31 Best Lakes In Louisiana (Swimming & Boating Fun In 2023)

Are you looking for the best lakes in Louisiana to visit with your family?

Fishing for bass and catfish is a popular pastime in this state, but which lakes are the best for other activities like swimming and boating?

Louisiana is known for great city life and having lots of different activities to take part in to help you immerse yourself in Louisiana culture.

But what about outside the city?

There are a lot of beautiful lakes hidden deep in Louisiana for you to visit, whether natural or man-made. All of them are perfect for a relaxing getaway to escape the noise of the city.

There, you will find that Louisiana has a lot of scenic nature to offer through its unique landscape, especially the iconic Atchafalaya Basin. It is absolutely teeming with wildlife.

But with so many lakes in Louisiana, where should you head to if you like to canoe, swim, or birdwatch?

I’ve made your job easier by compiling a guide to the best lakes in Louisiana so that you can start planning your next trip and see the true beauty of the state.

So grab your hiking boots and get on over to Louisiana!

best lakes in louisiana

My top picks for Best Lakes In Louisiana :

Best Lakes For Swimming:

  • Lake Bruin, Lake Claiborne, Vernon Lake

Best Lakes for Boating:

  • False River, Cane River Lake, Lake D’Arbonne

Best Lakes for Fishing:

  • Toledo Bend Reservoir, Caney Lake, Lake D’Arbonne

Best Lakes for Wildlife:

  • Caddo Lake, Lake Martin, Catahoula Lake


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31 Best Lakes In Louisiana

1. False River, Pointe Coupee Parish

Located northwest of Baton Rouge, False River dates back to the 1700s and is 17 kilometers long.

The lake is U-shaped and has a constantly developing shoreline that makes it an extremely big attraction in Louisiana.

The lake is west of the Mississippi River and is popular for boating and water skiing.

Along the shoreline, there are restaurants, hotels, and camps for visitors to enjoy and shops within walking distance.

You can enjoy homely amenities while experiencing the true essence of Louisiana nature.

Sit down, relax, and enjoy the view while sitting on this Coleman Camping Chair with a built-in 4-can cooler.

best lakes in louisiana

lake martin st martin Parish best lakes in louisiana

2. Lake Martin, St. Martin Parish

East of Lafayette is Lake Martin, a protected area that is full of wildlife and swampland to explore.

Lake Martin is home to bullfrogs, herons, and alligators, and if you are lucky, you will be able to do some wildlife spotting during your visit. It is one of the major swamplands in the state.

You are able to explore the lake by kayaking as this will allow you to experience the swampland firsthand and at a closer view.

There is also the opportunity to explore the area by cycling or hiking through the trails around the lake.

Want to go kayaking but just don’t have the space? This Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak makes it all possible!

best lakes in louisiana

3. Prien Lake, Calcasieu Parish

South of Lake Charles is Prien Lake, a popular fishing lake in Louisiana. There are flounder, speckled trout, and redfish all found in Prien Lake, which makes it a popular fishing destination.

Prien Lake is connected to the Calcasieu Ship Channel and has the Lake Charles Country Club at the southern end of the lake.

There are two parks in Prien Lake picnic areas so that you can enjoy your lunch with a view of the lake, and there is also parking available so you can easily access the lake.

LaFleur Park has a beach where you are able to go swimming which is right next to Prien Lake.

Be it yourself or with your family, it’s always handy to take a Telescopic Fishing Reel with you to catch a quick meal.

best lakes in louisiana

4. Lake Bruin, Tensas Parish

Lake Bruin is known for its clear water which makes it a very popular swimming spot throughout the summer months.

You are also able to explore the lake by either kayaking or canoeing, as there are 1,200 hectares to discover.

Most of the land around the lake is privately owned, but there is the rest of the Lake Bruin State Park to explore.

There are three piers on the lake that can be used for fishing or for a view further out into the lake without being on a boat.

There are also 25 campsites surrounding the lake to stay the night and lots of picnic tables to enjoy the view when eating.

5. Caddo Lake, Caddo Parish

Found in northwest Louisiana, Caddo Lake has the largest Cypress forest in the world, which it shares with Texas as the lake is right on the Texas border.

The lake is also home to a bayou and around 10,200 hectares to explore. The lake is said to have been formed by earthquakes around the year 1811.

Caddo Lake is a wetland that is protected due to it being home to a wide variety of wildlife.

At Caddo Lake, you are able to see alligators, eagles, and owls, as well as over 70 species of fish. It is an incredible spot for wildlife lovers to see lots of different species.

