Some of my most favorite places in the world are on the water’s edge. There is something so moving about water lapping against the sand and the sight of water meeting sky that is so tranquil. Even if you cannot get to the beach, there gorgeous lakes scattered throughout North America that will absolutely astounding.
1. Mono Lake, California
Mark Twain might not have loved Mono Lake back when he visited it in the 1860s, but a lot has changed since then. The lower water levels have revealed the eerily (but insanely cool) tufa limestone formations that were once submerged. Plus, it is now a lake with twice as much salt as the ocean, giving it an almost desolate, alien planet ambiance that is perfect for a sci-fi novel setting.
2. Lake Powell, Utah and Arizona
Though this lake is not a naturally made lake but of human creation, it is a truly beautiful location. The lake was created when Glen Canyon was damned up, causing the Colorado River to rise and make the second largest reservoir in the U.S.
However, once that process was completed, the glory of Lake Powell was revealed. There are red sandstone cliffs (including the Rainbow Bridge), canyons, and warm waters that come together for a mind-blowing experience.
3. Crater Lake, Oregon
Formed nearly 8,000 years ago when Mount Mazama blew its top and left a 1,943 foot deep, smoldering caldera behind. Over time, the crater filled with rain and snowmelt. Crater Lake may be one of America’s deepest lakes, but it is also cut off from incoming streams and rivers.
The water remains extremely clear and sunlight penetrates the depths to around 400 feet down, making it a prime location for scuba divers. For those seeking a picture or two, wait until the sun goes down between Wizard Island and the Phantom Ship islands.
4. Lake George, New York
A gorgeous lake at the base of the stunning Adirondack Mountains. What can be more beautiful? Lake George is a popular summer escape. Since the 19th century, even people like John D. Rockefeller and Georgia O’Keefe have been seen soaking up the sun along the shore of Lake George.
For those who are longing for a family vacation, Lake George is a great location, because there are drive-in movie theaters, hot air balloon rides, vineyards, and even museums to discover.
5. Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming
More the 2 million people come to Yellowstone to see one of the world’s most geologically active lakes in between the Beartooth and Absaroka mountains. Wintertime is actually the best time to see the lake, because there are less people there; but you can also see the bubbling geysers and colorful deposits steaming through the snow. It is quite a sight.
6. Lake Superior, Michigan
Of course Lake Superior is on this list. Not only is this the world’s largest fresh lake by surface area, it also has a 2,700-mile long shoreline that is speckled with natural sights like 200-foot high sandstone cliffs, beaches, waterfalls, the Apostle Island sea caves, and the rugged Isle Royale. You can merely stand on the beach and take in the beauty, or you can hike, drive, and kayak throughout the protected areas around Lake Superior.
7. Bear Lake, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
There is a reason why Bear Lake stands out as one of the best lakes in a state with over 3 million lakes. Throughout the year, you can enjoy hiking and kayaking around and on the lake. There are massive glaciers that you can paddle through and around, as well as ice-skating and dog sledding. But the best part? Sometimes you can even see the Northern Lights dancing above the lake.
8. Deer Lake, Minnesota
Minnesota may be called the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” but Deer Lake is something out of a picture book. The mineral content of the water, along with the absurd clarity that allows you to see nearly 15 feet deep in some places, is just the beginning of why Deer Lake astounds. It is also called the “Lake of Changing Colors,” because sometimes it looks blue or green. You can enjoy swimming, canoeing, or boating around the area, too.
9. Hanging Lake, Colorado
Located on the edge of the Glenwood Canyon Cliffs, Hanging Lake is the end to one of Colorado’s most popular hiking trails. It is well worth the adventure to reach this lake, which is framed by steep cliffs and fragile flora.
Although you cannot do anything but look at the beauty of the Hanging Lake, you can take a short trip to the Spouting Rock, where water sluices over an outcrop to form a waterfall where you can cool down after your hike.
10. Caddo Lake, Texas
This lake also spans into parts of Louisiana. You will never find another lake that is so perfectly southern as Caddo Lake. There are Spanish moss-covered trees, clusters of Cyprus standing tall, and even alligator sightings. There have even been reported sightings of Bigfoot, but you will probably see other life before the big guy ever shows up.
Time to grab your camera and pack your bags for a North American lake tour. These lakes are not only famous for their natural beauty, the towns around them are usually filled with history and attractions too. Wherever you go, your jaw is sure to drop when you arrive on the shoreline of these ten most beautiful lakes in North America.