What States Are the Great Lakes In?

Wondering what states the Great Lakes are in?

The Great Lakes are located in an area spanning 8 U.S. states – Minnesota,Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York – plus Ontario, Canada.

There is so much more to learn about them though! Here is a list of the states that each of the 5 massive lakes make contact with and a few facts about each.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes and borders 3 U.S. states and the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area. It’s so big in fact that it contains 10% of the earth’s surface water. If you wanted to drive around Lake Superior it’s a distance of about 1300 miles, or about the same as a drive from New York City to Miami! The total shoreline of Lake Superior stretches 2,726 miles, this includes all of the islands and coves the lake has which makes it more than double the distance to simply drive around it.

  • Minnesota – Borders Lake Superior to the west.
  • Wisconsin – Borders Lake Superior to the southwest and borders 1 other Great Lake.
  • Michigan – Borders Lake Superior to the south and borders 3 other Great Lakes.

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan is the third largest Great Lake, by surface area, but the only one of the 5 that is located 100% in the United States. An estimated 12 million people live along the shores of Lake Michigan with several large cities on the shore such as Chicago Illinois, Milwaukee Wisconsin, Green Bay Wisconsin, and Gary Indiana. Technically Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are connected by connected by the Strait of Mackinac and make up one lake so an argument can be made that there are only 4 Great Lakes.

  • Michigan – Borders Lake Michigan to the east and north.
  • Wisconsin – Borders Lake Michigan to the west.
  • Illinois – Borders Lake Michigan to the south.
  • Indiana – Borders Lake Michigan to the south.
the 8 states that touch at least one of the great lakes

Lake Huron

By surface area alone, Lake Huron is the second largest of The Great Lakes. As we touched on above, it is technically connected to Lake Michigan and the two combined would be the largest Great Lake but they are looked at as 2 seperate bodies of water. Lake Huron has over 30,000 islands and when taking these into account it has 3,287 miles of shoreline. Check out this post to see the U.S. state with the most shoreline.

  • Michigan – The only U.S. state to border Huron is Michigan to the west. The other side of Huron is in Canada.

Lake Erie

The fourth largest great lake and the only other lake besides Lake Michigan that borders four U.S. states. Experts say Lake Erie was formed by a glacier about 4,000 years ago, making it fairly young. It was also the last of the Great Lakes to be explored by Europeans in the 1600s. It is the warmest of the 5 lakes because it is relatively shallow compared to the others, this also means that it freezes quicker. Have you heard the term “lake effect snow”? Lake Erie is known to cause large amounts of snow in nearby areas such as Buffalo, New York.

  • Michigan – Borders Lake Erie to the east.
  • Ohio – Borders Lake Erie to the south and southeast.
  • Pennsylvania – Borders Lake Erie to the east.
  • New York – Borders Lake Erie to the northeast and borders one other Great Lake.
a lighthouse on Lake Erie

Trivia Time: What states does the Ohio River run through?

Lake Ontario

The final and smallest of the Great Lakes is Lake Ontario. Even though it is the smallest by surface area, it is a deep lake having 4 times the volume of Lake Erie. The water from Niagra Falls flows into Lake Ontario and the water from all of the other Great Lakes flow into it as well which also makes it the most polluted of the 5 lakes. Lake Ontario is also known for contributing to lake effect snow in some of the cities near the shores. The lake is also home to many different islands including Wolf Island which is 48 square miles in size.

  • New York – Borders Lake Ontario to the south.