Ccalcasieu lake cameron parish best lakes in louisiana

6. Calcasieu Lake, Cameron Parish

Southwest of Louisiana is Calcasieu Lake, a lake that is 19,900 hectares and drains into the Gulf of Mexico.

Calcasieu Lake is popular for fishing as it is known for being home to spotted sea trout and red drum. Flounder, white shrimp, and brown shrimp are also known for being spotted in Calcasieu Lake.

The lake is also home to an albino bottlenose dolphin called Pinky, which was spotted swimming in the lake in 2007.

The lake is home to a lot of wildlife, which you can spot either on land or by hiring a boat.

Slap up a quick picnic meal with friends and family using this easy-to-set-up, portable propane/butane camping stove.

best lakes in louisiana

7. Lake D’Arbonne, Union Parish

If you’re looking for lakes in North Louisiana, there is one not far from Farmerville. Lake D’Arbonne is a man-made lake that is popular for fishing and canoeing.

Created in 1963, Lake D’Arbonne State Park is south of State Highway 2, so is easily accessible and has a large range of wildlife that you are able to see during your visit to the lake.

The Lake D’Arbonne State Park has 58 campsites and 16 cabins, so you can visit for a vacation and enjoy being surrounded by nature.

There are also various hiking and cycling trails so you can further explore the park.

best lakes in louisiana

8. Toledo Bend Reservoir, Sabine & DeSoto Parishes

Toledo Bend Reservoir is the largest man-made body of water in the South and the fifth largest in surface acres in the United States.

If you’re an outdoor lover and looking for swimming lakes near la, head here for an array of attractions.

It hosts many large fishing tournaments throughout the year because of the excellent fishing opportunities for bass, catfish, and crappie.

The surrounding North and South Toledo Bend State Parks also offer campsites, hiking and biking trails, swimming, and boating.

If you’re interested in hiking around Louisiana, visit these six best trails.

9. Lake Pontchartrain, St. Tammany, Orleans, Jefferson, St. John the Baptist, St. Charles & Tangipahoa Parishes

Lake Pontchartrain is the largest of the lakes in Louisiana at 630 square miles. It is actually an estuary that connects to the Gulf of Mexico.

Because of that, you can see a variety of wildlife, including alligators, pelicans, and dolphins.

Boating, fishing, and swimming are also popular attractions for locals and visitors.

Don’t forget to visit the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, which is the world’s longest continuous bridge over water. It takes 50 minutes to cross!

10. Cross Lake, Caddo Parish

Cross Lake is one of the man-made Louisiana lakes and is located near Shreveport, Louisiana.

You will find the scenic banks lined with beautiful moss-covered cypress trees, making it a great destination for fishing and boating.

The lake is also home to wildlife like alligators and many species of birds.

11. Lake Claiborne, Claiborne Parish

If you’re looking for ‘lakes near me’ in Homer, Louisiana, look no further than the beautiful man-made lake, Lake Claiborne.

It is a popular location for bass fishing and boating and one of the best lakes in Louisiana for swimming.

The surrounding Lake Claiborne State Park also offers camping, hiking, and biking trails where you can enjoy the scenic view.

12. Lac des Allemands, Lafourche, St. Charles & St. John the Baptist Parishes

Lac des Allemands, or Lake of the Germans, is a shallow, natural lake at Des Allemands, Louisiana.

Also called the Catfish Capital of the Universe, the community of Des Allemands hosts the Louisiana Catfish Festival every year.

You will be spoiled for choice here with activities like fishing, boating, and camping.

Take time to appreciate the diverse wildlife making their homes on the cypress tree-lined shores, including otters, alligators, and bald eagles.

13. Lake Maurepas, Livingston, St. John the Baptist & Tangipahoa Parishes

Lake Maurepas is a naturally formed lake that is the second largest to be completely seated in Louisiana.

Fishing and boating are very popular activities on this calm and serene lake.

You can also spot bald eagles, ospreys, and other birds around the lake, so be sure to bring along a pair of binoculars on your trip here.

14. Lake Bistineau, Webster Parish

Lake Bistineau was created by a log jam on the Red River, which the government then dammed. It is known for being lined with old cypress trees draped in Spanish moss.

The surrounding Lake Bistineau State Park offers spacious campsites so you can stay and enjoy the scenic hiking trails or go boating and fishing.

And if you’re looking for ‘lakes near me to swim’, then head on over to this lake.

15. Caney Lakes Recreation Area, Webster Parish

Located north of Minden, Caney Lakes is made up of Upper and Lower Caney Lake.

It is part of the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana, making it a haven for nature lovers.

