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Best Lakes in Alabama: A Guide to Unforgettable Destinations

Alabama, known for its picturesque landscapes and rich history, is also home to some of the most beautiful lakes in the United States. These lakes not only offer breathtaking views but also provide endless recreational activities, making them perfect destinations for both tourists and locals alike. From avid fishing enthusiasts to those seeking a quiet and peaceful retreat, these lakes have something for everyone.

Lake Guntersville

Surrounded by lush greenery and rolling hills, these top lakes in Alabama offer a variety of outdoor activities, including fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, and bird watching. With excellent facilities and amenities, visitors can fully immerse themselves in nature and take advantage of the surrounding landscape. Additionally, the lakes often serve as the backdrop for various events, such as fishing tournaments and regional celebrations.

Key Takeaways

  • Alabama’s stunning lakes offer an array of recreational activities and breathtaking scenery.
  • Top lakes provide excellent fishing opportunities, outdoor adventures, and well-maintained facilities.
  • Visitors can participate in regional events and tournaments while enjoying the beauty of Alabama’s lakes.

Top Alabama Lakes

Lake Guntersville

Lake Guntersville is Alabama’s largest lake, situated between the cities of Guntersville and Bridgeport. With its 121-kilometer shoreline, the lake offers numerous recreational activities such as swimming, fishing, boating, and skiing. Its pristine waters make it a perfect destination for water enthusiasts of all ages.

Weiss Lake

Located on the Coosa River, Weiss Lake is known as the “Crappie Capital of the World”. This picturesque lake boasts excellent fishing opportunities, making it a popular spot for anglers. The lake’s 30,200 acres offer plenty of space for boating, kayaking, and other water-based activities.

Lewis Smith Lake

Lewis Smith Lake, often referred to as Smith Lake, is situated in the northwest Alabamian counties of Cullman, Walker, and Winston. This deep, clear lake features over 500 miles of shoreline and abundant recreational opportunities, including wakeboarding, fishing, and hiking.

Lake Martin

Nestled in the central Alabama area, Lake Martin spans across 41,150 acres and 880 miles of shoreline. This beautiful lake is famous for its upscale homes, stunning islands, and impressive fishing spots. Lake Martin is an ideal destination for bass fishing and water skiing.

Wheeler Lake

As the second-largest lake in Alabama, Wheeler Lake provides a variety of recreational activities such as boating, fishing, and water sports. Located along the Tennessee River, this lake is home to numerous fish species like largemouth bass, catfish, and striper, making it a favorite destination for anglers.

Logan Martin Lake

Found along the Coosa River, Logan Martin Lake spans 15,263 acres and 275 miles of shoreline. The lake’s impressive landscape and abundant water-inspired activities make it an appealing destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with fishing, boating, and camping options available.

Lake Wedowee

Also known as R.L. Harris Reservoir, Lake Wedowee offers an array of water-based adventures, including fishing, boating, and jet skiing. Surrounded by pristine forests, the lake’s natural resources make it a magnificent escape for nature lovers seeking peace and relaxation.

Fishing Opportunities

Bass Fishing

Alabama is home to some of the best bass fishing lakes in the Southeast. Lake Guntersville and Lake Eufaula are two of the top 10 bass fishing lakes in the region, known for their abundant largemouth and spotted bass population. Lake Guntersville ranks at number five and Lake Eufaula at number nine1. North Sauty Creek, located in Lake Guntersville near Scottsboro, is an excellent spot with miles of forested shoreline and undercut banks providing suitable cover for bass2.

Lake Eufaula, also known as Walter F. George Lake, spans over 45,000 acres and is nicknamed the “Bass Fishing Capital of the World”3. This lake is located on the Chattahoochee River between Alabama and Georgia, making it an easily accessible destination for bass fishing enthusiasts.

Crappie Fishing

Lake Guntersville also offers excellent opportunities for crappie fishing. This lake is home to a variety of fish species, including striped bass and crappie, providing a productive fishing experience. As a renowned bass and crappie fishing destination, Lake Guntersville hosts numerous fishing tournaments throughout the year, attracting anglers from all over the country.

Catfish Fishing

For those interested in catfish fishing, the Coosa River in Alabama offers an incredibly rich and diverse ecosystem. Lay Lake and Lake Mitchell, located along the Coosa River, are the prime spots for catfish angling4. Lay Lake is a 12,000-acre reservoir fed by the tailwaters of the Logan Martin Dam4. The abundance of mussels, crawfish, fish, birds, and snails in the Coosa River creates an ideal feeding environment for all fish species, including catfish.

