There are literally thousands of lakes across the United States. No doubt you are no more than a full tank of gas away from seeing a (ahem) great lake. Mind you, not all lakes are equal in terms of rugged good looks. So we thought we would present to you the 12 most beautiful lakes in the United States. Here they are:
12 Most Beautiful Lakes
1. Lake Powell, Arizona, and Utah
Lake Powell straddles the borders of Arizona and Utah. Humans don’t often accidentally create anything this beautiful. This reservoir on the mighty Colorado River once stirred up a flood of trouble when the old Glen Canyon was dammed up and the river rose to create this artificial lake.
But today no one can deny the natural allure of this pristine, lengthy lake. It’s not only the second-largest reservoir in the nation but it comes complete with warm blue water surrounded by crimson sandstone cliffs and over 90 neighboring side canyons. Veteran visitors say you must visit it at least once in your lifetime. Don’t miss the sandstone Rainbow Bridge too. It’s one of the planet’s largest naturally occurring bridges.
2. Lake George, New York
Also known as the “Queen of American Lakes”, Lake George is situated in the Adirondack State Park. This lovely lake stains into famous Lake Champlain. At The Narrows, the spring-fed lake is squeezed by the well-known southern Adirondacks squeeze the spring-fed lake into a five-mile length complete with numerous islands of various sizes.
After you see the narrow, long oligotrophic lake, be sure to check out the famous Sagamore Resort, which harkens back to the 19th century. This lake was once a natural playground for robber barons of the Gilded Age. Many of these robber barons once owned the old waterfront stone mansions still found on the 10-mile strip nicknamed Millionaire’s Row.
3. Lake Santeetlah, North Carolina
The 3,000-acre man-made Lake Santeetlah was created back in 1928. It was then that the Alcoa corporation dammed the Cheoah River in order to hydroelectrically generate power for the residents of Graham County. Ensconced in the beautiful Nantahala National Forest,
It is surrounded by the famous Great Smoky Mountains. Its 76-mile, forested shoreline is generally protected from any potential future development. Thus, it is now a peaceful, undisturbed place for canoeing, fishing, kayaking, communing with nature, or kicking back on the Cheoah Point beach. This lake remains practically pristine. It’s also a watering hole for bald eagles, beavers, otters, and hawks.
4. Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming
Yellowstone Lake is situated in one of the planet’s most geologically active places. It is also the officially largest body of water in all of Yellowstone National Park. (The park itself spans the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.)
The Absaroka and Beartooth mountains serve as a fitting backdrop to this crystal clear lake. Although over 2 million travelers come here to the park every summer, some sources suggest the best time to see the lake itself is in the winter. They report that the lively geysers found along the striking West Thumb shoreline look like multi-colored cauldrons amidst the virgin white snow. Indeed, the rising steam released there adds an eerie aura to the frozen landscape.
5. Lake Superior, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin
Veteran visitors say the lake’s name pretty much speaks for itself. This state-spanning lake is not only the largest of the Great Lakes but also the largest freshwater lake on the planet (measured by surface area). The best time to visit the lake is during the fall.
Take in the views along the lake’s lovely 2,700-mile shoreline. It’s then that the nearby foliage is a virtual rainbow of warm, welcoming colors. Visit the southeast of this lake and see Spray Falls. The clear turquoise water looks as if it came from the beautiful Caribbean. Other neighboring natural attractions include the beaches, the impressive 200-foot sandstone cliffs, and additional waterfalls that pour into the lake at popular Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
6. Flathead Lake, Montana
You’ll find Flathead Lake nestled in the Flathead Valley in northwest Montana. To the east, you’ll see the mighty Mission Mountains, and to the west, the stunning Salish Mountains. Due to an exceptionally mild climate for a place so far inland and north, you will also find fruit orchards in the surrounding area and vineyards, and vineyards to the west.
