What Are The Iowa Great Lakes?

Sunset over Spirit Lake, Iowa's largest natural lake.
Sunset over Spirit Lake, Iowa's largest natural lake.

Iowa is located in the Midwestern region of the United States. The state hosts several lakes that are commonly referred to as the Iowa Great Lakes. The Iowa Great Lakes is a group of nine natural lakes that occupy a significant space in the state. Big Spirit Lake, West Okoboji Lake, and East Okoboji Lake are the principal lakes of this grouping. Other lakes that are included as the Iowa Great Lakes include Little Spirit Lake, Lake Minnesota, Silver Lake, Lower Gar Lake, and Center Lake.

Big Spirit Lake

Big Spirit Lake is one of the most famous lakes in this region. The lake is located to the northern city of Spirit Lake covering a total area of 5,684 acres. This makes the lake Iowa’s fourth largest lake and the largest natural lake. Despite being the largest natural lake, it has a relatively small shoreline due to its circular shape. The lake has an approximate depth of 17 feet. The lake is mostly used for fishing, and thus it plays a role in the economy of the state of Iowa.

Little Spirit Lake

Little Spirit Lake runs through Minnesota and Iowa covering an approximate area of 15,707 kilometers with a coastline of about 10.1 miles. The lake has an approximate depth of around 6 feet; this allows fishing although in controlled amounts.

West Okoboji Lake

The West Okoboji Lake is in west of the city of Okoboji and to the northwest of Arnolds Park. The lake also forms a chain with other five connecting lakes apart from being one of the Iowa Great Lakes. This lake covers an area of about 15.57 square kilometers and has a depth of 136 feet; this makes it Iowa deepest lake. It is also the second largest Lake of the Iowa Great Lakes after Spirit Lake. Due to its huge depth, the lake is suitable for boat riding, sailing, and swimming.

East Okoboji Lake

The East Okoboji Lake is located in Dickinson County which is the northwest of the state of Iowa. The lake covers an approximate area of 7.43 square kilometers. The lake is relatively shallow, and thus no much activity takes place. With a depth of only seven meters, it is prone to stratification during the summer months. The East Okoboji Lake is crucial in this area as it is famous for fishing of bullheads.

Upper Gar Lake

Upper Gar Lake is the smallest of all the Great Iowa Lakes. This lake is shallow with a depth of only 3.5 feet. Despite this, the lake offers various amenities such as boat access, a picnic area, and a hard surface boat ramp.


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