It’s one of the good swimming lakes in Louisiana, but you can also go boating, fishing, hiking, or camping near the lake.

16. Cane River Lake, Natchitoches Parish

Cane River Lake is one of the oxbow lakes Louisiana and is formed from the Red River.

It is a popular location for swimming, skiing, fishing, and boating.

Take a stroll down the Cane River National Heritage Trail Scenic Byway, which was the filming location for the movie “Steel Magnolias” and be sure to pay a visit to the Melrose Plantation, which is a National Historic Landmark.

17. Lake St. John, Concordia Parish

Lake St. John is another oxbow lake in Louisiana formed from the Mississippi River.

You can say you went to Louisiana swimming, boating, or birdwatching here. It is also a great place to go fishing, and you can find a variety of fish, including bass, catfish, and bream.

18. Lake Verret, Assumption Parish

Lake Verret lies in the heart of Louisiana and is part of the Atchafalaya River Basin, the largest floodplain swamp in North America.

If you’re looking for ‘lake near me to swim,’ this lake offers serene waters that are also ideal for boating and fishing.

Campsites are also available nearby if you would like to spend the night in nature. Don’t forget to check out these five other great campsites in Louisiana.

best lakes in louisiana

19. Black Lake, Natchitoches Parish

You can find Black Lake in the area west of Highway 9. It is shallower than the area below the bridge, known as Clear Lake.

It is one of the best lake in Louisiana for fishing crappie and bream, but in colder weather, head on over to Clear Lake if you want to score a catch.

The cypress trees lining the shore make for a scenic view while boating.

20. Vernon Lake, Vernon Parish

Vernon Lake is a reservoir that offers a variety of recreational water activities. In fact, it’s one of the best places to swim in Louisiana.

You can go for a wide range of boating at this lake Louisiana, from canoes to powerboats, because of the deep and open waters available.

There are also fishing opportunities for bass, catfish, and bream, but take note that there have been mercury advisories issued in 1997, 2003, and 2009.

21. Kepler Lake, Bienville Parish

If you’re looking for a quiet and peaceful time outdoors with ‘swimming lakes near me,’ Kepler Lake is a great place that offers fishing and boating, too.

You can also spend the night camping on the grounds of Kepler Park, where you can go hiking along the Matanuska Greenbelt Trail.

22. Catahoula Lake, LaSalle & Rapides Parishes

Catahoula Lake is the largest natural freshwater lakes of Louisiana.

It is known as the largest wetlands area in North America and is well-known to birdwatching enthusiasts as it supports a variety of waterfowl, including ducks, geese, and wading birds.

You can also go fishing and hiking. This shallow lake is one of the best lakes to swim in.

23. Lake Borgne, St. Bernard Parish

Lake Borgne is a saltwater lagoon of the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. It used to be a lake, but coastal erosion over the years has turned it into open water.

The mixture of brackish and saltwater makes this lake an ideal fishing spot for fish like trout, bass, and reds.

24. Valentine Lake, Rapides Parish

Valentine Lake is perfect for those looking for a peaceful and quiet getaway.

It is located deep within the Kisatchie National Forest, so you can camp on the grounds and go fishing and boating.

You can also enjoy a hike in nature and spot a variety of wildlife along the Valentine Lake Trail.

25. Anacoco Lake, Vernon Parish

Anacoco Lake is a serene reservoir in the heart of Louisiana that offers fishing, boating, camping, and one of the best lake for swimming.

You can find a diverse range of fish species here, including crappie, sunfish, and largemouth bass.

26. Lake Palourde, St. Mary Parish

Lake Palourde is one of three bodies of water that make up the Atchafalaya Basin.

It is filled with diverse wildlife and makes for the perfect spot for birdwatching. You will also be able to spot alligators and black squirrels here.

Enjoy fishing and boating on this lake, and try to spot a porpoise if you’re lucky.

27. Lake Salvador, Jefferson, Lafourche, & St. Charles Parishes

Lake Salvador is perfect for those who love fishing and boating.

It is a shallow lake that is home to a big population of catfish, bass, and speckled trout.

28. Lake Cataouatche, St. Charles & Jefferson Parishes

Lake Cataouatche is connected to Lake Salvador by the Bayou Couba and Bayou Bordeaux in Louisiana.

It is a popular location for bass fishing, but you can also find bluegills.

There is boat access to this lake from the Bayou Segnette State Park, where you can also go camping and hiking. It is one of the places to swim in Louisiana.

29. Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish

Lake Charles is located on the Calcasieu River in Louisiana that is popular for fishing, boating, and swimming.

