The United States has some of the most picturesque natural scenery anywhere in the world. For the many who do not live along an eastern or western shoreline, there are crystal-clear lakes that are accessible and open to all, offering sandy shores and stunning waters that rival any of their coastal counterparts. If you are looking to plan a getaway and relax by the water, the clearest, bluest lakes in the country could be a great alternative to an ocean vacation.
Crater Lake - Oregon
Crater Lake in Oregon is arguably one of the most beautiful lakes in the country. Famous for its crystal clear and stunningly blue water, Crater Lake formed over 7,500 years ago after Mount Mazama violently exploded, leaving only a crater in its destruction. At 1,946 feet, it’s considered the deepest lake in the U.S., and the calmness of the water helps to give it its ultra-transparent quality. The lake’s water is supplied completely by snow and rain, as there are no inlets from other water sources. This means that no sediment or mineral deposits are carried into Crater Lake, making it one of the cleanest and clearest lakes on the planet. If you visit this stunning lake, you can take a hike with your loved ones, drive the 33-mile Rim Drive surrounding the lake, or complete the junior ranger program. Other exciting activities include camping, fishing, stargazing, and exploring Wizard Island which is the cone-shaped land mass you see in the middle of the lake.
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Jenny Lake - Wyoming
Jenny Lake, located within Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming has waveless, clear waters that were created by glaciers over 12,000 years ago that carved through rock which created Cascade Canyon. Jenny Lake ranks high on the list of spectacular natural attractions in Grand Teton National Park and inspires awe from all who visit. The views from the east showcase Mount St. John and Teewinot Mountain, and from the west you can see across the lake and into the valley of Jackson Hole. The chillier water temperatures make it better suited for canoeing and kayaking than swimming, but if you are brave enough, a wetsuit is recommended. Hiking the 7-mile Jenny Lake loop generally takes about 2 - 3 hours, and there are places where the elevation reaches over 1,000 feet giving hikers breathtaking views. Grand Teton National Park does charge an admittance fee that includes access to all the other lakes and activities the park has to offer. Learn more about Jenny Lake
Lake Tahoe - California/Nevada
Straddling the border between California and Nevada, enormous Lake Tahoe is so postcard-worthy that an entire tourism industry sprung up around it. Whether you’re boating, walking along the shoreline, or soaking in the views from the scenic hiking trails, the deep blue waters of this beloved natural attraction always steal the show. On the Nevada portion of this alpine lake is the Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park with hiking trails and Sand Harbor Beach where you can sunbathe on the shores and even swim in the clear but chilly waters. There are 63 tributaries that feed Lake Tahoe which contribute to the crystal-clear turquoise lake which has a depth of over 1,600 feet and 6,225 feet above sea level. Lake Tahoe is so clear that in some places you can see over 70 feet below the surface. Along with gorgeous views, there are areas to picnic, hike, bike, and equestrian trails.
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Lake George - New York
In upstate New York, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, you’ll find many lakes within the Adirondack State Park, including the spectacular Lake George. At 32 miles long, it’s also known as the Queen of American Lakes because of its pristine beauty and deep blue water, attracting over 50,000 tourists each summer. It’s one of the biggest and clearest lakes in the country and is fed by underground springs that give the lake its signature crystal-clear waters. Lake George has 300 islands and about 100 miles of shoreline, much of which offers lodging and campgrounds. Outdoor summer activities include jet skiing, water skiing, kayaking, rafting, fishing, hiking, and more. However, it’s worth the visit in winter as well, with charming restaurants, ice bars, the Winter Carnival, and Ice Castles, so there is plenty to do and see when the snow flies. Outdoor winter activities include winter hiking, snowmobiling, downhill and cross-country skiing.
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Flathead Lake - Montana
Flathead Lake in Montana is spread across 188 square miles, is over 27 miles long and 371 feet deep, and is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. Tourists flock to the lake for a variety of water sports and activities such as sailing, wakeboarding, fishing, swimming, boating, and camping. The Wild Horse Island found in the lake is a wildlife refuge with more than 70 species of birds, coyotes, deer, bears, and bighorn sheep calling it their home. While visiting, enjoy the gorgeous views of Glacier Park, Big Mountain, and the Swan Mountain range with trails to hike, explore the local flora and fauna, and even roadside stands selling fresh fruits like cherries, apples, plums, peaches, and strawberries. Whether you stay at one of the many campgrounds in the area, choose to rent a yurt, or rent a luxury cabin on the lake, there is so much to see and do all year round. In winter, popular cold-weather activities include cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and more.
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We hope this has inspired you to plan your next lake getaway! Have you been to one of the lakes mentioned? If so, feel free to reach out and tell us about it at WinniWanderer@winni.com. Hearing from you will make our day!
By Staff Contributor