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.
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.
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.
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.