Bucket List June 16, 2021
15 Crystal-Clear Lakes Across America That Will Make You Forget About The Coast
When it comes to breathtaking bodies of water, the United States certainly earns its “America the Beautiful” appellation. All across the U.S., 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 crystal-clear lakes, located all across America, 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!
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
Northeast United StatesLake George - New York
Lake George, NY 12845, USA
Known as the “Queen of American Lakes,” Lake George is 32 miles long and fed by underground springs that give the lake its signature crystal-clear waters. Located in the southeastern Adirondack State Park, Lake George is a natural oasis that draws more than 50,000 summer visitors each year, who come to enjoy its beautiful views and magnetic, deep-blue waters. Lake George boasts over 109 miles of shoreline and more than 300 islands, many of which feature
and campgrounds perfect for those looking for a more immersive experience of this natural wonder.
Lake Winnipesaukee - New Hampshire
Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, USA
Located at the foothills of the rugged and majestic White Mountains, Lake Winnipesaukee is a vision. At 21 miles long, it's the largest lake in New Hampshire, and by far, the most beguiling. In the summer, Lake Winnipesaukee is a favorite place for swimming, as it boasts an abundance of soft, sandy shoreline and
. A Northeast lake through and through, in the autumn, the fall foliage peeking out behind Lake Winnipesaukee's cobalt waters will completely take your breath away.
Lake Champlain - New York & Vermont
Lake Champlain, Lake Champlain
Located on the border of New York and Vermont, Lake Champlain is a pristine pool of calm, cerulean waters. Like most destinations in the Northeast, Lake Champlain has quite a history. The lake itself and the land surrounding it played an integral role in three American wars: the French & Indian War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812; and visitors can learn more about these events at the
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
in Vermont. History aside, Lake Champlain is a popular summertime destination; its azure waters and soft, sandy shoreline an irresistible draw. In the winter, you can go ice skating on Lake Champlain, which really is a quintessential Northeast experience.
Southern United StatesNorris Lake - Tennessee
Norris Lake, Tennessee, USA
Norris Lake has 809 miles of shoreline, 33,840 acres of water surface, and is the largest reservoir on a tributary of the Tennessee River. Those are the numbers, but Norris Lake is so much more than its superlative stats. For starters, it's brilliantly blue, boasting the clearest, most pristine water in Tennessee. The East Tennessee hills surround Norris Lake, and the distant peaks set against this cerulean lake create the Platonic ideal of vacation postcards. Home to myriad parks, campgrounds, and lodging areas, it's no wonder
is one of the most popular vacation spots in the South!
Lake Murray State Park - Oklahoma
Lake Murray, Oklahoma 73401, USA
Few people realize that Oklahoma is hiding one of the most crystal-clear lakes in the country: Lake Murray. This dazzling gem is located in Lake Murray State Park, Oklahoma's first and largest state park, which consists of 12,500 acres of forested, rolling hills surrounding the eponymous lake. When out at the center of Lake Murray, you can see all the way to the bottom, a feat that's rare for most Midwestern lakes. On its shores sits
, a castle-like monument and nature center that simply adds to the lake's winsome charms.
Midwest United StatesTorch Lake - Michigan
Torch Lake, MI 49648, USA
Known for its pristine, aquamarine waters, Torch Lake in Michigan is an undeniable natural beauty. Part of Michigan's "Chain of Lakes" - 14 lakes and connecting rivers - Torch Lake is the state's longest inland lake and its second-largest. However, this dazzling Michigan lake truly looks like it belongs in the Caribbean. A
for water recreation, Torch Lake's waters are so crystal-clear that boats and swimmers appear as though they’re suspended in the air. It's something you truly must experience!
Lake of the Ozarks - Missouri
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, USA
Lake of the Ozarks is an unexpected oasis in Missouri, a state better known for its cultural scene. A massive, man-made lake created by impounding the Osage River in central Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks is a
beloved summertime destination
for Missourians. It boasts deep blue waters and a distinct serpentine shape, and is colloquially referred to as "Puff The Magic Dragon." Indeed, there is a magical quality to Lake of the Ozarks, and once you visit, you'll understand.
Lake Michigan - Illinois
Lake Michigan, United States
To be clear, the resplendent Lake Michigan really belongs to Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. However, this cerulean blue lake is a major part of The Windy City. Let's start with a geography lesson: the U.S. and Canada are home to the largest group of interconnected freshwater lakes
on the planet
by total area and the second-largest by total value. The Great Lakes of North America are comprised of five lakes which contain 21% of the world's total freshwater by surface area. Lake Michigan is the third-largest of the Great Lakes, with a shoreline spanning four states.
Intriguing geography aside, Lake Michigan is an absolutely brilliant body of water and an inextricable part of the Chicago cityscape.
is the most popular lakeside recreation area in Chicago, and people come from all over to marvel at this breathtaking body of water - especially at sunrise.
