Clearest Lakes in the US: Top 5 Must-see
Looking for the clearest lakes in the US? It’s true: while a day at the lake is always great, some lakes are just better than others.
Water quality, color, and pureness play a great role, affecting not only the panorama, but your ability to enjoy water activities like swimming or fishing.
When your heart is set on crystal clear water, you cannot miss out on these five stunning lakes:
5 Clearest Lakes in the US You Can Visit
1. Crater Lake in Oregon
If you’re looking for the best lake water in the US, Crater Lake should be on top of your list.
The deep blue water of Crater Lake is truly mesmerizing and awe-inspiring. Additionally, you’ll be visiting the deepest lake in the States, with its lowest point almost 2 thousand feet deep.
What makes Crater Lake unique is the island in the middle of it, Wizard Island, a small formation in the middle of the lake, whose shape almost resembles a small volcano emerging from the water.
As the name suggests, the lake is of volcanic origin and the result of an eruption that occurred over 7 thousand years ago.
The lake is blessed with one of the cleanest and most transparent waters in the world, but the altitude makes swimming in it not ideal.
While swimming is permitted in designated areas, the water is usually really cold. The weather itself can be chilly even on a June sunny day, with the possibility of lingering snow up until early July.
Check out weather conditions through the official real-time webcams and plan your trip to Crater Lake when you’re more likely to have great visibility and full road access.
Best activities around Crater Lake:
The best way to experience Crater Lake National Park is to hike and hit one of the many panoramic trails available.
The most popular path is the Garfield Peak Trail, which runs along the lake’s shoreline and eventually leads you to an amazing viewpoint overlooking Crater Lake.
Discovery Point Trail and Watchman Trail are also great if you’re looking for the best views while if you want to reach the island, you have to take the Wizard Island Trail.
If you’re on a road trip or RV camping, you can’t miss out on one of the most scenic routes in the US, the Crater Lake Rim Scenic Drive.
2. Flathead Lake in Montana
The azure blue water of Flathead Lake is nothing short of spectacular.
Immersed at the center of the Flathead National Forest, the lake is framed on one side by the Swan Range and Mission Mountain Range, and the Salish Mountains on the other, making the spectacle of Flathead Lake simply to die for.
This glacier lake is worldwide famous for its picture-perfect waters and attracts thousands of tourists every year, especially during the summer when it’s possible to enjoy water sports.
But what may surprise you about Flathead Lake is the several small islands scattered across the lake, many of which are stunning and completely worth visiting.
Best activities around Flathead Lake
Nature and wilderness lovers must visit Wild Horse Island. The small and wild island is located on the southwest side of the lake and is easily reachable by boat from Dayton or Lindisfarne.
The island is beautiful, and perfect for camping, backpacking, hiking, or kayaking. But Wild Horse Island strongpoint may be, you’ve guessed it, the incredible wildlife.
On the island, you’ll actually be able to observe herds of wild horses, along with local deers and muttons.
A more relaxing way to experience Flathead Lake is to just spend a day at the beach.
The most popular beaches to enjoy the transparent blue lake water are Yellow Bay, Northwest Beach, and Finley Point Beach east, and Somers Park Beach, Volunteer Park Beach, and Big Arm Bay west.
3. Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada
Crystal clear and mesmerizing to see, Lake Tahoe’s water is as clear as it gets. And its turquoise color is no trick: the tap water of the lake is so pure it was judged the best-tasting water in the US.
Surrounded by a deep forest of sugar pines, the lake is the largest mountain lake in North America, and it definitely ranks high on the must-sees of both California and Nevada.
Want to make a difference and keep Lake Tahoe as clean as it is today?
Register here for the next official volunteering action and participate in the annual cleanup of Lake Tahoe shores.
Best activities around Lake Tahoe:
Road trippers and RV lovers, keep this destination in mind.
The road running around Lake Tahoe is one of the most scenic in the US, dotted with overlooks, historical landmarks, museums, boat rentals, horseback riding ranches, and much more.
A couple of mandatory stops? The Mt. Rose Highway Scenic Overlook, the iconic Emerald Bay Lookout, and the golden sand beaches at Sand Harbor.
Hiking and biking trails around Lake Tahoe are just to die for. The choice is virtually endless and none of the trails will disappoint.
If you want to get certified best panoramas, hit the Mount Tallac Trail, a pretty steep and advanced trail, but with views that will reward every effort, or the Eagle Falls Vista Point Loop for a much more relaxing hike, with still great views on the park.
While hiking, backpacking, and camping are popular activities to enjoy nature, Lake Tahoe won’t disappoint you in terms of social activities and local traditions.
From art shoes to music festivals, check out the Lake Tahoe activities calendar and find out what’s going on at the lake today!
4. Hanging Lake in Colorado
Hanging Lake is not just a “top clearest lake” to visit, but a lifetime bucket list destination for travelers, hikers, and nature lovers in general.
Lucky for you, it just reopened to the public on June 25th!
After a short and not excessively steep hike, reaching the Hanging Lake will leave you completely in awe, as the spectacle of the crystal clear water and many little waterfalls opens up before you.
The Hanging Lake is blessed with a truly magical and relaxing atmosphere, even despite being a highly touristic destination.
To avoid mass tourism disrupting the natural environment of the lake, access to the area is restricted and permitted only prior to reservation.
Be sure to call ahead early and reserve your spot on the Hanging Lake Trail.
Best activities around Hanging Lake
The first thing to do is of course to hit the Hanging Lake Trail and reach the lake.
The hike is around 1.2 miles and can be pretty strenuous, especially because of the rocky path, but the view, in the end, is highly rewarding.
Additionally, the whole Glenwood Springs area offers plenty of different activities to fill your time.
Whitewater rafting tours are always available and can make for a really exciting and scenic afternoon.
For biking enthusiasts, you have to check out the Glenwood Canyon Bike Trail. Compared to the hike, this is a pretty effortless trail, nonetheless blessed with stunning views of the Park.
5. Torch Lake in Michigan
Brace yourself for this midwest hidden gem: Torch Lake. The lake is blessed with crystal clear, almost transparent, water, characterized by a light blue color and perfect sandy beaches, making this Michigan lake look almost like a Caribbean destination.
The best way by far to experience Torch Lake is to rent a boat (or a kayak, if you’re up to the task) and reach the amazing Torch Lake Sandbar.
The shoal attracts dozens of tourists daily, as it allows for a more comfortable swimming experience. The rest of the lake is much deeper, and therefore not that great for children or people looking to just relax in the shallow water.
Best activities around Torch Lake:
Watersport enthusiasts will find their mecca in Torch Lake. From waterskiing to paddle boarding, wave running, jet-skiing, tubing, wakeboarding, or kayaking, the lake is fully equipped and ready to provide you with your needed dose of fun and adrenaline.
Not good enough? Adrenaline junkies will “jump” on the opportunity of skydiving over Torch Lake, and admire the sandbar and clear lake water from the best possible viewpoint.
If you’re interested in skydiving, you can check out the Skydive Charlevoix website and book your spot today.
This stunning beach is also a preferred location for partying.
Especially around national holidays, young people from all over Michigan reach the Sandbar by boat, for endless partying and indulging in excessive fun.
If you don’t feel comfortable behind the wheel of a boat, but you still want to enjoy Torch Lake to the fullest, you can book your spot in one of the boat tours or sunset cruises, and admire the lake’s crystal clear water and stunning twilight colors.
Looking for an alternative weekend around Torch Lake, away from the partying on the sandbar?
The lake is also great for camping and fishing, with many campgrounds available in the vicinities of the lake, and a large population of smallmouth bass and lake trout in the waters.