Kansas has few natural lakes, but it has a large number of artificial lakes or reservoirs that have been created by dam construction on rivers flowing through the state. All of the 10 largest lakes in Kansas are artificial lakes. They serve multiple purposes like flood control, the supply of water for irrigation and domestic use, fishing, recreation, etc.
The Largest Lakes In Kansas
1. Milford Lake
Milford Lake is the largest lake in Kansas. It is a man-made lake with an area of 64 square km. It has a maximum depth of 65 ft. Milford Lake was created by the construction of the Milford Dam on the Republican River in 1962. The lake serves multiple functions of water supply, flood control, navigation, and recreation. Visitors to Milford Lake can enjoy numerous outdoor activities like fishing, swimming, camping, boating, picnicking, etc.
2. Waconda Lake
Waconda Lake is the second biggest lake in Kansas. It is located in Mitchell and Osborne counties of the state and occupies 51 square km. Prior to the construction of the Glen Elder Dam that created the Waconda Lake, the site was occupied by a natural flowing artesian well called the Waconda Spring. The construction of the dam on the Smoky Hill River in 1964 drowned the spring in the reservoir and forces a health spa located along the spring to close down. The reservoir was created with the purpose of supplying waters for irrigation and flood control. Today, parts of the lakeshore habitat are protected. Hiking trails, swimming beaches, camping facilities, boat ramps, marina, etc., offer recreational activities to tourists in the Waconda Lake.
3. Tuttle Creek Lake
The Tuttle Creek Lake covers an area of 50 square km north of Manhattan in northeast Kansas. It is the third biggest lake in Kansas. The Tuttle Creek Lake was formed by the construction of the Tuttle Creek Dam on the Big Blue River for the purpose of flood control. The 4.9 square km Tuttle Creek State Park borders the lake and provides recreational opportunities like camping, nature trails, artificial beach, etc.
4. Perry Lake
Perry Lake is located in northeast Kansas where it covers an area of 44.52 square km. It was created by the construction of a dam on the Delaware River to control downstream flooding. The lake acts as a water reserve for nearby areas and is also used for regional recreation.
5. Cheney Reservoir
The Cheney Reservoir is the fifth largest lake in Kansas. It was created by the construction of the Cheney Dam and Reservoir on the North Fork Ninnescah River. The reservoir encompasses an area of 38.6 square km. Most of it lies in the state’s Reno County while small portions extend into Kingman and Sedgwick counties. It is used for both flood control and recreational purposes. The Cheney State Park is located along the shores of this reservoir. A variety of fish species like channel catfish, white bass, wiper, walleye, striped bass, etc., are found in the lake. Birds and animals like rabbits, wild turkeys, pheasants, doves, etc., also live in the habitat around the Cheney Reservoir.
Natural Lakes In Kansas
While all large lakes in Kansas are artificial reservoirs, the state also has a few natural lakes and wetland habitats like Lake Inman, Lake View Lake, and the Cheyenne Bottoms wetland area.