The Pacific Northwest has pretty spectacular lakes, but some stand out from the rest. The lakes on this list are the best in the Pacific Northwest for different reasons because they are all so unique. So whether you're looking to go kayaking, swimming, or want to enjoy some time by the water at a resort with friends, these lakes will not disappoint.
Johnson Lake, British Columbia
This turquoise lake is located in the interior of British Columbia and is a popular spot for fishing, kayaking, and swimming. The lakeshore is primarily undeveloped, making it the perfect place to relax and take in the area's natural beauty.
Johnson Lake BC is known as the “Caribbean of the North” and is a popular lakeshore destination for locals and tourists alike. Unfortunately, there are only 12 campsites available, and they are on a first-come, first-served basis, so make sure to reserve your spot in advance if you plan to take in this gorgeous lake overnight.
There are many beautiful lakes in BC, and Johnson Lake is easily in the top three in the province.
Lake Chelan, Washington
Lake Chelan is one of the most popular lakes in Washington and attracts visitors from all over. Lake Chelan is a 50-mile long lake located in the North Cascades region of Washington. The glacier-fed lake is known for its clear, turquoise waters and is a popular spot for swimming, fishing, and boating.
There are several lakeside towns along the shores of Lake Chelan that offer plenty of restaurants, hotels, and lakeside activities. So whether you're looking to kayak or enjoy a relaxing picnic by the lake, Lake Chelan offers something for everyone.
The clear blue waters of Lake Chelan are so inviting, and the best way to see them is to take a helicopter tour of the lake. So if you're looking for a unique lakeside experience, this is the way to go!
Ross Lake, Washington
This beautiful lake is located in the Ross Lake National Recreation Area in Washington and is known for its crystal-clear waters and stunning mountain views. The lake is a popular spot for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing and offers plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing.
Several campgrounds around Ross Lake offer lakeside camping with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. So if you're looking to get away from it all and spend some time in nature, Ross Lake is the perfect spot.
The turquoise waters of Ross Lake are a sight to behold and are worth a visit. Make sure to pack your camping gear and enjoy an overnight lakeside adventure at this beautiful location.
Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Lake Coeur d'Alene is located in northern Idaho and offers some of the best lakeside views in the state. At the end of a long day, you can unwind in one of the world's most beautiful cities at Coeur d'Alene Resort. Conde Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards and Gold List have listed it for its exceptional collection of amenities and the famous 14th hole of the Resort Golf Course, a floating green.
The quaint lakeside town of Coeur d'Alene offers plenty of restaurants, shops, and lakeside activities. If you're looking for a relaxing lakeside getaway, Coeur d'Alene is the place to be. With its beautiful scenery and friendly locals, Lake Coeur d'Alene is one of the best lakes near me in the Pacific Northwest.
Lake Coeur d'Alene boasts the longest floating boardwalk in the world and is worth a visit. Take a walk or bike ride on the boardwalk and enjoy the stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. This lakeside town is sure to charm you with its small-town feel and lakeside beauty.
Crater Lake, Oregon
Located in southern Oregon, Crater Lake is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the Pacific Northwest. The deepest lake in the United States and seventh deepest on earth, Crater Lake, was formed from an ancient volcano that collapsed thousands of years ago after an eruption.
In addition to its deep blue waters surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery, there are also plenty of lakeside activities to enjoy at Crater Lake. There is something for everyone at this beautiful lake, from kayaking and hiking to horseback riding and bird watching.
Crater Lake was formed from a collapsed volcano thousands of years ago, making it one of the oldest lakes in North America. If you're interested in learning more about the history and geology of Crater Lake, be sure to visit the Crater Lake National Park Visitor Center.
Osoyoos Lake, British Columbia
Located in the South Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Osoyoos Lake is a popular lakeside destination for locals and tourists and one of Canada's warmest lakes. The lake offers many lakeside attractions, including biking, hiking, boating, fishing, swimming, golfing, and wine tasting.
At the end of a long day enjoying lakeside activities, be sure to check out some of the local wineries. There are many Okanagan wineries with restaurants to enjoy the wine, the view, and the culinary delights.
Watermark Beach Resort is the most popular hotel accommodation due to its prime location along the waterfront. During the summer, the beach is packed, and the lake is busy with waterskiing and other water sports.
Colchuck Lake, Washington
Colchuck Lake is a beautiful three-hour drive from Seattle, WA, and perfect for escaping city life. Located just 30 minutes from the town of Leavenworth, Colchuck Lake is a serene alpine lake that offers stunning views of Dragontail Peak and Colchuck Peak. The lake is a popular destination for hikers, climbers, and kayakers.
If you're looking for a peaceful lakeside escape, Colchuck Lake is the perfect destination. With its pristine lakeside setting and stunning mountain views, this lake is one of the best lakes in Washington.
However, you must complete a challenging hike to get to Colchuck Lake. This strenuous hike rewards you with crystal clear water but come prepared and come early; the parking lot is often full by 7 AM on weekdays.
Baker Lake, Washington
There are plenty of activities for everyone at this nine-mile reservoir. You can camp, boat or fish with your family while listening to the sounds of nature in peace and quiet; hike along its eastern shoreline on easy trails that lead you over a bridge crossing Baker River.
Follow State Route 20 to the Baker River Highway and beautiful Baker Lake to reach Baker Lake. Recreational activities are year-round at Baker Lake, including hiking in the summer and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.
The 38-mile drive along the scenic western shore of Baker Lake is a must-do for any visitor to this area. The road begins in Concrete and ends at Shannon Creek Campground, where there are many opportunities to stop and enjoy the views.
Emerald Lake, British Columbia
Emerald Lake should be on your list when you are looking for a serene, tranquil, and calm place. This fantastic gem in the Canadian Rockies gets its name because it reflects color from the light like an infinite pool of liquid glass, capturing all colors around it like magic!
Emerald Lake is the perfect destination, with lush green trees surrounding this pristine body of water. The abundant lakeside activities include hiking, kayaking, and swimming in the crystal clear water. Emerald Lake is located inside Yoho National Park and requires a $19 entry fee to visit.
Lake Quinault, Washington
Lake Quinault is a large, glacially-carved lake located in Olympic National Park near the town of Amanda Park. The lake has a maximum depth of 246 feet and is one of the deepest lakes in Washington.
The lake offers excellent fishing for bull trout, kokanee salmon, and Dolly Varden Trout. You must purchase a fishing permit as the Quinault Indian Nation regulates it. Swimming, kayaking, and canoeing are also popular activities on the lake. There is a $15 fee to enter Olympic National Park, which provides access to Lake Quinault and other park attractions.
If you're looking for a beautiful lakeside destination in Washington, be sure to check out Lake Quinault. With its clear water and stunning mountain views, this lake is one of the best lakes in Washington.
The lakeside towns in the Pacific Northwest are some of the most charming around and offer a unique lakeside experience that you won't find anywhere else. So make sure to visit one or all of these lakes during your next trip to the region and enjoy everything they have to offer!
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Casandra is the founder of Karpiak Caravan Adventure Family Travel and a mother to two adventurous young boys. Casandra is a family-focused, adventure travel advocate.
A Toronto native with Danish roots, she became an avid traveler after her first trip to Europe as a college student. Casandra's goal is to provide an educational experience for her family when she travels. When visiting historic sites like D-Day landing beaches in Normandy, or learning about ranch life at a dude ranch on horseback, it’s always a priority to provide an educational experience and to learn about the culture and history of each destination.
You can follow her adventures at karpiakcaravan or get in touch via her social media pages on Facebook and Instagram.