Lake Superior - Michigan, Minnesota & Wisconsin
Lake Superior, Lake Superior
Lake Superior lives up to its name: it is the largest freshwater lake by surface area in the
, with 2,700 miles of shoreline covering three states (Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) and crossing over into Ontario, Canada. If you think you know what to expect from the Great Lakes, think again. Lake Superior looks like the crystal-clear waters of the Pacific, and there are some geographical features in this lake that look like something you'd expect to see in Hawaii. Pictured here are the
in Wisconsin, a fantastical place that seems like it was pulled from the pages of "Peter Pan."
Southwest United StatesHanging Lake - Colorado
Hanging Lake, Colorado 81601, USA
When a devastating wildfire ravished the forest around Hanging Lake in early 2021, Colorado residents feared the worst, but somehow, this wondrous lake was spared. Hanging Lake is one of Colorado's crown jewels; it's a lush oasis of brilliant colors and beautiful scenery. The water is given its characteristic turquoise tone due to the presence of dissolving carbonate minerals; and, as if that weren't enough, the lake is surrounded by picturesque waterfalls and dramatic canyon landscape. It's unreal. Hanging Lake is so beloved, in fact, that Colorado State Park officials have instituted a
seasonal permit system
for visiting this stunning natural attraction. It's well worth the wait.
Lake Tahoe - Nevada & California
Lake Tahoe, United States
Lake Tahoe is an American icon. Easily one of the prettiest and most popular lakes in the country, Lake Tahoe sits on the state line between California and Nevada, surrounded by the majestic, snowcapped peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Located at 6,225 feet above sea level, Lake Tahoe is the highest alpine lake in the country, as well as the second deepest. But superlatives aside, it's absolutely ravishing. The cold, crystal-clear waters of this lake are mesmerizing, and really provoke a sense of awe and wonder. Lake Tahoe is often lauded as one of the
most beautiful places in the country
, and it really does deserve each and every word of praise.
Lake Powell - Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah & Arizona
Lake Powell, AZ 86040, USA
Lake Powell is a man-made creation that's a stunning testament to the power of humankind. The result of damming the Colorado River at Glen Canyon along the Utah and Arizona border, Lake Powell is the second-largest reservoir in the country. It's also undeniably one of the prettiest, most pristine lakes in America. The lake's bold, cobalt hue juxtaposed with the deep crimson cliffs and colored canyons of the Southwest will leave you speechless. In some places, the water is so clear that it reflects the sky, so on a sunny day, Lake Powell takes on a stunning, sky-blue hue. While there are many ways to take in the beauty of Lake Powell, there is a
in Arizona that absolutely belongs on any adventurer's bucket list.
Northwest United StatesLake Chelan - Washington
Lake Chelan, Washington, USA
Located squarely in the center of the state, Washington's Lake Chelan looks almost too beautiful to be real. But luckily, it's as real as it gets. Known for its pristine waters, Lake Chelan boasts 50.5 miles of stunning natural beauty and is the gateway to the North Cascades National Park. The third-deepest lake in the U.S., Lake Chelan reaches a maximum depth of 1,486 feet in its Wapato and Lucerne Basins, which were formed by glaciers during the Ice Age. Today, visitors come to revel in its resplendence at the eponymous
Lake Chelan State Park
Lake Coeur d'Alene - Idaho
Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, USA
Lake Coeur d'Alene is the second largest lake in northern Idaho, but there's nothing "second place" about it. The Coeur d’Alene region of Idaho is covered with more than 55 lakes; modern-day remnants from ancient Ice Age glaciers. The crown jewel of this area is the dazzling Lake Coeur d’Alene. This 25-mile-long lake has some of the most startlingly blue waters in the world, which can be enjoyed at one of its superb
. The floating boardwalk at Coeur d'Alene Lake is the largest in the world; and, at 3,300 feet long, offers an unparalleled experience of this lovely lake.
Crater Lake - Oregon
Crater Lake, Oregon 97604, USA
Perhaps the most famous lake in the country,
is a place of otherworldly, almost incomprehensible beauty. At 1,949 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest, cleanest lake in the United States; a pristine pool of alluring azure. The lake’s water is supplied completely from 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. This natural wonder attracts upwards of 750,000 visitors each year and is a place of sublime beauty that truly must be experienced.
These lakes are peak American beauty and showcase 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.
Address: Crater Lake, Oregon 97604, USA Address: Lake Chelan, Washington, USA Address: Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, USA Address: Lake Tahoe, United States Address: Lake Powell, AZ 86040, USA Address: Hanging Lake, Colorado 81601, USA Address: Lake Murray, Oklahoma 73401, USA Address: Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, USA Address: Lake Michigan, United States Address: Apostle Islands, Wisconsin, USA Address: Torch Lake, MI 49648, USA Address: Norris Lake, Tennessee, USA Address: Lake Champlain, Lake Champlain Address: Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, USA