Outdoor Activities

When visiting Alabama’s lakes, there are a wide variety of outdoor activities to enjoy. From boating and water sports to hiking and birdwatching, there’s something for everyone.

Boating and Water Sports

Guntersville Lake, Alabama’s largest lake, offers an array of water sports and activities. Boating enthusiasts can enjoy the scenic shoreline by renting a pontoon, kayak, or canoe. For those who love adventure, try water skiing or wakeboarding. Alternatively, take a leisurely swim in the refreshing waters at one of the many designated swimming areas.

Hiking and Biking

Exploring Alabama’s lakeside nature trails offer hikers and bikers a chance to immerse themselves in stunning landscapes. Lake Martin, for example, is surrounded by wooded shoreline, providing ample opportunities for trailblazing. Take a stroll in the Huntsville Botanical Garden, part of the Alabama Mountain Lakes region, featuring over 100 acres of gardens, trails, and picturesque scenery.

Camping and Cabins

Experience the great outdoors by staying overnight at one of Alabama’s lakeside campgrounds or cabins. Lake Guntersville State Park has 6,000 acres of woodland and offers several lodging options, including chalets, cottages, and campsites. Set up camp, roast marshmallows by the fire, and wake up to breathtaking views of the Tennessee River.

Birdwatching and Wildlife

Alabama’s lakes are home to diverse wildlife and bird species, making them ideal for birdwatching and wildlife observation. The wooded shoreline around Lake Martin is a perfect place to spot native birds and other animals. Similarly, the various parks and nature reserves surrounding Guntersville Lake provide ample opportunities for sighting local fauna. Pack a pair of binoculars and a camera, and take in the beauty of Alabama’s lakeside ecosystems.

Facilities and Amenities

Parks and Campgrounds

In the northern part of Alabama, Guntersville Lake offers a variety of parks and campgrounds along its 121-kilometer shoreline. Lake Martin, one of America’s largest man-made lakes, located in and around Alexander City, is surrounded by wooded shoreline, making it a great place for camping and spotting native wildlife. Wheeler Lake, the second-largest lake in Alabama, offers numerous camping options for visitors. Lake Lurleen State Park, situated near Tuscaloosa, provides beautiful campgrounds and picnic areas alongside its 250-acre lake.

Marinas and Boat Launches

Several lakes in Alabama boast exceptional facilities for boating enthusiasts, such as marinas and boat launches. Guntersville Lake, covering 69,000 acres, hosts numerous marinas, making it an ideal destination for boating and skiing activities. Likewise, Wheeler Lake and Weiss Lake, situated in Northeastern Alabama, provide well-maintained marinas and boat launches.

Beaches and Picnic Areas

Many Alabama lakes offer great beaches and picnic spots for visitors to enjoy. At Lake Martin, visitors can take advantage of the pristine waters and numerous beaches surrounding the 44,000-acre lake. Wheeler Lake offers biking trails and picnic areas that allow family members to take part in fun outdoor activities. Finally, Lake Lurleen State Park has tranquil beaches, where visitors can swim or relax, and scenic picnic areas perfect for family outings.

Regional Highlights

Northern Alabama Lakes

Northern Alabama is home to some of the most beautiful and cleanest lakes in the state, providing numerous recreational opportunities for visitors. Located along the Tennessee River, Guntersville Lake is the largest lake in Alabama, covering 69,000 acres. This popular spot offers activities such as swimming, fishing, boating, and skiing. Another highlight in this region is Wilson Lake in the northwest area. With its close proximity to Rogersville and Huntsville, it provides a perfect weekend getaway with boating, fishing, and swimming activities.

Central Alabama Lakes

In the heart of the state, Central Alabama boasts several fantastic lakes for locals and tourists alike to enjoy. Lewis Smith Lake, also known as Smith Lake, is situated on the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River. This 21,000-acre gem, spanning across Cullman, Walker, and Winston counties, is renowned for being one of the cleanest and clearest lakes in Alabama, perfect for swimming and other water activities. Another noteworthy lake in this region is Lake Lurleen, located near Tuscaloosa. This scenic lake is part of the Lake Lurleen State Park and offers opportunities for fishing, boating, and swimming.

