Clearest Lakes in the US to Add to Your Bucket List

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View of Lake Tahoe, one of the clearest lakes in the us

Some of our favorite memories during our adventures were of us sitting on the bank of a lake and taking in the landscape. We live in such a fast-paced world that many of us never take the opportunity to sit and be amazed at the natural beauty around us.

If you’re looking for a place to park and relax, we’ve found some of the clearest lakes in the US worth visiting. Add these lakes to your bucket list, and you’ll have no trouble slowing down to enjoy the landscapes.

Let’s get started!

What Makes Some Lakes Clearer Than Others?

One of the first things you notice about a lake is its color. You’ll find crystal clear lakes inviting you in for a dip and lakes that appear so dirty that you wouldn’t think about getting in without first donning a HAZMAT suit. Some lakes are clearer than others, largely because some lakes have higher algae levels. 

There isn’t just one reason why some lakes are clearer than others. Water clarity will often change seasonally but can also go through changes resulting from storms, wind, and the cycles of fish. Suspended sediments, runoff, erosion, and other factors can also directly affect a lake’s clarity. The clearest lakes often are independent and have ≥. They’ll often collect their water from glaciers and snow melting each season.

10 Clearest Lakes in the US That Are Worth Visiting

If you’re looking for places to add to your bucket list, we’ve found 10 of the clearest lakes in the US. These all offer incredible views that will make you want to pull up a chair and park yourself with a good book for the day. Let’s take a look!

Crater Lake

Location: Oregon

Crater Lake is the deepest and cleanest lake in the entire country. It’s 1,943 feet deep and offers some of the most unforgettable landscapes imaginable. The crystal clear waters reflect the deep blue colors of the sky. Forests of dense pine trees wrap around the lake to spotlight it. The lake is part of a closed water system fed by the immense amount of melting snow and rain from the area.

Standing in front of such a beautiful view may leave you questioning if it’s real. However, we can assure you the pictures you’ve seen of this lake don’t do it justice. You have to experience it for yourself.

Things to Do: We recommend going on a hike, completing the junior ranger program, or driving the 33-mile Rim Drive that circles Crater Lake. You can stop at one of the 30 overlooks that provide a unique view of the lake. The park’s remote location makes it perfect for stargazing, camping, and fishing.

Image of Crater Lake, one of the clearest lakes in the US located in Oregon

Lake George

Location: New York

Lake George is nicknamed “Queen of the American Lakes.” It’s home to over 109 miles of shoreline and over 300 islands. The lake sits in Adirondack State Park and attracts more than 50,000 visitors during the summer. It has a reputation for being not only beautiful but also one of the clearest lakes in the US. 

Things to Do: Lake George is a popular location for water skiing, jet skiing, rafting, kayaking, and many other water-based activities. An RV park not too far away provides a free trolley for visitors to the lake.

Lake Tahoe

Location: California/Nevada

Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America. It reaches a depth of 1,645 feet and sits at an elevation of 6,225 feet above sea level. The water is some of the cleanest in the entire country. Millions of people flock to the lake yearly to experience its natural beauty. The water is so clear that you can see more than 70 feet below the surface. 

Things to Do: Sunbathers line the shores of Lake Tahoe during the summer months, and a few brave souls venture into the chilly waters. The Nevada portion of Lake Tahoe is home to Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, which has some spectacular hiking trails and Sand Harbor Beach. You’ll also find plenty of biking and skiing in winter.

View of Lake Tahoe, one of the clearest lakes in the us

Pro Tip: Before packing your RV for Lake Tahoe, take a look at Where To Camp With Your RV in Lake Tahoe!

Flathead Lake

Location: Montana

At 188 square miles, Flathead Lake in Montana is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. The Swan and Mission mountains surround the lake and provide incredible views for those who want to enjoy the scenery. The lake’s maximum depth is 371 feet, and the lake is one of the 300 largest lakes in the world.

Things to Do: Flathead Lake is the perfect place to enjoy various aquatic activities. Visitors enjoy picnics, boating, sailing, fishing, and many more outdoor activities around the lake during the warmer months. Glacier National Park isn’t too far down the road and is a popular place for those in the area to go and explore.

Newfound Lake

Location: New Hampshire

Newfound Lake is approximately 2.5 miles wide and six miles long. It has a maximum depth of 183 feet and is the deepest lake in the state. It has some of the purest freshwater in the entire state of New Hampshire. Eight underground springs feed the lake and refresh the entire lake twice each year.

Things to Do: Visitors to Newfound Lake spend a tremendous amount of time in Wellington State Park. This is a great place to hike, swim, or take a boat out onto the lake. Visitors enjoy paddling around one of the clearest lakes in the US. You can find kayak rentals at Newfound Audubon Center in Hebron.

