The 13 Most Beautiful Mountain Lakes In The United States To Visit in 2024

Crater Lake in Oregon
© Wollertz/Shutterstock.com

Written by Sandy Porter

Updated: January 12, 2024

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We could start with a map of Glacier National Park and call it on this list of gorgeous mountain lakes. Nearly every mountain peak backdrops some incredible body of water – many of which pool near glaciers. Many are accessible only via backcountry hiking (backpacking) or horseback. Others through an easy drive or boat ride and short hike.

Discover 13 of the most beautiful mountain lakes in the entire United States.

The United States, though, has incredible lakes all over the country, with stunning mountain ranges encircling or backing the views.

Grinnell Lake – Glacier National Park – Montana

Grinnell Glacier at Glacier National Park, Montana.

Grinnell Glacier at Glacier National Park, Montana, a backcountry lake well worth the hike.

©iStock.com/JeanMarieBiele

Speaking of Glacier NP, Grinnell Lake is one of the most popular day-trip experiences in the park for a reason. The moderate hike or relaxing boat ride to get there, and the sparkling turquoise waters when you arrive draw in the crowds. You’ll do a partial hike or a full hike, depending on your penchant. After, you’ll arrive at the beautiful, icy cold ripples of Lake Grinnell, runoff from the Grinnell Glacier.

On the way, you’ll pass through Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine, as well, adding stunning to spectacular on your adventure to this incredible mountain lake found in Montana.

Finger Lakes – New York

Keuka Lake

A view of Honeoye Lake, one of the Finger Lakes, New York.

©iStock.com/pawtraitd

It’s not just the West Coast and Pacific Northwest that boasts of incredible mountain lakes. In fact, some of the most accessible and beautiful options exist on the east coast. The Finger Lakes in New York offer the perfect combination of comfort, beauty, and adventure in the same area. Here, you don’t need a backpack. As the most popular destination in Upstate New York, the Finger Lakes offer picturesque views of waterfalls, parks, pristine beaches, and comfortable lodging to enjoy while you stay – no tent necessary. You can, of course, opt for camping, too, if you prefer. Plus, take a day trip around visiting the 100+ wineries and vineyards in the surrounding area.

Lake Powell – Utah / Arizona Line

Lake Powell

Lake Powell at sunset as the golden sun sinks behind the red sandstone mountains.

©Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock.com

Though they’re not your typical green mountains, Lake Powell is surrounded by beautiful, red clay mountains that add dramatic backdrops. The human-made lake is filled with impossibly blue water, run through the red sandstone banks. Enjoy beaches all summer long, as well as fishing and other water sports that rival any in the country.

Lake Blanche – Utah

Wasatch Mountains in spring

One of the very first Mormon settlements in Utah was in the foothills of Bountiful Peak of the Northern Wasatch Mountains, resting above Lake Blanche.

©Abbie Warnock-Matthews/Shutterstock.com

A nearly endless world of natural beauty in all forms, Utah also boasts some of the most impressive mountain lakes in the country. Lake Blanche is one such natural attraction, with stunning backdrop mountains from the Twin Peaks Wilderness Area slipping skyward behind. Enjoy hiking, picnics, and other family-friendly activities in the stunning wilderness.

Lake Tahoe – California / Nevada

Lake Tahoe Sierra Nevada, California, USA

Lake Tahoe boasts amazing skiing, a lake monster, and endless fishing options, with an array of other outdoor activities for the entire family.

©iStock.com/CelsoDiniz

Perhaps one of the most famous lakes in the USA, Lake Tahoe also happens to be one of the most accessible and beautiful mountain lakes in the nation. The crystal clear waters and a plethora of popular water sports and local activities help make Lake Tahoe more than “just” an impressive body of water. The whole region welcomes visitors from all over the world every summer.

Lake Champlain – Vermont / New York

Lake Champlain, Vermont

Lake Champlain bridges the border between Vermont and New York.

