Houseboating Lakes You Might Not Have Heard Of

February 2015 Feature Web Exclusive

We recently asked our Facebook friends what top five houseboating lakes they wanted to shout out. In response, we got a slew of answers all across the spectrum! While we're highlighting the Proud Crowd top five choices in every issue this year, this is a little shout-out to the lesser-known houseboating lakes that, despite their smaller voting numbers, are just as beautiful to visit and are more than worthy of a highlight.  

Trinity Lake, Calif.

One of the largest reservoirs in California, this lake’s capacity is 2,447,650 acre·ft, so there’s plenty of lake to go around. Known for its many small arms, smooth-waved inlets, and fantastic water-skiing conditions, this lake is serviced by three marinas: Trinity Alps Marina, Cedar Stock Marina, and Trinity Center Marina. Most rent houseboats to visitors year round.

Lake Shelbyville, Ill.

This beautiful lake’s normal surface pool is 11,100 acres at an elevation of 600.4 ft. Over 50 miles of developed multi-purpose trails offer visitors beautiful scenic vistas as well as great mountain biking and hiking. An abundance of wildlife offers wildlife watching or hunting. Attractions nearby include the 1870’s Best Wedding Chapel, tucked away in the historic town of Shelbyville, famous for its Gothic-style design, 14-foot stained glass windows, and 33-foot cathedral ceiling. Also nearby is the Tower of Baa, the only goat tower in the U.S. that offers Dave Johnson’s Saanen goats shade and 31 feet to climb. If old time movies are your thing, visit the restored Roxy theatre, which shows off neon lighting, old-style curtains and vintage fabrics inside. There are also several wineries, three public beaches, and a water park. Lake Shelbyville is serviced by Findlay Marina (217-756-8595), Lithia Springs Marina (800-447-4121), and Sullivan Marina and Campground (888-728-7338).

Wilson Lake, Kansas

Many call Wilson Lake the clearest lake in Kansas. This beautiful reservoir offers over 100 miles of scenic shoreline to explore with hiking, hunting, and nature watching. A four-mile biking trail offers steep climbs and descents as well as a gorgeous view of the area. Also a noted hotspot for fishing, Wilson Lake is particularly known for its smallmouth bass and striped bass populations that offer great fishing opportunities in this region. Wilson State Park guards nearby and offers visitors cabins, camping, grills, and volleyball courts. Lake Wilson Marina (785-658-2392) offers services to this eye-catching lake. 

Norris LakeTenn.

Tucked among the rolling green hills is the tranquil Norris Lake, which offers vacation retreaters clear water and beautiful mountain views. With no end of horseback riding, boating, fishing, swimming, tubing and jet ski thrill rides, this deep, winding lake offers many opportunities for fun. Numerous marinas offer houseboat and PWC rentals, and winter cabins offer outdoor hot tubs and stone fire pits for the peaceful winter months. Check out Beach Island Resort & Marina (865-992-3091), Cedar Grove Marina (865-278-3131), Hickory Star Marina (800-235-6866), and others to meet your needs.  

Lake Hartwell, S.C.

Lake Hartwell is one of the southeast's largest lakes with an impressive girth of 962 miles of shoreline and holds about 56,000 acres of water. As well as being darn attractive for recreational boaters, this lake attracts anglers from all over with its crappie, catfish, bream, and striped, largemouth, and hybrid bass. Lake Hartwell strikes an impressive sight to see and is brimming with life. Marinas such as Big Water Marina (864-226-3339), Portman Marina (864-287-3211), and Harbor Light Marina (706-356-4119) service this beautiful area. 

Lake Mead, Nevada

If you thought Lake Hartwell was big, check out Lake Mead. This lake tips the scale as the largest capacity reservoir in the U.S. Though this beautiful lake has less shoreline at 759 miles, it makes up with 28 million acre feet of water when filled to capacity. Unfortunately, due to drought this hasn’t happened for a few decades.

Two stark mountain ranges cup the lake, providing a gorgeous view—especially as the sun sets. Cruises just a few minutes away from the Las Vegas strip are offered aboard a Mississippi-style three-level paddle wheeler christened the Desert Princess, operated by Lake Mead Cruises. Marinas that service the lake include Callville Bay Resort (702-565-8958) and Lake Mead Marina (702-293-1191)

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