Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.
There are over 3 million lakes all over the US—many of them found in Alaska—but there are some that really stand out amongst the rest. Lakes bring recreational activities, wildlife spotting opportunities, and the chance to kick back and relax—especially during the summer—so it’s no surprise why so many people enjoy an afternoon by the water.
From the ginormous Lake Superior to the bayou surrounded Caddo Lake, here are 13 lakes in America that you should make time to visit.
Caddo Lake, Texas and Louisiana
Caddo Lake is located on the Texas and Louisiana border and is surrounded by a bayou, which covers 25,400 acres. At its deepest, the lake reaches depths of 10 feet, providing incredible kayaking and canoeing opportunities in the bayous, sloughs, and ponds.
Home to more than 70 fish species—as well as gators—Caddo Lake is a nature lovers’ dream. You can even camp in one of the 46 campsites!
Crater Lake, Oregon
Crater Lake in Oregon is America’s deepest lake, with a maximum depth of 1,943 feet. The result of a volcanic eruption over 8,000 years ago, Crater Lake has filled up over time with rain and snow melt, making it one of the cleanest lakes in the entire world. On a good day, the lake even has a visibility of up to 100 feet, which is why it’s a popular destination for scuba divers, fishermen, and recreational paddlers.
Flathead Lake, Montana
Flathead Lake has more than 185 miles of shoreline and is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. Situated in the northwest corner of Montana, Flathead Lake is known for its dude ranches that offer horse riding lessons and trail rides. You’ll also spot wild horses roaming the surrounding areas.
Hanging Lake, Colorado
Hanging Lake is one of the prettiest lakes in all of America, as its waters glisten a beautiful shade of turquoise. And what makes it even better is the lake is fed by waterfalls which only add to the overall allure.
Unfortunately, you can’t swim at Hanging Lake, and it does take a permit and a steep hike to get there, but it is a stunning work of nature that is definitely worth the hassle!
Lake Havasu, Arizona
Lake Havasu in Arizona has crystal-clear turquoise water, sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, and canyons that make it a popular choice amongst spring breakers. However, even during the summer, Lake Havasu is a great place to kayak, swim, and stand-up paddleboard. You can even spot the original London Bridge, which was relocated here from London.
Lake Michigan, Michigan
Lake Michigan makes up one-fifth of the Great Lakes—a group of 5 lakes that contain 21% of the world’s freshwater by surface area. Of the 5, Lake Michigan is the third largest, with shorelines that spread across four different states. The most popular part of the lake’s shore, however, is Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, where many people take in the beauty of Lake Michigan while also exploring the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
The Lake of the Ozarks is a man-made lake and a popular summer vacation destination for those in need of some time by the water. With no horsepower or speed restrictions on the lake, boaters and speed boaters take to the water to push their boats to the limit. Fishermen also favor the Lake of the Ozarks as it is a good spot to fish for bass and catfish.
Lake Powell, Arizona and Utah
Lake Powell is the US’ second largest reservoir and a result of the damming of the Colorado River at Glen Canyon. Situated on the border of Utah and Arizona, Lake Powell has incredible sandstone cliffs that contrast against the turquoise, emerald-hued water the lake is known for.
Whether you kayak or paddleboard, soak up the sun, or explore natural bridges like the Rainbow Bridge, you’re guaranteed to have a great day out at Lake Powell.
Lake Superior, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin
Lake Superior is not only America’s largest freshwater lake but also the world’s, as it covers three states and even crosses over into Canada. As the world’s largest lake, millions of people visit Lake Superior every year to fish, boat, and enjoy the scenery. You can even surf on the lake, as waves can get up to 28 feet tall!
Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
Lake Tahoe is up there are one of the most beautiful lakes in America thanks to its backdrop of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountain peaks. As the largest alpine lake in North America, the second deepest lake in America, and boasting visibility of more than 70 feet, Lake Tahoe is a sight not to be missed. One thing we will say, however, is the water at Lake Tahoe stays cold nearly all year round, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking about taking a dip.
Lake Willoughby, Vermont
One of the best times to visit Lake Willoughby is during the fall when the trees surrounding the lake turn beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow. But even in the summer, this incredibly clear lake is a great choice for boaters, fishermen, and swimmers. Just keep in mind that it is a glacial lake, so the waters can get down to 32 degrees.
Mono Lake, California
You can swim—or should I say, float—in Mono Lake in northern California, as the water is 2.5 times saltier than the ocean. As one of the oldest lakes in North America (it’s more than one million years old), it is a unique sight to see and one we believe that everyone should experience.
Stretching over 65 square miles, Mono Lake’s freshwater evaporates each year, leaving behind even more salt than the year before. If you don’t want to soak in the dense salty waters, you can instead hike, boat, or bird watch.
Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming
Yellowstone Lake is the largest high-elevation lake in North America, sitting at an elevation of 7,733 feet. Nestled in Yellowstone National Park, Yellowstone Lake is incredibly deep, clear, and cold—it even stays frozen for about six months of the year.
Thanks to its location in the National Park, Yellowstone Lake gets extremely crowded in the summer months as people flock to see the waters and the nearby mountains and geysers.
8 Most Unique Places To Kayak In The US- Stunning Beauty
Looking for a unique and thrilling way to explore the natural beauty of the United States? Look no further! From the bioluminescent bays of Puerto Rico to the rugged beauty of the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin, there’s something for every adventure seeker.
The 10 Most Beautiful Hikes In The US- Discovering America
This article highlights the most beautiful hikes in the US from California to Maine. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, there’s a trail on this list that will leave you awe-inspired. So, put on your hiking boots and get ready to explore the diverse and awe-inspiring landscapes of America’s most beautiful hiking destinations.
10 National Parks To Skip If You Have Young Children
This article is a must-read if you’re planning a national park trip with young children! Don’t get stuck in rugged terrain, limited water access, or super-long hiking distances with your kiddos! Learn about the challenges and potential dangers of visiting these parks with young children and plan your trip accordingly for a safe and enjoyable experience.