The Science Behind Clear and Murky Lakes

Lake Tahoe clear lake
Photo courtesy of Visit the USA.

Like snowflakes, no lake is exactly like another one. They come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and locations. But perhaps the most striking quality of a lake—one of the first things you notice about any body of water—is its color. Lakes can come in all many colors, from the clear blue waters of Lake Tahoe to the murkier opacity of many lakes in the Northeast. To be clear, no pun intended, no single color is better than the other, and every lake has its unique benefits. But why is there such a range in color among lakes across the United States?

Continue reading “The Science Behind Clear and Murky Lakes”

States with the Most and Fewest Lakes

Reflection Lake, Alaska, is living up to its name.

Chances are, you’ve probably spent a fair amount of time in and around a lake. After all, these large bodies of water are ubiquitous; everyone’s at least seen a lake before, and there are lakes to be found everywhere in the United States— right? Not quite. Let’s learn more about the U.S. states with the fewest and most natural lakes.

States with the Fewest Lakes

Believe it or not, there’s one state without a single naturally occurring body of water large enough to be classified as a lake —  Maryland. Though the Old Line State boasts thousands of ponds, its only lakes are man-made, including Lake Habeeb in Allegany County and Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County (Maryland’s largest inland body of water).

Deep Creek Lake, Maryland
Deep Creek Lake is Maryland’s largest inland body of water. Photo courtesy of Maryland Office of Tourism.

That isn’t to say there were never any natural lakes in Maryland. There is documented evidence that a body of water now known as Buckel’s Bog existed in Maryland during the late Pleistocene Epoch, but it has since dried up. One cause for the lack of lakes in Maryland is the fact that glaciers never passed through the region; 74% of all lakes originated as pools gouged out by glaciers, but in Maryland, they were never given the chance.

Maryland isn’t the only low-scoring state when it comes to natural lakes. Its neighbor, Delaware, features only one natural lake— the serenely brackish Silver Lake in Milford. Similar to Maryland, Delaware was an area of relatively low glacial action during the Ice Age.

Like Delaware, Texas has only one natural lake, Caddo Lake. And Caddo isn’t even entirely Texan—it occupies the border between Texas and Louisiana. Unlike the glacial lakes mentioned above, Caddo was formed after a natural logjam called the Great Raft dammed the Red River. A few lakes were created as a result of the Raft, which includes Caddo, Cross, Wallace, Bistineau, and Black Bayou lakes.

States with the Most Lakes

The states with the most lakes in America are the states that featured the most active glacial movement, so it’s no surprise that they’re all located in the northern United States. 

You might think that the big winner is Minnesota—after all, it is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”—but you’d be mistaken. In fact, Alaska is the state with the most lakes, with an estimated 3 million, although most of them don’t have names. Alaska’s size is also a considerable advantage; though it has the most lakes from a numerical standpoint, it may not boast the most lakes per capita.

Lake Superior, Minnesota lake
Lake Superior is Minnesota’s largest lake. Photo courtesy of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

The state with the most named lakes is undoubtedly Minnesota, which boasts 11,842 lakes greater than 10 acres in size (the state’s grand total is 15,291). In total, Minnesota has about 2.6 million acres of lakes.

Close at Minnesota’s heels is Wisconsin, which has 15,074 lakes, spread over about 1 million acres of space. (Only 6,044 are named.)

Whether in a state with lots of lakes or almost none, Lake Homes Realty has you covered for top-of-the-line lake home properties. Lake Homes has thousands of properties for sale in Minnesota and Wisconsin. (Alaska is still in the works). And even though there’s not a single natural lake in Maryland, Lake Homes features over a hundred properties in the state—all located near beautiful man-made bodies of water.

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Paradise in the North: A Look at Rangeley Lake, ME

Rangeley Lake during autumn wide angle shot

Nestled within the Western Maine Mountains and surrounded by a ring of evergreen trees, Rangeley Lake epitomizes the natural beauty of northern New England.

