Explore the most beautiful lakes in the United States

Crater lake

The United States boasts an abundance of stunning lakes, each with its own unique natural beauty and recreational opportunities. From crystal-clear alpine lakes nestled in national parks to serene bodies of water surrounded by lush forests, here’s a guide to some of the most beautiful lakes in the US, along with information on how to get there and general tourist tips.

1. Crater Lake, Oregon

  • Nature: Crater Lake is renowned for its deep blue waters and stunning clarity, set within the collapsed caldera of Mount Mazama. It’s the deepest lake in the United States.
  • Getting There: Crater Lake is situated in Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon. The closest major airport is Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport (MFR), and you can drive to the park from there.
  • Tourist Information: Enjoy scenic drives, hiking trails, and boat tours for breathtaking views of the lake and Wizard Island.

Read more about Crater lake

2. Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada

  • Nature: Lake Tahoe is a massive, clear alpine lake surrounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It’s known for its stunning blue waters and outdoor recreational opportunities.
  • Getting There: Lake Tahoe straddles the California-Nevada border and is easily accessible from both states. The nearest major airports are Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) and Sacramento International Airport (SMF).
  • Tourist Information: Explore hiking trails, indulge in water sports, or simply relax on the beaches. The lake is surrounded by ski resorts, making it a year-round destination.

3. Lake McDonald, Montana

  • Nature: Located in Glacier National Park, Lake McDonald is a glacial lake known for its striking turquoise waters and scenic mountain backdrop.
  • Getting There: Glacier National Park is in the northern part of Montana. The nearest major airport is Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) in Kalispell.
  • Tourist Information: Enjoy boat tours, hiking, and wildlife watching in the park, and be sure to explore the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road for stunning lake views.

4. Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada (near US border)

  • Nature: While Lake Louise is in Canada, it’s a must-see for those near the US border. The lake is famous for its emerald waters, surrounded by towering peaks.
  • Getting There: Lake Louise is located in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. The closest US city is Whitefish, Montana, which has a regional airport (FCA).
  • Tourist Information: Experience the beauty of the Canadian Rockies with hiking, canoeing, and visits to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
Lake Louise

5. Lake Champlain, Vermont/New York

  • Nature: Lake Champlain is a serene freshwater lake nestled between the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Adirondack Mountains of New York.
  • Getting There: Lake Champlain is accessible from various points along its shores in Vermont and New York. The closest major airport is Burlington International Airport (BTV) in Vermont.
  • Tourist Information: Explore historic sites, take scenic ferry rides, and enjoy water sports like kayaking and sailing on the lake.
Sailing on lake Champlain

6. Lake Powell, Arizona/Utah

  • Nature: Lake Powell is a vast, man-made reservoir that stretches across the desert landscapes of Arizona and Utah. It’s known for its striking red-rock canyons and crystal-clear waters.
  • Getting There: Lake Powell is easily accessible from Page, Arizona, where you’ll find Page Municipal Airport (PGA).
  • Tourist Information: Explore the stunning slot canyons, go houseboating, or visit nearby attractions like Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.

7. Lake Placid, New York

  • Nature: Lake Placid, situated in the Adirondack Mountains, is known for its clear waters and picturesque setting. It hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980.
  • Getting There: Lake Placid is reachable by car from major cities like Albany, New York, and Burlington, Vermont.
  • Tourist Information: Enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, and skiing in the winter. Visit the Olympic venues and explore charming Lake Placid Village.

8. Flathead Lake, Montana

  • Nature: Flathead Lake, Montana’s largest natural freshwater lake, is famous for its pristine waters and the stunning backdrop of the Mission Mountains.
  • Getting There: Kalispell, Montana, is the nearest city with Glacier Park International Airport (FCA).
  • Tourist Information: Engage in water activities like fishing and sailing, or visit the charming towns along the lake’s shore, such as Bigfork and Polson.

9. Lake Superior, Michigan (and surrounding states)

  • Nature: Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes, boasts rugged shorelines, clear waters, and a sense of pristine wilderness.
  • Getting There: You can access Lake Superior from various points along its shores in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The nearest major airport is Duluth International Airport (DLH).
  • Tourist Information: Explore the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Isle Royale National Park, and quaint coastal towns like Marquette and Grand Marais.

10. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

  • Nature: Lake Geneva, a glacial lake in southeastern Wisconsin, is known for its clear waters and scenic shoreline.
  • Getting There: Lake Geneva is accessible from major cities like Milwaukee and Chicago, both of which have international airports.
  • Tourist Information: Relax on sandy beaches, go boating, and explore the charming town of Lake Geneva, known for its historic mansions and outdoor activities.

These beautiful lakes offer a glimpse into the natural wonders of the United States, and in some cases, Canada. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, stunning vistas, or simply a tranquil place to relax, these lakes provide a perfect backdrop for your next vacation. Don’t forget to check the accessibility and any park regulations before planning your visit, especially for lakes within national parks.

Find national parks in the US.