Enjoy the white sands of North Beach, which is located along the lake, when you go swimming in this Louisiana lake.

30. Lake Iatt, Grant Parish

If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway and a ‘lake near me’ in Grant Parish, visit Lake Iatt for a wonderful fishing and boating experience.

The lake is well-known for its bass, crappie, and bream fishing.

You can also enjoy the scenic lake from Iatt Lake Observation Pier and observe the many species of migratory birds that live there.

31. Lake Fausse Pointe, Iberia & St. Martin Parishes

Although it is one natural body of water, Lake Fausse Pointe was named as two separate lakes, Lake Fausse Pointe and Lake Dauterive.

It is found within the Lake Fausse Pointe State Park, where you can go fishing, boating, camping, and hiking.

best lakes in louisiana

FAQ On Best Lakes In Louisiana

What Is The Clearest Lake In Louisiana?

The clearest lake in Louisiana is Lake Claiborne. It is a reservoir located in a rural area near Homer within the Lake Claiborne State Park. When full, it has a surface area of 6,400 acres and an average depth of 16 feet. The lake is a popular destination for bass fishing, boating, and swimming. 

Is It Safe To Swim In Lakes In Louisiana?

It is generally safe to swim in lakes in Louisiana, but there are some risks you should know of. Always swim in designated swimming areas. You can also check with the local health department for the water quality of the lake before swimming. Be on the lookout, as there are no lakes without alligators.

Is There Clear Water In Louisiana?

Yes, there is clear water in Louisiana. Some of the cleanest and clearest lakes there include Lake Claiborne, Lake Bruin, and Lake Bistineau. However, not all lakes in Louisiana are clear because of pollution. It is a good idea to check the fishing consumption and swimming advisories before swimming in any lake. 

What Are The Three Major Lakes In Louisiana?

The three major lakes in Louisiana are Lake Pontchartrain, Toledo Bend Reservoir, and Caddo Lake. Lake Pontchartrain is the largest lake in Louisiana, with a surface area of over 400,000 acres. Toledo Bend Reservoir is less than half the size, at over 180,000 acres. Caddo Lake is the third largest, at over 26,000 acres. 

How Many Lakes Are In Louisiana?

There are 81 lakes in Louisiana. The largest lake is Lake Pontchartrain, which is also the second-largest inland saltwater body in the United States. Other notable lakes include Caddo Lake, Lake Claiborne, Toledo Bend Reservoir, and Lake Bruin. These lakes offer a range of recreational activities, from fishing and boating to swimming and birdwatching. 

How Deep Is Lake Pontchartrain?

Lake Pontchartrain has an average depth of 10-16 feet. It is actually an estuary located in southeastern Louisiana and is connected to the Gulf of Mexico. It is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and swimming. Even though it is relatively shallow, it boasts a wide variety of wildlife, including alligators, pelicans, and dolphins. 

What Lake In Louisiana Has The Most Alligators?

Black Lake in Louisiana has some of the most alligators in the state, followed by Cross Lake and Lake St. Joseph. It is a 7,000-acre lake located in Natchitoches Parish and has its water flowing in from Black Lake Bayou. You can report nuisance alligators to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries.

What States Have The Safest Lakes?

The states with the safest lakes in the United States include New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Montana. These states have clean water and low pollution levels. You can find these beautiful lakes at:

  • Newfound Lake, New Hampshire, is surrounded by forest.
  • Deer Lake, Minnesota, is fed by spring water.
  • Flathead Lake, Montana, is surrounded by mountains.

Does Louisiana Have Good Beaches?

Yes, Louisiana does have good beaches. Here are some of the beaches you can visit:

  1. Grand Isle
  2. Holly Beach
  3. North Beach
  4. Rutherford Beach
  5. Fontainebleau State Park
  6. Cypremort Point Beach
  7. White Sands Lake Day Beach
  8. Jimmie Davis State Park
  9. Bogue Chitto State Park
  10. Port Fourchon
  11. Lake Claiborne State Park

Final Thoughts on Best Lakes in Louisiana

To conclude, Louisiana is full of beautiful lakes for you to visit and explore during a day trip or vacation.

There are lots of activities to do at the lakes, such as kayaking, swimming, and fishing, that can entertain the whole family during a vacation.

The wide range of wildlife at the lakes is perfect for children to spot during your visit.

It is also perfect for keen wildlife lovers who want to see different wildlife, as you are able to see everything from alligators to eagles to dolphins if you are lucky!

Finally, the lakes in Louisiana are the perfect place to relax and explore. You can explore the true essence of Louisiana and immerse yourself in the Louisiana countryside!

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