America's Greatest Lakes
Collected by Kim Fortson , AFAR Contributor
From the East Coast to the West, the United States boasts a collection of lakes as diverse and beautiful as the lands that surround them.
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830, USA
When I dream of travel destinations, amusement parks seldom make the wish list; however, there is magic to stumble upon. While visiting friends in the Orlando area, I found myself on an adventure between the parks. A wish to try the famous Dole...
631 Coyote St, Nevada City, CA 95959, USA
There are few things I love more than a sunset at the lake. Beautiful view, crisp air and calm water. There are hundreds of alcoves along Lake Tahoe, just drive around and you are sure to find the perfect spot to pull off and walk down to the...
5300 N Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78730, USA
Okay, so I've never seen someone actually pull off the "hang ten" maneuver (when the surfer walks to the front of the board and hangs all ten toes over the nose of the board) while wake surfing, but surfing is still a popular pastime on Lake ...
Lake Powell, United States
My uncle and I stood with my tripod on the lakeshore behind our houseboat, trying desperately to capture the massive red rock wall before us. It was one of my first lessons in night photography, and it wasn't going great: there just wasn't enough...
Diablo Lake, Washington 98283, USA
In the summer, take at least a couple of days to drive the North Cascades Loop — four hundred miles of alpine splendor just to the northeast of Seattle, just south of the Canadian border. At Diablo Lake, pull off the highway and check out the...
Great Salt Lake, Utah, USA
The Great Salt Lake doesn't support any aquatic life, save some brine shrimp (yes, sea monkeys) and the birds that feed on them. Despite the desolation it is a beautiful place, however. My friends and I headed out to Antelope Island for a hike and...
Amphitheater Lake, Wyoming 83414, USA
On a brief visit with my brother in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, we hiked up to Amphitheater Lake in the Teton range. It was gorgeous! It was kind of a strenuous hike (especially if you're coming from sea level like I did), but well worth the climb. The...
28031 Big Arm State Park Rd., Big Arm, MT 59901, USA
Gorgeous landscapes appear to stretch in every direction. Montana is quite the beautiful state, and it is filled with more wild life than I have seen on many of my travels combined. Bear, Elk, Bald Eagle, Wild Horse, and Bison... just to name a...
Schroon Lake, NY 12870, USA
On my way to Montreal, I turned off on the NY thruway in search of gas in the town of Schroon Lake. I was captivated by the beauty of the large, clear lake as we approached the town. If it wasn't 20 degrees outside, I might have jumped in. Perhaps...
I've seen pictures, I've heard stories, but when I actually saw Crater Lake with my own eyes, all I could think was "Is this for real?!?!" Yes - water is THAT blue, clean and clear Yes - you feel like you're on a different planet YES - it will...
6550 Comanche Trail, Austin, TX 78732, USA
Seriously, almost every night, you can enjoy a perfect sunset here. This is one money-maker, an enormous restaurant on a hilltop overlooking Lake Travis, outside Austin. The Oasis. The drinks are cold, and there's lots of room; the drinks are...
Goat Lake, Washington, USA
Both residents and visitors to the Pacific Northwest bemoan the region's seemingly eternal grey skies...But summer turns things around. By July, sun is (almost) reliable and the outdoors pulls you away from the indoor pursuits of bookstores and...
200 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704, USA
3901 Packer Lake Rd, Sierra City, CA 96125, USA
Mono Lake, California 93541, USA
Driving south from Reno, Nev., my then-fiancée and I were slightly anxious. We were on our way to the wedding of one of Kate’s best friends to a Patagonia-sponsored rock climber who had completed first ascents and other impressive feats throughout...
Coulee City, WA 99115, USA
I'd lived in Seattle for a couple of years before having the chance to explore 'East of the Mountains.' The everlasting rains of the Pacific Northwest seem like a distant memory when you cross the Cascade mountain range into eastern...
Dexter, ME 04930, USA
Before a summer sunrise, Lake Wassookeag, Maine. People who live around here say that in the winter and spring, you can hear the lake freeze and thaw. No chance of that on a mid-summer morning, but what a thought--the sound, creaking and groaning,...
4135 W Lake Harriet Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55410, USA
The Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis is a popular summer spot, but it also provides some of the best leaf-peeping around in the fall. The sailboats outside the band shell on Lake Harriet speak of lingering summer days, but the vivid leaves are a...
7900 Green Lakes Rd, Fayetteville, NY 13066, USA
Spend an entire day at Green Lakes, with its crystalline water and abundance of trees. Biking and walking down the nature trails, hiking, fishing, and purchase some food to enjoy on a blanket or at a picnic table are only some of the options the...
Hume Lake, California 93628, USA
Along a windy road in Sequoia's National Park you may see a sign for Hume Lake. It won't be a big sign, and if you're not looking for it, you'll think it's just one of many lakes along the winding roads thru the great Sequoia's park. This one gets...
Lake St, Louisiana 71254, USA
Whenever I read about a summer home on a lake, I generally have a vision in my head but never thought of the lake as something spectacular. Seeing a sunset where you are in the middle of rural cornfields and slow-paced life, however, I am getting...
Pinedale, WY 82941, USA
It was our final night of fun after three days of interacting with the locals of Pinedale, WY. The stars were amazing so we decided to check them out at a lake we had yet to see. A glow from the small town crept over the distant horizon and faded...
5281 Route 44-55, Kerhonkson, NY 12446, USA
Five miles east of Route 299 in New York lies Minnewaska State Park, a preserve well over 20,000 acres. One of the highlights is Lake Minnewaska, which offers easy walking and hiking trails for both the novice and the experienced. Open year round,...
Lake Vermilion, Minnesota, USA
On a weekend visit to friends with no road access to their cabin on Lake Vermilion, we started our visit at the public boat landing where they picked us up on their pontoon. Any vacation that starts with a pontoon shuttle has to be great!
Watson Lake, Prescott, AZ 86301, USA
This place is a wonderful surprise just 4 miles northeast of downtown Prescott, Az. The lake was formed by a dam in the 1900's, and the granite dells that surround the lake, and are in the lake are amazing. Not well known, but just of Hwy 89A it...
Lake Charles, LA, USA
In the early 1800's, French pirate Jean Lafitte had a rocking business plundering ships and smuggling the cargo into needy areas of New Orleans, like Robin Hood with a soupcon more swashbuckling. Lafitte was alternately hunted and utilized by the...
May Lake, California, USA
But you can't make it swim. This summer, my parents took my younger brother and I to May Lake, a High Sierras camp in Yosemite. The weather was gorgeous, the company was fine, and our parents were completely disappointed in our lack of interest in...
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