Lake Coeur d’Alene

Location: Idaho

Lake Coeur d’Alene is the remains of glaciers from the ice age. This lake provides opportunities for beaches, views, bald eagle sightings, and some of the best sunsets you’ll ever experience. The lake is 25 miles long and averages one to three miles wide. It has more than 135 miles of shoreline, including parks, campgrounds, beaches, trails, and other recreational facilities. Finding a place to enjoy the lake is easy to do!

Things to Do: There’s no shortage of activities at Lake Coeur d’Alene. You can go fishing, boating, or wildlife viewing. Or enjoy the parks, beaches, and trails. You can even explore Tubbs Hill, a 165-acre peninsula with miles of hiking trails. If you’re visiting from November through February, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to see the large population of bald eagles that call the region home.

Lake Chelan

Location: Washington State

Lake Chelan is the gateway to North Cascades National Park. The lake’s maximum depth of 1,486 feet is the third deepest in the country. The lake was formed by glaciers melting during the ice age. The lake may be 50.5 miles long, but it’s very narrow. However, it’s still the largest natural lake in Washington. The lake experiences 300 days of sunshine, and the seasons are noticeably different here.

Things to Do: The area is home to renowned vineyards and beautiful mountain landscapes in the many small towns. If you want to enjoy the lake, there are plenty of opportunities to boat, fish, swim, kayak, paddleboard, and scuba dive. 

Torch Lake

Location: Michigan

Torch Lake is part of a series of 12 lakes and rivers known as the Chain of Lakes. The lake received its name from the Ojibwe Tribe, who used torches to attract fish while fishing at night. It has a turquoise color unlike any in the area. The lake is 19 miles long, has an average depth of 111 feet, and has a maximum depth of 285 feet. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the massive number of pine trees filling the air with fresh scents.

Things to Do: Torch Lake is a popular tourist spot during the summer. However, you’re not going to find the usual gimmicks. The area is simple, and visitors come to enjoy the natural beauty, not buy cheap souvenirs. Visitors enjoy the standard aquatic activities like swimming, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, and paddleboarding.

View of Torch lake, one of the clearest lakes in the US

Hanging Lake

Location: Colorado

If you’re in Colorado and want to experience vibrant turquoise waters, Hanging Lake is a must-visit. However, Hanging Lake Trail is the only way to access the lake. It’s a two- to three-hour grueling hike, but many find it worth the pain and suffering to enjoy one of the clearest lakes in the US. Make sure you snag a permit before hitting the trail! 

The lake is 25 feet long and formed due to a geologic fault that caused the bed to drop away from the valley’s floor. Water flows from Bridal Veil Falls and fills the lake. It provides a beautiful and inspiring view for visitors.

Things to Do: There is plenty to see and do in and around Hanging Lake. There are hot springs, caves, hiking, fishing, and other outdoor activities. Like much of Colorado, the area is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Off-roading, rafting, kayaking, and other outdoor adventures await visitors to the area.

View of hanging lake in Colorado, one of the clearest lakes in the us

Keep in Mind: If you need to talk friends or family to take a trip to Colorado with you, these photos will convince them!

Deer Lake

Location: Minnesota

While there are many Deer Lakes around the country, this particular one is in Minnesota. Its waters are clear primarily because it receives most of its water from rainfall and many underground and surface springs. The lake is more than five miles long and 1.5 miles wide and covers more than 4,000 acres.

With a maximum depth of 121 feet, you’ll find many reefs and rock piles that may be exciting to see but can be dangerous for boaters. The lake has a reputation for changing colors on bright summer days. It will shift from brilliant blue by day to red, pink, orange, and purple as the sun sets.

Things to Do: Like many of the lakes we’ve discussed, visitors to Deer Lake enjoy fishing, boating, canoeing, and kayaking. There are also plenty of golf courses in the area. 

What Is the Largest Clearest Lake in America?

The largest clearest lake in America is Oregon’s Crater Lake. The lake was formed when the 12,000-foot-tall volcano, Mount Mazama, collapsed on itself. Crater Lake has a maximum depth of 1,943 feet and is one of the most mysterious lakes in the country.

The lake is famous for its deep blue waters that come solely from the area’s massive snow melt and seasonal rains. Absolutely no sediment or mineral deposits get carried into the lake, which helps ensure its clarity. 

Bask in the Beauty of America’s Clearest Lakes

Now that you’ve learned a few things about some of the clearest lakes in the US, which ones are you going to visit? There are many places to see and things to do. You’ll have an incredible time checking them off your bucket list. We’ve visited several of these lakes and will add a few to our travel bucket list. We’ll let you know when we check them off our list!

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  1. I find it surprising that you mentioned “Torch Lake” in Michigan – over Higgind Lake, which was once rated by National Geographic as the 6th most beautiful Lake in the world. (Also in Michigan). This lake seems timeless in it’s beauty, with two state parks, camping, scenic shore drives, surrounding forests, great fishing, water sports etc. The various depths, dropoffs & sandbags add to the spectrum of water colors throughout the day, while walking on one of it’s many smooth sandy beaches.

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