From famous names like Lake Tahoe, which straddles the California-Nevada border, to hidden gems such as Oklahoma’s Lake Tenkiller, here are the 20 most beautiful lakes in America, ranked.
20. Lake Eklutna, Alaska
Less than an hour outside Anchorage, Lake Eklutna is an under-the-radar destination that can be explored by hiking, biking, and even by ATV. Kayaking is also popular. It’s located inside Chugach State Park, which spans 495,000 acres of rugged Alaskan terrain.
19. Lake Ouachita, Arkansas
Lake Ouachita (pronounced Wash-ah-taw), the biggest manmade lake in Arkansas, boasts 40,000 acres of pristine water and is a popular destination for fishing, boating, and diving. Development was prohibited along the lake’s 600-mile shoreline, leaving a tree-lined sanctuary that features a geo-float trail— the first water-based interpretive trail in the National Trails System — and one of the world’s largest crystal veins.
18. Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire
Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire’s largest lake, spans 20 miles at the foot of the White Mountains. About 275 islands dot its surface.
On TripAdvisor, one user calls Lake Winnipesaukee the “most beautiful lake in New Hampshire,” while others note that it’s a great destination for activities such as kayaking, boating, and swimming.
17. Lake Martin, Louisiana
Lake Martin — a swampland that’s part of Louisiana’s 9,500-acre Cypress Island Preserve— is equally known for its vegetation and wildlife. Alligators and bird species such as great egrets and roseate spoonbills inhabit this swamp, which is lined with cypress and tupelo trees.
TripAdvisor users recommend touring this “ecological gem” by boat.
16. Geneva Lake, Wisconsin
As a headwater lake, Geneva Lake is fed by natural springs in the surrounding area. It’s known for the 23-mile-long public path that encircles its shoreline. While visitors enjoy water sports in the summer, in the coldest months of the year the lake and eponymous resort town are transformed into a winter wonderland.
In addition to the beauty of the lake itself, TripAdvisor users praise the charming restaurants and shops along the lakefront.
15. Lake Chelan, Washington
Lake Chelan, which spans 50.5 miles, is a popular destination for boating and water sports. Its proximity to the North Cascades also makes it an attractive site for hikers, plus it’s near the region’s wineries.
14. Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho
Lake Pend Oreille is partially located in Sandpoint, Idaho, which Country Living named the best small lake town in America. From there, the lake — the largest in the state — offers breathtaking views of the Cabinet and Selkirk Mountains.
13. Lake Lanier, Georgia
With about 700 miles of shoreline, Lake Lanier — whose water comes from the Blue Ridge Mountains — is the largest lake in Georgia. It was created in 1956 when the Buford Dam connected the Chattahoochee and Chestatee Rivers.
One TripAdvisor user raves that if you haven’t visited this lake, which is located outside Atlanta, “you should put it high on your priority list.”
12. Jenny Lake, Wyoming
Located in Grand Teton National Park, Jenny Lake offers hiking, camping, and boating opportunities against a stunning mountain backdrop.
One TripAdvisor user calls Jenny Lake “wonderfully attractive,” and it’s hard to disagree.
11. Lake Tenkiller, Oklahoma
With nearly 13,000 acres of water and more than 130 miles of shoreline, Lake Tenkiller is a scenic escape in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. From spring to fall, the dogwood forests that surround this manmade lake are enlivened with vibrant foliage.
TripAdvisor users enjoy camping at this “hidden gem,” where you can also scuba dive.
10. Flathead Lake, Montana
Boasting 188 square miles, Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake west of Mississippi. The lake and surrounding area feature a national wildlife refuge and six state parks. One of the parks, Wild Horse Island, spans 21 acres and is home to herds of wild horses and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.
9. Lake Willoughby, Vermont
Lake Willoughby, Vermont’s second-deepest lake after Lake Champlain, has been called the “Lucerne of America” for its fjord-like appearance. It’s also known for its year-round cool temperature. A state park at the southern end of the lake features more than 20 hiking and recreational trails.
8. Lake Jocassee, South Carolina
Lake Jocassee is situated in South Carolina’s Devils Fork State Park. Thanks to the mountain streams and waterfalls that feed the 9,000-acre body of water, it’s cooler than other lakes — which makes it an ideal spot for trout fishing. Those who enjoy hiking can take advantage of the lake’s surrounding trails, where you can see rare Oconee bell wildflowers in the spring.
While one TripAdvisor user praises Lake Jocassee as “one of the most beautiful lakes anywhere,” another calls it “a wonder of the Carolinas.”
7. Lake George, New York
Nicknamed the “Queen of American Lakes,” Lake George is the largest lake in the Adirondacks. Spanning 45 square miles, it’s known for its clear waters — and its islands, of which more than 170 punctuate its surface.
On TripAdvisor, users praise Lake George’s mountain views and lakeside dining and shopping opportunities.
6. Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
Lake Tahoe, North America’s largest alpine lake, is situated in a fault basin on the California-Nevada border in the Sierra Nevada mountains. With an average clarity of 75 feet, you can see deep into its depths. The lake’s maximum depth, however, is 1,640 feet.
According to TripAdvisor users, one of the most scenic places to view Lake Tahoe is California’s Emerald Bay State Park — great vista points abound along Highway 89.
5. Maroon Lake, Colorado
The lake at the base of Colorado’s Maroon Bells — two 14,000-foot peaks in the Elk Mountains — is a sight to behold. Its highly reflective surface offers photographers and sightseers a new perspective on the rock formations.
4. Mono Lake, California
Mono Lake — which is over one million years old — is known for its tufa towers, spires and knobs made from calcium-carbonate. Spanning 65 square miles, this otherworldly lake is popular among photographers and bird-watchers. Due its high salt content, the lake — whose water is denser than the ocean’s — is especially buoyant.
Calling it “mystical” and “alien,” TripAdvisor users agree that Mono Lake is a uniquely beautiful natural site.
3. Lake Powell, Utah/Arizona
Surrounded by the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Lake Powell spans 1,932 miles from southern Utah to northern Arizona. With clear water that flows between orange-colored canyons, Lake Powell boasts an ethereal landscape that attracts more than three million visitors every year.
In addition to hiking and water sports, Lake Powell is also famous for the Rainbow Bridge National Monument, one of the world’s largest natural bridges.
2. Crater Lake, Oregon
At 1,943 feet deep, southern Oregon’s Crater Lake — which was created when a volcano collapsed 7,700 years ago— is the deepest lake in the US and the ninth deepest in the world. In person, this lake is so breathtaking that some TripAdvisor users have encapsulated their thoughts on its beauty in one word, from “stunning” to “wow.”
Crater Lake National Park is also home to a variety of wildlife, ranging from black bears to yellow-bellied marmots.
1. Santeetlah Lake, North Carolina
One TripAdvisor user proclaims that Santeetlah Lake is “possibly the most beautiful lake in North America.” Given that this manmade lake features 76 miles of shoreline and 200 miles of hiking trails, the review is far from unfounded.
Santeetlah Lake is also adjacent to the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest and borders Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Culled from INSIDER.