The idea of a “lake district” is not as well known in the U.S. as it is in places such as England or Canada. The term usually refers to a relatively small geographical area primarily known for its lakes.
Many times a district is dominated by one particularly large lake surrounded by many smaller lakes. Usually, you can visit several lakes within a 30-minute drive.
Recreation is primarily the main attraction around these types of lakes. Activities such as fishing, boating, hiking, and camping are prevalent. In addition, while many of them act as reservoirs for local communities, most of them have been set aside for preservation and public enjoyment.
These five lake districts in the U.S. are fed by rivers, rainwater, creeks, or by dams and diversions, and no matter where you go, you and your RV will be surrounded by water.
1. Highland Lakes, Texas
What sounds like a mist-enshrouded set of lochs in Scotland is actually located in the heart of Texas Hill Country. The Highland Lakes of Burnet County consists of five lakes created by dams and popular for fishing and water skiing. The area is also popular with birdwatchers, wine enthusiasts, and golfers.
Lake Buchanan, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis, Inks Lake, and Lake LBJ are surrounded by several small towns including Marble Falls and Llano. The area is about 85 miles from Austin, so you can really feel like you are away from the city.
For a classic Texas getaway, stay at the Canyon of the Eagles Lodge in Burnet. The resort offers both full hookup RV sites and tent-only campsites. Resort amenities include access to Lake Buchanan, a large camp store, and even an observatory with two telescopes to view the big Texas sky.
2. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Lake of the Ozarks might be the official lake district of the U.S. This unique reservoir created by hydroelectric power plants on the Osage River is located in central Missouri and is a tourist destination in itself. In fact, it was recently named the Best Recreational Lake by USA Today and 10Best.
With over 1,150 miles of shoreline, the recreation runs the gamut from fishing, water skiing, kayaking, and swimming to hiking, birdwatching, and spelunking. With its odd snake shape and wiggly fingers, the lake is also home to thousands of cave systems.
Several of them, such as Bridal Cave, are available for tours. The Lake of the Ozarks has plentiful state park camping with beaches and access to the lakes. The amenity-rich Riviera Villas RV Park & Campground has its own cove as well as a saltwater pool and hot tub. It also has a playground, a fish-cleaning station, stand-up paddleboard and kayak rentals. It’s also big rig friendly.
3. Lakes Basin Recreation Area, California
California is home to many famous lakes including Lake Tahoe and Mono Lake, but the Lakes Basin Recreation Area tends to stay hidden away in the folds of the rugged Sierra Nevada.
Easily accessible by vehicles during the summer, this beautiful alpine area has dozens of spring-fed or snow-fed lakes like Gold Lake, Sardine Lake, and Long Lake. The campgrounds are primarily US Forest Service campgrounds, but many of them can fit larger RVs.
The Sardine Lake Campground has 27 RV and tent sites with access to the stunning creek and lake scenery. Clio’s Rivers Edge RV Park near the tiny town of Graeagle has 200 full hookup sites, cable and WiFi, and access to the local golf course.
4. Idaho Panhandle
The Idaho Panhandle doesn’t seem to be a likely lake district, but this 300-foot wide area of this northern state is home to some of the most stunning lakes in the west. From Harrison Slough in the south to the massive Lake Pend Oreille in the north, there are plenty of waterways to explore in an RV. If you like smaller lakes and rustic campgrounds, check out Hayden Lake near the Coeur d’Alene National Forest.
If you want to be near the local action, check out some of the luxury RV parks around the pretty town of Coeur d’Alene. Tamarack RV Park has full hookup sites starting at $42 per night as well as rental cabins. StoneRidge Golf and Recreational Community has an 18-hole golf course, 80 RV sites, a restaurant and grill, and a 3,500 square foot fenced dog park. If you fall in love with this area, you can also purchase a lot for your camper or trailer.
5. Lake Region, North Dakota
Consisting of several large lakes such as Devils Lake, Lake Irvine, Lake Alice, and Dry Lake, as well as hundreds of smaller lakes, the Lake Region in North Dakota is an interesting mix of small-town life, seemingly endless waterways full of sport fishing, and dozens of campgrounds and RV parks.
Woodland Resort sits on a peninsula on Devils Lake and has large RV sites with water and 30-amp power for only $30 per night. Woodland also has dock, boat, and pontoon rentals during the summer and ice house rentals when the lakes freeze over in the winter.
A majority of the lake region area is the Spirit Lake Reservation and is owned by the Spirit Lake Tribe. Several campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts are also on the tribal land, including the Spirit Lake Casino & Resort with a 73 site RV park and an indoor waterslide and pool.