Rangeley Lake, a sprawling 6,400-acre freshwater lake, is one of the major headwaters of the Androscoggin River watershed. It takes its name from Squire James Rangeley, Jr., an Englishman who established one of the earliest settlements in the area in 1825. Squire Rangeley’s legacy looms large in the history of the region; the nearby town of Rangeley is named after him, as is the main river that flows out of Rangeley Lake.

Aerial shot of Rangeley Lake

With a population of just over 1,000 people, Rangeley may come across as a sleepy town. However, when warm weather comes around, vacationers and residents come in from all over the Northeast to wile away the days in their summer homes. In the past, some travelers have come to Rangeley in the winter for access to nearby ski resorts such as Saddleback Maine. 

With a strong local community and plenty of reasons to visit, Rangeley Lake is sure to remain one of Maine’s premier lake-living locations for years to come.

The History of Rangeley Lake

Before white settlers established the town of Rangeley, Rangeley Lake was home to five different Native American tribes, most prominently the Abenaki. In 1796, the region was forever changed when four American men—including James Rangeley, Sr., the father of Squire Rangeley—purchased a large tract of land that included Rangeley Lake and the surrounding area. Over the next few decades, settlers gradually trickled into Maine from the lower colonies, forging homesteads out of the forested land near the lake and surviving off of Rangeley’s bountiful fish and wild game.

Height of Land monument history of Rangeley Lake
Photo courtesy of Maine Tourism.

In 1825, Squire Rangeley loaded a wagon with his family’s belongings and established the town that would later take his surname. Supported by a burgeoning lumber industry, the population of Rangeley continued to grow over the following decades—and as the town gained prominence, it began to develop a reputation as a prime fishing destination. By the 1860s, Rangeley Lake had become a common vacation spot for American fishermen, kickstarting its reputation as a paradise of the North.

Rangeley Lakes closeup view

Many locals consider the late 1920s and 1930s to be the “Golden Age” of Rangeley. In the years leading up to the second World War, affluent visitors from across the Northeast would flock to the lake to take advantage of its high-quality hotels and natural beauty. 

After World War II, Rangeley transformed once again, eschewing its ritzy hotels in favor of a more relaxed style of tourism centered on the town’s established reputation as a vacation spot. The fancy hotels are long gone; instead, loyal seasonal residents come year after year to summer in their lakeside vacation homes. Generations of Rangeley Lake families have passed their homes down through years; for many, Rangeley is just as much of a home as their primary residences down south.

Features of Rangeley Lake

The natural splendor of Rangeley Lake is its greatest strength, but for residents who have had their fill of verdant beauty, the lake offers a number of additional amenities.

Rangeley Lake House postcard
Antique postcard of Rangeley Lake House, postmarked July 7, 1908.

The legacy of Rangeley’s Golden Age lives on in the form of the Rangeley Lake Resort. The resort is a cluster of log cabins located on the former golf course of the Rangeley Lake House, once Rangeley’s classiest hotel. The resort features a clubhouse with hot tubs and a heated pool, canoe rentals, a network of snowmobile trails, and ample opportunities for scenic hiking.

Mingo Springs golf course Rangeley Lake during fall autumn
Photo courtesy of The Maine Golf Trail.

On the shore of Rangeley Lake, visitors might stumble upon Mingo Springs Golf Course, a high-quality course that has been owned and managed by the same local family for over four decades. Though the local Saddleback Maine ski area has been closed since the 2014–2015 season, plans are underway to reopen the mountain for 2020, and the renowned skiing and golfing at Sugarloaf Mountain is only a 45-minute drive away.

For nature lovers, a number of companies offer cruises and kayaking on the lake, and the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust has mapped and documented miles of birding trails throughout the area. 

And on rainy days, visitors can drive down to the Rangeley Lakeside Theater for a selection of seasonal live performances and film screenings.

Rangeley Lake Real Estate

Rangeley Lake real estate is one of the premier markets for lake homes in the state of Maine. At any given time, there are around 130 lots and homes for sale on the lake. Rangeley Lake homes can sell for between $89,000 and $1.5 million, with a total market value of over $36 million. 