Flathead is reported to be the officially largest natural freshwater lake just west of the Mississippi. The water is crystalline here and the locals claim there’s even a resident Flathead Lake Monster. According to some reports, the creature could be a close cousin of the legendary Loch Ness Monster. Still, most travelers say you’re more likely to see wild horses and other wildlife roaming the state park.
7. Hanging Lake, Colorado
This turquoise gem is situated in Glenwood Canyon, roughly seven miles east of popular Glenwood Springs. More specifically, this waterfall-fed lake is located along the very edge of noteworthy Glenwood Canyon Cliffs. It’s the big payoff at the end of one of the state’s most well-known hikes (which currently requires a permit). The 1.2-mile trail is both steep and rocky but eventually leads to a newer boardwalk that was built to protect the now-fragile lake ecosystem and travertine bed, created over the millennia by various mineral deposits. Swimming in the lake itself is not permitted but a brief detour off the trail will take you to popular Spouting Rock, where a waterfall is available to cool any and all hot, sweaty hikers.
8. Crater Lake, Oregon
Crater Lake is a mountain lake in the south-central section of the state. It’s the main attraction at the aptly-named Crater Lake National Park. It was created almost 8,000 years ago when the volcanic Mount Mazama erupted and formed a caldera that was slowly filled with rainwater and snowmelt.
Crater Lake has a diameter of almost six miles. It is well-known for its significantly deep blue color and its noticeable clarity. The clarity is due to its being cut off from incoming rivers and streams. The visibility is reported to be between 90 and 100 feet. Sunlight penetrates the lake as far down as 400 feet. With a depth of 1,943 feet, it’s the country’s deepest lake.
9. Lake Tahoe, California
One of the country’s more famous lakes is Lake Tahoe. This lake is situated on the border of California and Nevada. It is surrounded by the stunning snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is the second deepest lake in the nation.
It is 1,645 feet deep and has a visibility of over 70 feet in certain areas. The water is so clear that if the weather was not always so chilly you would think you were in the Caribbean. Any time is good for witnessing the natural beauty of North America’s largest alpine lake. If you like skiing then visit in the winter as the ski runs offer exhilarating views. If you’re into watersports then best visit in the summer.
10. Caddo Lake, Louisiana and Texas
Caddo Lake spans 25,400 acres. It’s located on the border between Louisiana and Texas. In truth, it is much more than a simple lake.
Like the lake town of Uncertain, Texas, this place is shrouded in mystery. Spanish moss hangs from the crooked tree limbs here in this network of bayous, backwaters, and swampy marshes. Indeed, many beer boats went into hiding from the authorities here during Prohibition.
The area is rife with submerged tree roots, frogs, and lurking alligators. Even the legendary creature known as Bigfoot has supposedly been sighted in the area. The best way to experience the primordial beauty of Caddo is via canoe or boat. Just don’t forget your map!
11. Mono Lake, California
You can see Mono Lake in Mono County, California. This saline soda (carbonate-filled) lake is situated amidst a foreboding landscape of dry hills, dusty desert, and old volcanic craters on the eastern side of the famous Sierra Nevada.
Researchers report that this lake was created more than 760,000 years ago as “a terminal lake in an endorheic basin.” Since it does not have an outlet, a lot of salt accumulates here. Thus the water is alkaline. Still, the ecosystem here is quite productive. The lake is actually a habitat for approximately 2 million migratory birds annually that feed off the shrimp and alkali flies living here.
12. Echo Lake, New Hampshire
Travelers will find Echo Lake in the southeast corner of the well-known White Mountains National Forest. Echo Lake is nestled beneath the shadow of striking Whitehorse Ledge. The ledge is so large its reflection takes up almost all of the lake’s 16 acres of clear water.
White Horse and the neighboring 500-foot cliffs of memorable Cathedral Ledge are quite popular places for rock climbing. Hikers also come here to take in the incredible bird’s eye views of the lake and the nearby mountains. If you’re a leaf lover, then fall is the best time to visit. It is then that the slopes seem to explode with striking oranges, reds, and yellows.
Enjoy the lakes!