©Mark Castiglia/Shutterstock.com

At one time, Lake Champlain was considered the Sixth Great Lake. Bridging the border between  Vermont and New York, this stunning body of water stretches some 125 miles, with a depth of 400 feet in some spots. The cerulean waters lap against the shores of Burlington, VT, one of the state’s most well-known cities. You’ll find classic New England history and beautiful scenery surrounding the lake. Plenty of family-friendly activities welcome you and yours as you take in the local ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s was founded in Burlington!) and other summery activities and delights.

Saint Mary Lake – Glacier National Park – Montana

St. Mary Lake

St. Mary Lake offers incredible mountain lake views unsurpassed by any other in Glacier NP.

©Evelyn D. Harrison/Shutterstock.com

Tucked into the panoramic postcard views of Glacier National Park, Saint Mary Lake offers stunning beauty to all who will gather near. The second largest lake within the park’s bounds, the beautiful lake welcomes swimmers (though, it’s chilly!), boaters, and water sports participants of nearly every type. Spend the day hiking around the lake, enjoying the nearly 10-mile trail, or a longer trail nearby, take a boat tour, or lounge on the beach, basking in the sun as it bounces off the shimmering waters.

Alice Lake – Idaho

Alice Lake Idaho

Alice Lake shimmers in the clear sun as the bright, clear water reflects the mountains of the Sawtooth Range.

©iStock.com/christiannafzger

If incredible views, breathtaking hikes, and impressive waterfalls are your thing, then hiking to Alice Lake in the Sawtooth Wilderness will be your next great adventure plan. The cascading falls and stunning peaks along the hike to the lake are only part of the attraction to the incredible lake. Hike, backpack, or participate in any of the other outdoor activities here for an unforgettable adventure.

Avalanche Lake – Glacier National Park – Montana

Avalanche Lake, Montana

Avalanche Lake is on the western edge of Glacier National Park in Montana.

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Located on the western edge of Glacier National Park, Avalanche Lake in Montana is another one of the most enticing mountain lakes in the country. The beautiful lake is accessible by a two-mile hike along the Trail of the Cedars. Reflecting mountain ranges and filled with snowmelt, the lake remains a pristine point of beauty throughout the year. Camp near the lake, if you like, in one of the many campsites; just beware of Grizzly bears that roam the forest.

Maroon Lake, Colorado

Maroon Lake Aspen Colorado

A wide-angle autumn midday view of snow-coated Maroon Bells reflecting in crystal clear Maroon Lake, Aspen, Colorado, USA.

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Colorado has some of the most incredible scenery in the country. Thanks to the Rocky Mountain National Park, Garden of the Gods, Pike’s Peak, Royal Gorge, and Great Sand Dunes National Park, it’s no surprise one of their lakes shows up on this list. Maroon Lake, specifically, reflecting the peaks of Maroon Bells, offers one of the most photographed and beloved locations for vacationers in Colorado. Hike, drive, or take a bus to the lake for moderately easy access. Camp out nearby and enjoy the views longer, or make it a day trip.

Lake Eklutna, Alaska

Aerial view of Alaska's Lake Eklutna

Lake Elutnka is located in Alaska’s Chugach State Park.

©Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock.com

Just an hour north of Anchorage, Alaska, Lake Eklutna is one of the most incredible, wild mountain lakes you’ll ever visit. With more than 15 miles of shoreline and some of the pristine waters of any lake in the United States, you’ll understand the attraction. While it is popular, it’s less crowded than many other lakes. Farther off the beaten path for most tourists, it’s still on the quieter side. Nearby camping, salmon and trout fishing, picnic areas, boat rentals, and much more help you enjoy the lake in all of its incredible beauty each summer.

Crater Lake – Oregon

Crater Lake in Oregon

Crater Lake in Oregon is the deepest lake in the United States.