A small town with a cosmopolitan history, Rangeley is a fantastic location for both full-time and seasonal lake living. 

Visit our website HERE to learn more about Rangeley Lake.

Top 5 American Lakes with the Highest Elevation

Colorado lake mountain view
Photo courtesy of All Trails.

The United States is chock-full of lakes at all elevations, including a number located far above sea level. The title of the highest lake in America is up for debate. It ultimately comes down to a dispute over the precise definition of “lake,” and whether designation from the United States Geological Survey is necessary to grant legitimacy to a lake. There’s even a website dedicated to the question. No matter the definition, the U.S. has some amazing elevated lakes in beautiful regions of the country. 

Lake Muriel, Washington

mirror reflection of muriel lake during winter
Photo courtesy of Mapio.

The most elevated claimant to the title is Lake Muriel, an underground lake formed by meltwater within the summit crater of Mount Rainier in Washington state. According to some sources, this small lake is only a seasonal feature of the Mount Rainier crater. But at 14,100 feet above sea level, it’s certainly the highest body of water in America that has been home to a boat (in this case, a rubber raft carried to the summit of Mount Rainier by a National Geographic Society expedition). Due to its small size, many people do not consider Lake Muriel as an actual lake.

Unfortunately for Muriel, this lake’s name is simply a local moniker, not an official designation provided by the USGS.

1. Pacific Tarn, Colorado

Pacific Tarn, Colorado Lake
Photo courtesy of Colorado Ascents.

As far as officially-named lakes are concerned, the highest lake in America is Pacific Tarn, a small pond that sits at an elevation of 13,420 feet above sea level atop the eastern ridge of Pacific Peak in Colorado’s Tenmile Range. The lake was officially named in 2004, thanks to the efforts of Carl Drews, a Coloradoan amateur naturalist who first visited Pacific Tarn in 1993. On his website, Drews estimates that the area of Pacific Tarn is about five acres—enough to support a very fine lake home, though a construction project in the rarefied air of the high Rockies might present a challenge.

2. Winchell Lakes, Colorado

Winchell Lakes Blanca Peak
Photo courtesy of 14ers.

The second-highest lake in America is the uppermost of the three Winchell Lakes, a trio located on the east face of Blanca Peak in southern Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo mountain range. At 13,100 feet above sea level, this 2.3-acre lake is not to be confused with Winchell Lake, a much larger—and lower—body of water located in Cook County, Minnesota.

3. Lake Waiau, Hawaii

Lake Waiau view of milky way during night Big Island Mauna Kea
Photo courtesy of Only In Your State.

Coming in at number three is Hawaii’s Lake Waiau, the only glacial lake in the Mid-Pacific. This lake is located at 13,020 feet above sea level near the summit of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano that doubles as the highest point on the Big Island. According to ancient Hawaiian legend, this bottomless lake was the point at which spirits traveled between the spirit world and the earthly plane.  (Its actual depth is only 10 feet.) 

4. North Halfmoon Lake

Halfmoon Lake snow
Photo courtesy of Maia Averett.

We’re headed back to Colorado for the fourth-highest lake in America, with a height measured at only a few inches below Lake Waiau. North Halfmoon Lakes are actually a chain of lakes, with the uppermost coming in at just about 13,020 feet above sea level. There isn’t much additional information out there about North Halfmoon Lakes, but this is the first lake on our list with a video that shows exactly how to find it!

5. Frozen Lake, Colorado

Frozen Lake Colorado ice snow

America’s fifth-highest lake can be found in—you guessed it—Colorado. Coming in at 12,950 feet above sea level, Frozen Lake is located on the south face of Mount Bierstadt in the Front Range of the Rockies. 

All of the lakes in this list require a fair amount of hiking in order to access them—so despite their picturesque locations, they probably aren’t the most convenient locations for lake living. But if the high-flying lakes on this list have inspired you to find a mountain-lake getaway of your own, take a look at our listings in Idaho—and stay tuned for listings in Colorado next year!

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