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.
The United States, though, has incredible lakes all over the country, with stunning mountain ranges encircling or backing the views.
Grinnell Lake – Glacier NP – Montana
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
It’s not just the west coast and Pacific Northwest that boast 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
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
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
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 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
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 NP – Montana
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
If incredible views, breath-taking hikes, and impressive waterfalls are your thing, then hiking to Alice Lake in the Sawtooth Wilderness will be on 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 NP – Montana
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
Colorado boasting of 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
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 being 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
Formed when Mount Mazama erupted some 8000 years ago, Crater Lake in Oregon is one of the nations 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 keep them there.
Lake McDonald – Glacier NP – Montana
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 traverses 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.