An Oxbow Lake encompasses the best of both worlds; rivers and lakes!  Oxbow lakes are U-shaped bodies of water that are formed when a meander of a river is cut off and isolates the meander as a lake.

Young rivers generally start off fairly straight.  As time goes on, they erode their stream banks forming meanders in the river.  The older they get the more pronounced this meander becomes.  In some circumstances, this meander becomes so severe that the bank is eroded away permanently and cuts the meander off, once again forming a straight path for the river.  When this happens, an Oxbow Lake is formed.

A river with an extreme meander that will soon erode its bank and form an oxbow lake.

An aerial view of an Oxbow Lake next to the river it was cut from.