New York has always been known for its rich history, but a fossil reef hiding underwater in one of the state's most famous lakes might take the cake.

While most local history focuses on human events (like the Revolutionary War battleground that has become a modern-day campground), other landmarks date back millions of years. Not only is New York home to the oldest known forest in the world, but the oldest fossil reef as well... and it's welcoming visitors this summer.

Photo of Lake Champlain with a superimposed image of a dinosaur skeleton
One of New York's most famous lakes is home to the world's oldest fossil reef (Google/Puwadol Jaturawutthichai via Canva)

New York State's Magical Lakes

There are a staggering amount of lakes in New York State. With nearly 8,000 bodies of water (including reservoirs) and more than 70,000 miles of creeks, streams, and rivers, it's a paradise for boating and fishing enthusiasts as well as families looking to enjoy a relaxing weekend. One of the state's most beloved lakes, however, is hiding an exciting secret.

READ MORE: What's Hiding at the Bottom of the Deepest Lake in New York?

Chazy Reef in Lake Champlain

Chazy Reef, located in Lake Champlain, is recognized as the "oldest known occurrence of a biologically diverse fossil reef in the world" by the National Parks Service (NPS). The reef, which is estimated to date back roughly 460 millions years, contain fossils from creatures long-gone from planet, and curious visitors have a chance to see the literal pieces of history up close.

View of Lake Champlain from Isle La Motte
Isle La Motte on Lake Champlain has some of the best examples of the fossil reef (Google)

World's Oldest Fossil Reef is Located in New York State

With the reef's location in both New York and Vermont, visitors can choose their access point,. Fossil enthusiasts who desire a closer look, however, are recommended to visit the Vermont Museum in West Marlboro, VT. If a "field study" is preferred, Lake Champlain's Isle La Motte is known to have the most abundant examples of the fascinating fossils. It's not the only historically unique lake in the state, either.

Photo of Green Lake State Park in Fayetteville, NY
One of the country's only meromictic lakes is located in new York State (Cindy P. Bishop/NY State Parks via Instagram)

Green Lake State Park in Fayetteville, NY

Green Lake State Park in Fayetteville, NY (above), is home to both Green Lake and Round Lake. Similar to Lake Mohonk, Green and Round Lakes were carved by ancient glaciers. Something else, however, separates these lakes from most others in the country: they are both meromictic lakes.

Photo of Green Lake State Park in Fayetteville, NY
The meromictic lake at Green Lake State Park in Fayetteville, NY (Google)

Meromictic Lakes in New York State

Meromictic lakes have some unusual characteristics, but the highlight is that the lake's water doesn't always mix between its lower and upper levels. This creates strata of water, and can lead to some spectacular views (above).

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New York lakes are the perfect way to cool of this summer, and whether the trip is focused on natural history or simply unwinding, there's a destination for every family. Take a look at some more great options below.

Three Lakes Named Best in the Country From New York

These 3 New York Lakes are up for best in the country.

Gallery Credit: Canva, Wikipedia

New York's 14 Best Lakes For Swimming

What makes a great swimming hole? Pristine waters, great beaches, mild temps, shallow waters, lifeguards, and more are many of the characteristics that are common in AZ Animals 14 best lakes for swimming in the state of New York. From just outside the city, to the Finger Lakes, to the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, these are your must-visit swimming holes for summer 2023!

Gallery Credit: Matty Jeff