Oldest Lake is North America

North America’s is known for many things, but one of its most notable physical features are its lakes. This country is home to several lakes, many of which have a fascinating history! In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the oldest lakes in North America.

Let’s dive right in.

6 Oldest Lakes in North America

6. Lake Erie

Average age: Roughly 4,000 years
Location: Boundary between Canada and the United States
Type of lake: Glacial

Lake EriePhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Lake Erie is one of the oldest lakes in the world, and is also one of the largest Great Lakes. When compared to the other Great Lakes, Lake Erie is the smallest and shallowest lake out of the five. Since it is situated underneath Lake Huron, one of the main inlets for this lake is actually the Detroit River, while it outflows from Niagara River.

Much like most of the other lakes mentioned on our list, it was mostly indigenous people that lived in the areas surrounding Lake Erie, and along its shoreline. However, those people were later driven away due to colonization.

Did you know?

The deepest point of Lake Erie is 64m deep, making it the only Great Lake whose deepest spot is above sea level.

5. Lake Superior

Average age: Roughly 10,000 years
Location: Central North America
Type of lake: Glacial

Lake SuperiorPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Lake Superior is, in addition to being one of the world’s oldest lakes, is also one of the world’s largest! It contains around 10% of the earth’s total freshwater volume, and roughly straddles the border between North America and Canada.

It’s interesting to note that some of the first people to ever travel to Lake Superior were called the Plano. They were a group of hunter-gatherers, and typically spent much of their time hunting caribou used stone-tipped spears. It’s also worth noting that much of the area surrounding the lake was inhabited by indigenous people, specifically those belonging to the Anishinaabe tribe.

Did you know?

Lake Superior is home to more than 80 fish species.

4. Lake Lucero

Average age: Roughly 12,000 years
Location: Tularosa Basin, New Mexico
Type of lake: Playa

Lake LuceroPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Lake Lucero is another one of the oldest lakes in North America! It’s interesting to note that this lake is actually a playa, which means that it is filled with water during the wet season, and the water evaporates when the weather gets dry. However, this playa, in particular, is known for the large amounts of water that is deposited during its annual evaporation cycle.

It’s also worth noting that Lake Lucero is located in a portion of the National Park, which is in the Zone of Cooperative Use. This area is restricted for the U. S. military and its various security purposes.

Did you know?

Lake Lucero was named for Jose Lucero and Felipe Lucero. They were two brothers who owned a portion of land along the shores of this lake.

3. Lake Michigan

Average age: Roughly 15,000 years
Location: Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan
Type of lake: Glacial

Lake MichiganPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Lake Michigan is another one of the oldest and largest lakes in the world! It is one of the Great Lakes, and is known for its massive size and the fact that it is the only Great Lake that is located solely in North America.

It’s interesting to note that the first people to properly study and document their findings about Lake Michigan were the Hopewell people, who were Native Americans. Although their culture later declined, other groups of Native Americans continued to live in areas surrounding the lake, and continued to document the things that they found.

Did you know?

Lake Michigan plays an important role in shipping bulk goods across the United States.

2. Mono Lake

Average age: Roughly 760,000 years
Location: Mono County, California
Type of lake: Endorheic and Monomictic

Mono LakePhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Mono Lake is one of the most interesting places to visit in the United States. In addition to being one of the oldest lakes in the country, it is also a saline soda lake in an endorheic basin. This means that this lake has no outlet for drainage, and as a result, has accumulated high levels of salts. Its water is alkaline, making it unsuitable for consumption.

Although its water is so salty, this lakes ecosystem is thriving! It is known for its high numbers of brine shrimp, and sees around two million migratory birds that fly to the area and feed on said shrimp every year. This lake is also home to millions of alkali flies.

Did you know?

Mono Lake’s levels were lowered after the people of Los Angeles diverted water from the streams that flow into the lake. However, these lowered water levels caused the number of migratory birds to decrease. After the lake committee fought a legal battle against the city, the lake’s levels were replenished and restored to what it used to be.

1. Clear Lake

Average age: Roughly 0.5 million years
Location: Lake County, California
Type of lake: Eutrophic hypereutrophic

Clear LakePhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Clear Lake is known for being the oldest lake in North America! This lake has existed for around 0.5 million years and is also the largest freshwater lake in the state of California. It’s interesting to note that this lake sits on a bed of stone. As the lakebed tilts northwards, it also fills with sediment at the same time, which makes that its depth remains more or less consistent throughout its surface area.

Since this lake is quite big, with a shoreline longer than 100 miles, Clear Lake is a popular place among water sport enthusiasts, and they are commonly found in and around the lake throughout the year. Over 15,000 people go boating on this lake every year as well. In addition to water sports, this lake is a popular spot for people to go fishing on. You can find large quantities of largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, carp, and crappie.

Did you know?

Clear Lake was originally called Lupiyoma, Ka-ba-tin, and Hok-has-ha by the indigenous people who used to live in the area.


In this article, we took a closer look at some of the oldest lakes in North America. While researching this article, we didn’t realize that many of the lakes would be the Great Lakes, but after reading more about them, we felt silly about not realizing it sooner! We hope that you enjoyed reading this article, and that you learned something new from it today.

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