When it comes to breathtaking bodies of water, some of the clearest lakes in the U.S. on this list certainly earn its “America the Beautiful” appellation. All across America, you’ll find some of the most pristine lakes on the planet. These cerulean waters are so deeply sky blue, they truly do not look real (and definitely need no filters). The real kicker is that these crystal-clear lakes are landlocked and found in some of the most surprising places.

Below you’ll find 15 of the best lakes in the U.S., that you really must see to believe. Because here’s the thing: photos don’t even begin to do these places justice. So let the following list fuel your wanderlust as you embark on a cross-country adventure to some of our country’s most beautiful bodies of water!

Northeast United States

The Northeast portion of the US is well-known for the Atlantic Ocean and the many charming East Coast towns. But there are a number of beautiful lakes as well that deserve more attention. Here are a few stunning lakes in the Northeastern United States.

Southern United States

Lakes in the south are also overshadowed by the Gulf Coast and warm ocean beaches. But Florida alone has over 7,000 lakes! Here are some of the best lakes in the Southern United States.

Midwest United States

The Midwest is well-known as being lake country, and a weekend getaway to a cabin on the lake is one of the highlights of summertime. You also can’t forget the Great Lakes that make up a big part of recreational activities in the upper Midwest.

Southwest United States

Some of the cleanest and most pristine lakes can be found in the Southwest US. Combine that with gorgeous natural areas made up of mountains, canyons, and forests, and you have a wicked combination perfect for outdoor adventures.

Northwest United States

The Northwestern United States also has incredibly scenic lakes. Crater Lake in Oregon might just be the most iconic lake in the entire United States. But that’s not to say the rest of the lake in the Northwest should play second fiddle. Here are a few you definitely need to put on your bucket list.

This list of the clearest lakes in the U.S. showcase peak American beauty and how incredibly wondrous the U.S. really is. Most of us do not live along the coast, where we have unlimited access to the bountiful beaches and shores of the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans. But that’s okay. All across America, 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.

To discover more about some of the cleanest lakes in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency offers such information as a National Lakes Assessment, Lake Water Quality Summaries, and the Clean Lakes Program.

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More to Explore

Clearest Lakes In The US

What makes a lake clear?

Basically, the lack of algae makes a lake clear. Some lakes are naturally more clear than others, but if a lake has high levels of organic matter, pollution, or sediment it tends to be green, murky, or brown. In the case of Lake Tahoe, there is an abundance of zooplankton that eat other tiny particles that would normally cloud the lake.

What is one of the cleanest lakes in the U.S.?
Lake Ouachita is one of the cleanest lakes in Arkansas and possibly in the U.S., with refreshing, crystal-clear water and beyond-beautiful scenery. Located in Mountain Pine Arkansas, Lake Ouachita spans 40,000 acres surrounded by the breathtaking landscape of Ouachita National Forest. In addition to swimming, you'll find kayakers, scuba divers, and people fishing along the banks or from their boats. Call ahead to get the grill ready for some scrumptious catfish or striped bass.

Can you swim or boat in clear lakes?

You can definitely swim and boat in clear lakes, unless of course the lake is protected and those activities are not allowed. There is a difference between clear lakes and clean lakes, however. A lake could be clear, but not very clean, such is the case with lakes polluted with farmland runoff. So just because you can see the bottom of the lake does not always mean it is also clean.

What is one of the best lakes in the U.S.?
Some say these lakes in Kentucky, are some of the best lakes in the U.S. Laurel River Lake, near London, is in the Daniel Boone National Forest, where you can see the tallest waterfall in Kentucky. Or try Cave Run Lake, near Morehead. The lake is 8,270 acres tucked in the stunning eastern Kentucky mountains, offering a safe habitat for fish, birds, and other wildlife. Visitors can enjoy a variety of recreational activities, from boating to camping and even visiting some historical sites.

Are clear lakes safe for drinking water?

Clear lakes are usually not safe for drinking without filtering because unseen bacteria, parasites, and viruses can still lurk in the water. Just because a lake, river, or stream is clear does not mean it is safe for drinking. Such is the case with Lake Michigan - it may look clean and clear but it is one of the most polluted lakes in the US.

Where are some of the best lakeside restaurants in the U.S.?
These nine choices in Ohio will surely have you driving to the Buckeye State. The Cranberry Resort, in Huntsville, was built in 1947, and given an extensive facelift in 2006. The one-story building offers 3,900 square feet of indoor space and a 1,900-square-foot outdoor patio. Try some appetizers and salads, the "World-Famous ribs" ribs, or fish on Fish Fry Fridays. Or try out Rafter’s at the Deer Creek Lodge & Conference Center, in Marietta, where guests enjoy the rustic atmosphere and the outstanding lake view. With new and traditional dishes, the menu also caters to the kids, with pizza, burgers, and mac-and-cheese.