Eastern Alabama Lakes

The eastern region of Alabama bordering Georgia is blessed with several gorgeous lakes and rivers, providing ample opportunities for water enthusiasts to indulge in various water sports and activities. The Chattahoochee River serves as the border between Alabama and Georgia, offering fantastic fishing spots and breathtaking scenery. Near the picturesque Tallapoosa River, you can find Lake Martin, an impressive 44,000-acre reservoir with more than 750 miles of shoreline, ideal for boating, fishing, and swimming. The smaller but equally beautiful Lake Wedowee in Randolph County offers a peaceful retreat for those looking to relax, fish, or enjoy leisure boating.

Power Companies and Reservoirs

Alabama Power Company

Alabama Power Company is one of the state’s largest water managers and plays a significant role in the creation and maintenance of reservoirs and man-made lakes in Alabama. The company owns 11 lakes and operates 14 hydroelectric plants that produce clean, emission-free electricity. Among their various reservoirs, some notable ones include Lake Martin, Neely Henry Lake, and Bankhead Reservoir.

Lake Martin, formed by constructing the Martin Dam on the Tallapoosa River, spans 44,000 acres and is known for its excellent fishing opportunities. Bankhead Reservoir, on the other hand, was impounded in 1915 and is best known for catches of largemouth bass and spotted bass.

Tennessee Valley Authority

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is another key player responsible for managing reservoirs in Alabama. Their efforts contribute to the establishment of popular recreational lakes such as Walter F. George Lake (also known as Lake Eufaula), Pickwick Lake, and Bridgeport Reservoir.

Walter F. George Lake, a 45,000-acre reservoir located on the Chattahoochee River, is a prime destination for fishing, boating, and other water-related activities. Pickwick Lake, situated on the Tennessee River, is known for its excellent catfish and bass fishing, while Bridgeport Reservoir, along Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River, is frequented for canoeing and kayaking.

In addition to the aforementioned reservoirs, Alabama also boasts other picturesque and recreational man-made lakes, such as Lake Tuscaloosa on the North River and Lake Purdy near Birmingham. These water bodies offer a variety of leisure activities, including fishing, camping, and wakeboarding.

Alabama’s reservoirs, managed by both the Alabama Power Company and the Tennessee Valley Authority, significantly contribute to the state’s diverse recreational and ecological landscape, while also generating clean energy for its residents.

Fishing Tournaments and Events

Alabama is a prime fishing destination, attracting anglers from near and far to participate in numerous tournaments and events. The state is home to a variety of pristine waterways, including lakes such as Jordan Lake and rivers that flow through the picturesque wilderness of northeastern Alabama.

Fishing tournaments are a popular draw in the region, with events such as the Alabama Bass Trail Tournament Series taking place throughout the year. The series relies on the diverse nature of Alabama’s waterways, giving participants the opportunity to showcase their skills across various lakes and rivers.

Guntersville State Park, nestled in the mountains of northeastern Alabama, provides a stunning backdrop for fishing tournaments. The park offers an abundance of outdoor activities for visitors, including biking, water skiing, and hiking. Additionally, visitors can choose from a range of accommodation options, such as cabins and campgrounds, to make their stay even more enjoyable.

Another outstanding fishing location in Alabama is Lakepoint State Park. Serving as a gateway to one of the state’s top bass fishing lakes, the marina at Lakepoint hosts numerous fishing tournaments throughout the year. The park also offers a variety of recreational activities, ranging from water skiing to hiking, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Lake Jordan is a hidden gem among Alabama’s waterways and offers a tranquil setting for fishing events. Surrounded by wooded areas and rolling hills, Lake Jordan is an increasingly popular location for fishing tournaments. The serene environment is perfect for anglers looking to escape from the hustle and bustle and connect with nature.

Wheeler Dam, located near Gadsden, is another popular fishing spot that attracts anglers due to its abundant fish population and picturesque setting. The dam serves as an ideal location for hosting fishing events, with the surrounding area offering plenty of opportunities for visitors to explore Alabama’s natural beauty.


  1. Alabama Home To Three of The 25 Best Bass Lakes In The Southeast.

  2. 20 Best Bass Fishing Lakes in Alabama.

  3. 13 Of The Best Fishing Lakes In Alabama – Only In Your State.

  4. 13 Best Catfish Fishing Lakes and Rivers in Alabama. 2