! Be sure to have your supplies, none on-site. 
  • Directions: From the small town of Lund, take Hwy.318-S about 31 miles, turn right on Dave Deacon Camp Rd. a little over 7 miles more.

DAVIS CREEK POND5 - Visit Davis Creek Regional Park in Washoe County to fish this natural 2-1/2 surface acre, gorgeous lake.

Popular for Fly-Fishing, as well as bait-cast. Stocked with rainbow trout. Camping on-site & day-use picnic areas.

Be there and you'll see how it's one of the best lakes in Nevada. And not only for fishing!

Directions: About midway between Reno & Carson City.

Take I-580/395 Exit 16 to Alt.395/Bowers Mansion Rd. Turn into Davis Creek Camp Grd Rd.

Nevada National Park Lakes

lake-mead in Nevada

LAKE MEAD NATIONAL RECREATION AREA - If you're in the Las Vegas area, either a resident or vacationer - you'll know you have to get to this must-see: Lake Mead, plus see Hoover Dam.

When you arrive, you may be taken aback about it's low water levels, but there are still lake activities there for you.

GREAT BASIN NATIONAL PARK - In the Great Basin Desert, which gets <10" of rain/year. Yet there is some water to see! Even fishing areas. Within the park there are a number of small lakes. They're all pristine, from glacial origins, sourced from springs and/or snow melt. They are:7

Baker Lake - Between Baker & Pyramid Peaks, it sources Baker Creek. Probably the largest of the park's lakes. Covering about 2 surface acres. Brook & Lahontan Cutthroat Trout were introduced into Baker Lake at one time. You  could try for them with a NV fishing license..

Baker Creek - From Baker NV, take Lehman Caves Rd. West. After park entrance & crossing Lehman Creek, take Baker Creed Rd. (Open May-Oct.):

  • To Grey Cliffs Campground. Make left turn to Pole Canyon Trailhead parking area. Begin the trail to find the creek. Fishing for brown & brook trout.
  • Or continue on to Baker Creek Campground. A few trails here have creek access. 
  • Best is Baker Creek Trailhead, with parking. Fish upstream for brook trout.
Baker Creek upper flows in Nevada

NOT INTO CAMPING? If you really want to visit, but not up for tenting or boondocking - you have a few accommodations nearby these lakes in Great Basin National Park. One place that's quirky & economical has all you need to make it a multi-activity vacation. With a casino, restaurant/bar, fuel & more. Booking Info Here>

Most Convenient to Lake Trails

Stay right in the Town of Baker!

Great Value, too.

More Comfort Than Camping Here!

And close to

Great Basin National Park

Stella Lake - It's located near Wheeler Peak. Glacial erosion carved out a bowl, in which the lake sits. Its waters are primarily from snow melt, a small amount from rain. But in hot summers, it experiences quite a bit of evaporation. Take the Bristlecone Trail.

Stella Lake below Wheeler Peak

Teresa Lake - Its water is sourced from a spring, along with snowmelt. Also formed from glacial carving, it's near Wheeler Peak.

Lehman Creek - The Bristlecone/Alpine Lakes Trailhead has several options. Follow to the lake, get along the creek, see Brown Lake below the trail on the way to Wheeler Peak Bristlecone Pine Grove. Or directly take the Trail to Teresa Lake.

  • The trailhead has a good parking lot. Get there from 488/Lehman Caves Rd., right onto Wheeler Peak Scenic Dr. Only open July-Oct. past picnicking & campground.
Lehman Creek

Brown Lake - In a glacial boulder field, its depth is only about 20 feet maximum. See it on the trail to Wheeler Peak Bristlecone Pine Grove.

Dead Lake - Found as an upstream source of Snake Creek waters. It's geographically formed as a dead-end to a glacial moraine area. Gathers fill from snow & some rain precipitation. But waters subject to evaporative situations.

Mapping Snake Creek and Dead Lake area of NevadaLocating Dead Lake in Great Basin National Park

Johnson Lake - Sourced from a spring, with added snowmelt & some minimal rainfall. It's uphill from Snake Creek, & downhill from Pyramid Peak. One of the most alpine lake types in the park.

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See References For Best Lakes in Nevada>

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