The 10 Best Swimming Lakes in the United States

Written by Taiwo Victor
Updated: May 28, 2022
© Colton lee garcia/Shutterstock.com
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Each year, millions of people across the United States seek out summer adventures at rivers, lakes, oceans, and other bodies of water to swim and relax in. There’s no doubt that beautiful large lakes look inviting – clear blue waters surrounded by gorgeous sands, sometimes with picturesque mountainous backdrops. They make the perfect swim spot for people looking for that calm, relaxing experience. Unfortunately, some lakes are much more deadlier than you think. They may contain harmful algae or be contaminated with animal waste, or worse, they move with a current too fast to keep up with. So before you jump into any lake to swim, you have to be sure that it is safe for you to do so. 

Hence, we bring to you our carefully selected list of the best swimming lakes to visit in the United States –every lake on this list promises you nothing but the best swimming experience!

Lake Tahoe, California 

Lake Tahoe Sierra Nevada, California, USA
Lake Tahoe is the largest Alpine lake in North America.

©iStock.com/CelsoDiniz

The largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe is not just another picturesque destination, it is also a perfect spot for a relaxing swim. Covering over 120,000 acres of land between California and Nevada, its crystal clear deep blue waters, waterfront cities, and snowy mountain peak backdrops make it an ideal vacation destination for every fun-lover. Though the water in this Californian lake stays cold most of the year, this has not stopped hundreds of tourists from trooping to swim in Sand Harbor Beach, up in northern Lake Tahoe.

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake is one of the clearest bodies of water.

©Pung/Shutterstock.com

A crater created by a massive volcano that erupted thousands of years ago eventually formed the deepest lake in the United States, the Crater Lake, which reaches a depth of about 1943 ft. It is also one of Oregon’s largest lakes —covering a surface area of 13,180 acres. With an island at its center which was once the area’s tallest peak, you can find this lake located within the Crater Lake National Park. The calm, cool waters are perfect for a relaxing swim during the summer heat. The stunning Crater Lake is surrounded by Oregon’s mountain range and is considered to be one of the clearest bodies of water on Earth!

Newfound Lake, New Hampshire

Newfound Lake in New Hampshire
Newfound Lake is the deepest and clearest lake in new Hampshire.

©Alison Leyton/Shutterstock.com

New Hampshire’s deepest and clearest lake, Newfound Lake, offers amazing swimming opportunities with scenic views of the surrounding forest. Stretching over 4,000 acres and 22 miles of shoreline, there are plenty of other nearby attractions to explore on this beautiful lake, including lighthouses, nature preserves, and small waterfront towns. On a visit to Newfound lake, you also get the chance to swim at Wellington State Park, the largest freshwater swimming beach in the state of New Hampshire.

Flathead Lake, Montana

Flathead Lake
Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River.

©iStock.com/11jasons

With more than 185 miles of shoreline, Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. Because of its proximity to the cold climate, the best time to visit for a dip is usually late spring through early fall, when the temperature of the water is good enough for swimming. Aside from being one of the best swimming lakes in Montana, Flathead Lake also offers recreational opportunities including boating, camping trail rides, horseback riding lessons, and many more.

Lake Santeetlah, North Carolina

©digidreamgrafix/Shutterstock.com

Lake Santeetlah is a freshwater swimming lake located near the Indian Lakes Scenic Byway, with about 80% of the 76 miles of its shoreline within the Nantahala National Forest. If you’re looking for a free-entry swimming lake that’ll guarantee you a tranquil experience, then this lake should be on your to-do list. Keep in mind that the best area for swimming is the Cheoah Point Recreation Area, with clean waters and plenty of fun activities for tourists to explore. 

Lake Texoma, Oklahoma & Texas

Lake Texoma is one of the largest lakes in Oklahoma.

©iStock.com/asiantiger247

Grab the chance to swim in two states on the same day by visiting Lake Texoma, a large body of water that stretches from the southern edge of Oklahoma into the state of Texas. The lake covers about 89,000 acres, making it one of the largest lakes in Oklahoma offering enough room for everyone to enjoy a wide range of outdoor recreation. As far as fun lakes go, this lake is one to put on your list of best swimming lakes to visit with friends or family.

Lake Chelan, Washington 

Surrounded by thick forests, small towns, and mountains, Lake Chelan is one of Washington’s finest lakes.

©iStock.com/jmacarthur

The largest natural lake in Washington, Lake Chelan, is a beautiful swimming lake with an extensive shoreline stretching out over 100 miles. Undoubtedly one of Washington’s finest, Lake Chelan is surrounded by thick forests, small towns, and mountains. Most tourists visit to swim in the pristine waters of the lake, as well as to explore the surrounding state parks, and spectacular views in every direction. You should also know that some sections of the lake can only be accessed by hiking.

Rainy Lake, Minnesota 

Rainy Lake is located within the popular Voyageurs National Park.

©Ken Lund / flickr – License

Minnesota, “the land of lakes” boasts of at least 10,000 lakes. One of the state’s most beautiful lakes is located within the popular Voyageurs National Park —this is no other than the spectacular Rainy Lake. Rainy Lake is a popular tourist destination for swimming and other recreational activities. It has about 930 miles of shoreline that you can spend hours swimming along. There are also hundreds of other small islands located amongst its waters –perfect for swimming. Because you’ll find this lake right on the border of Canada, try to find out about border crossing rules if you’re taking boats. 

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri 

Lake of the Ozarks

©iStock.com/scgerding

The Lake of the Ozarks is the most popular warm-weather destination in the entire state of Missouri. It is a man-made lake located among the Ozark mountain range with over 1,000 miles of shoreline stretching out in every direction, which makes it an ideal swimming lake. You can also enjoy the lake by visiting the Lake of the Ozarks State Park, which houses two long sandy beaches and a variety of amenities, hiking trails, and access to incredible views of the beautiful lake.

Lake Crescent, Washington 

Lake Crescent is one of the best swimming lakes in the United States.

©FloNight (Sydney Poore) and Russell Poore / Creative Commons – License

You can find Lake Crescent sitting pretty in the temperate rainforest of the Olympic National Park in Washington. The park has about 100 houses and there’s even a fairly flat trail for hikers to cool off when swimming. The waters of Lake Crescent are beautiful and blue; some swimmers report that it is so clear that they can see deep into the water! Add visiting this lake to your bucket list and you can guarantee yourself an enjoyable experience.


The Featured Image

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Lake of the Ozark in Missouri
© Colton lee garcia/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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