Thousands of forms of water contribute to the beauty of the United States. These range from the major oceans to bays, sounds, inlets, rivers, streams, straits, ponds, falls, creeks and tributaries across the 50 states. Exploring them all could take several lifetimes, but just spending time at any particular one can be a remarkable experience.
Oceans and Gulf
The contiguous United States are framed by three major bodies of water: the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast, the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. The Pacific also holds the Hawaiian Island chain. The Gulf stretches from Texas to Florida and also touches Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Bays, Sounds, Straits
Each of the ocean states has bays and inlets, but some of the most renowned are Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and Virginia, San Francisco Bay in California, and Galveston Bay in Texas. Even the inland city of Las Vegas has a bay, located on Lake Meade. Puget, Long Island, Nantucket and Prince William are among the dozens of sounds in the U.S. Straits include Juan de Fuca in Washington, The Narrows between Staten Island and Brooklyn in New York, The Straits of Florida, the Strait of Havami and the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska.
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Lakes Great and Small
The United States and Canada are separated in the northeast by the Great Lakes. These are Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Other large lakes in the country are Okeechobee in south Florida, the Great Salt Lake in Utah and the Salton Sea in southern California. Thousands of smaller lakes exist, too, from Crater Lake out west to Rangeley Lake in Maine. The state of Minnesota is called the "Land of 10,000 Lakes."
America has many beautiful rivers, with side tributaries and deltas stretching into marshlands. A few of the greatest rivers are the Columbia in Washington and Oregon, made famous by Lewis and Clark; the Mississippi, which virtually divides the country in half; the Snake River in the west; and the Tennessee River in the south. The Sacramento and American Rivers flow through Northern California, and the Colorado River divides California from Arizona. Other substantial rivers are the Platte, Missouri, Ohio, Red and Yellowstone. Where the rivers branch off, creeks and streams continue through mountains, foothills, prairie lands and meadows.