Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes. Alaska tops that with more than 3 million lakes. Lake Iliamna in Alaska is the third largest lake in the United States. Lake Michigan has the #1 spot on the list of biggest lakes in the United States. The other Great Lakes are each bigger than Iliamna. But, since these lakes are partly in Canada, they fail to make the list. The second largest lake in the United States is the Great Salt Lake in Utah at 1,700 square miles in area.
So how big is Iliamna? It is 1,150 square miles large or slightly smaller than the state of Rhode Island. This is large, but Lake Michigan is more than 22,000 square miles in area. You could fit nearly 20 Lake Iliamnas in Lake Michigan.
Glaciers formed many of the lakes in Alaska. Snow and rain draining off mountains form others. Melting permafrost can cause thaw lakes, but many of these are not permanent lakes. Wood-Tikchik State Park in western Alaska includes some of the most spectacular glacier-carved lakes in the state.
People from all over come to fish and float in Alaska's lakes. The lakes are a gateway to many areas that don't have roads or airports. Small planes with floats or skis can land on these lakes to bring people and supplies to areas that are difficult to reach in other ways.
- Iliamna, 1,150 square miles
- Becharof, 458 square miles
- Teshekpuk. 315 square miles
- Naknek, 242 square miles
- Tustemena, 117 square miles
Aerial view of the Wood-Tikchik Lakes