Missouri is a place of unexpected beauty: rolling hills, gorgeous sunsets, rugged mountains, thousands of caves, and a wide selection of scenic lakes. In total, there are about 568 lakes in the Show-Me State, from small backyard ponds to massive lakes tens of thousands of acres in size. We thought there’d be no better way to showcase the best lakes to our readers than by asking Missourians themselves to recommend their favorites by taking a poll on our
Only In Missouri Facebook page. We then narrowed the selections down to this list of the 12 most beautiful lakes in Missouri, as selected by you, our readers!
1. Table Rock Lake
This beautiful man-made lake is found in southwest Missouri near Branson. Table Rock Lake is well-loved for its great fishing, boating activities, water sports such as water skiing and wake surfing, and more. For the full experience, stay at one of the many lakeside lodges or vacation rentals. This way, you can spend several days taking in all the sights and attractions Table Rock Lake has to offer.
2. Peabody Lake
Visitors to Finger Lakes State Park may be unaware that you can experience this park from the water! You can rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard, and then head out onto the Peabody Lake water trail for a full day of relaxation on the water. It’s hard to imagine a more peaceful way to spend an afternoon.
3. Pomme de Terre Lake
Pomme de Terre Lake offers a peaceful departure from the endless demands of daily life. Located about 50 miles north of Springfield, the crystal-clear waters and pristine shorelines of Pomme de Terre Lake are just a few reasons why this lake is dubbed the ‘Gem of the Ozarks’. Boating, fishing, hiking, and camping are just a few of the lake’s most popular recreational activities.
4. Mark Twain Lake
Found in north-central Missouri within the Salt River Hills is the alluring Mark Twain Lake. Popular for boating, fishing, and hiking with over six miles of hiking trails that take you among the bluffs, the views of this lake and its abundant wildlife will not disappoint. Don’t miss out on watching the Milky Way glisten above the clear water at night.
5. Truman Lake
Among the most popular lakes in Missouri is Truman Lake. At 55,600 acres in size, it’s also the biggest man-made lake in the state. Popular for boating, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, camping, and more, Truman Lake also happens to offer incredible views of approaching storms – but hopefully not while you’re on the lake!
6. Lake of the Ozarks
One of the most beloved lakes in Missouri is the breathtaking Lake of the Ozarks. This second-biggest manmade lake in the state offers endless opportunities for recreation such as boating, fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, tons of hiking trails, and more. There are plenty of lodging options, live events offered frequently, and even yoga and spa services. It’s safe to say that this lake has it all!
7. Lunatto Lake
Offering a stark contrast to the size and popularity of Lake of the Ozarks is the serene and quiet Lunatto Lake. Nestled within the Meramec Valley Campground, this little lake still offers some great fishing, non-motorized boating, and the peace and quiet you may be searching for. If you’re lucky, you might witness a spectacular sunset reflecting off the still waters.
8. Smithville Lake
About 20 miles from downtown Kansas City lies the roughly 7,200-acre Smithville Lake. This is a very popular lake for boating, and with its 175 miles of shoreline and seemingly endless waters, it’s easy to see why. Swimming, camping, hiking, golfing, and horseback riding are additional recreational activities enjoyed by visitors on or around the lake.
9. Bull Shoals Lake
Within the Ozark Mountains on southern Missouri’s border with Arkansas lies Bull Shoals Lake. The lake straddles the border between the two states and is massive in size at 94,000 acres. Bull Shoals Lake is a popular year-round fishing hole with many private, picturesque coves. Aside from offering world-renowned bass fishing, visitors enjoy boating, swimming, and even cave tours of the incredible Bull Shoals Caverns.
10. Rothwell Lake
In the quiet town of Moberly, you’ll find the charming Rothwell Lake. Spoiler alert: this lake will steal your heart. While you can enjoy most typical water recreation here, what makes this lake truly special is the way the surrounding foliage bursts into color during autumn. Soak in the vibrant colors of seasonal change while walking along one of the beautiful trails that meander around the lake.
11. Lake St. Louis
Lake St. Louis is a private, 600-acre lake located in east-central Missouri. If you’re lucky enough to live in this charming community or know someone who does, this lake offers stunning views and great recreation. There is also a nearby golf course, clubhouse, tennis courts, and pool for residents and visitors accompanied by residents of this secluded but lovely community.
12. Clearwater Lake
In southeastern Missouri near the little town of Piedmont lies Clearwater Lake. This beloved lake is a sought-after vacation spot due to its gorgeous surrounding scenery. It’s also popular for boating, fishing, camping, exploration of its natural springs, and frequent wildlife sightings. It also offers incredibly dark skies for stargazing on a clear night.
Have you visited any of these lakes that made our list of the most beautiful lakes in Missouri? Did we leave any off the list that should be included? Please let us know in the comments!