©Wollertz/Shutterstock.com

Formed when Mount Mazama erupted some 8000 years ago, Crater Lake in Oregon is one of the nation’s most popular attractions. When you look at the stunning beauty surrounding this land-locked lake, you understand why. Pristine waters fill the lake continually as rain and snow melt and pool in the crater. Going nearly 1950 feet in depth in some places, it’s an incredible sight. Sunlight penetrates as deep as 400 feet, giving the incredible appearance of near crystalline waters. Swimming, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and similar water sports draw in the crowds, while the awesome scenery keeps them there.

Lake McDonald – Glacier National Park – Montana

Lake McDonald

Colorful pebbles dot the beach of Lake McDonald, sunset or not.

©iStock.com/XIN WANG

The largest lake in Glacier, Lake McDonald is one of the biggest attractions of the park, as well. Visible from the Going-to-the-Sun road, the path for motor vehicles that traverse throughout the national park, it is one of the easiest mountain lakes to visit and has become one of the most photographed lakes in the world. Come hike, bring the kids, picnic, or enjoy water sports any time this summer.

Summary Of The 13 Most Beautiful Mountain Lakes In The United States To Visit This Summer

RankMountain LakeLocation
1Grinnell LakeGlacier National Park, Montana
2Finger LakesNew York
3Lake PowellUtah / Arizona Line
4Lake BlancheUtah
5Lake TahoeCalifornia/Nevada
6Lake ChamplainVermont / New York
7Saint Mary LakeGlacier National Park, Montana
8Alice LakeIdaho
9Avalanche LakeGlacier National Park, Montana
10Maroon LakeColorado
11Lake EklutnaAlaska
12Crater LakeOregon
13Lake McDonaldGlacier National Park, Montana

Honorable Mention: Other Beautiful Lakes in the United States

Views of the Jenny and Jackson Lakes in the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

At the base of the Teton Range in Grand Teton National Park, Jenny Lake is one of the most popular and visited lakes.

©Oscity/Shutterstock.com

There is no shortage of beautiful lakes in the United States and choosing just one, or thirteen, can be difficult. Each one has its own unique characteristics and offers something different. Take a look at these additional locations that will have you planning a road trip to discover more:

  • Lake Ouachita – located in Lake Ouachita State Park, Arkansas, this reservoir is the largest lake in the state and not only offers 40,000 acres of clear, clean water surrounded by the scenic Ouachita National Forest but has 200 islands to explore by boat. There is minimal development along its 975 miles of remote shoreline and in addition to the state park, there are numerous resorts and lodges ready to welcome you.
  • Lake Winnipesaukee – the largest lake in New Hampshire is located in the Lakes Region in the foothills of the White Mountains. This 21-mile lake has an abundance of wooded shoreline as well as a spring-fed lake that offers crystal clear swimming. There are plenty of activities for everyone, including a nature preserve, boating, beaches, hiking, and year-long events.
  • Geneva Lake – located in the southeastern portion of Wisconsin, this body of freshwater is surrounded by incredible things to see and do, from shopping in nearby Lake Geneva and relaxing at the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa to adventures in hiking, zip-lining, and hot air ballooning, this is certain to be a haven of great memories.
  • Jenny Lake – located in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, this is one of the most popular and visited lakes of the national park. It can be found at the base of the Teton Range and at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center you can learn about its history. There are numerous hiking trails around the lake to choose from, as well as boating, camping, and even the Grand Teton Lodge, which offers beautiful views from log cabins.


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About the Author

Sandy Porter is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering house garden plants, mammals, reptiles, and birds. Sandy has been writing professionally since 2017, has a Bachelor’s degree and is currently seeking her Masters. She has had lifelong experience with home gardens, cats, dogs, horses, lizards, frogs, and turtles and has written about these plants and animals professionally since 2017. She spent many years volunteering with horses and looks forward to extending that volunteer work into equine therapy in the near future. Sandy lives in Chicago, where she enjoys spotting wildlife such as foxes, rabbits, owls, hawks, and skunks on her patio and micro-garden.

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