11 Stunning Alpine Lakes In America For Your Outside Bucket Listing

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Posted in Bucket List

May 01, 2022
by Sarah McCosham

There is something very alluring about a beautiful body of water; These natural wonders invite quiet contemplation and encourage all kinds of outdoor recreation. And while that allure can be found in all bodies of water, there is something particularly beguiling and beautiful about alpine lakes. Found in majestic mountain ranges and peaks, these pristine waters are shockingly cold and cobalt blue, reflecting the beauty of their surroundings in a way that would make da Vinci swoon. Of course, beautiful views are always expected from a summit, but the opportunity for a cool dip or a grounding moment in a pristine natural oasis is what makes your typical outdoor excursion a memorable one.

Gem Lake-Washington

Gem Lake, Washington 98045, United States

Washington’s Gem Lake, home to some of the most beautiful parks and peaks in the Pacific Northwest, is a stunning blue pool at the base of Wright Mountain in the Snoqualmie region. A hidden gem that will take your breath away, visitors should expect surreal sunsets with a true ROYGBIV of colour. With views of the Alps and icy blue water that you can actually swim in, Gem Lake is a wonderful Washington oasis in the summer. In winter, when the landscape is snow-capped and blindingly white, it’s a sublime scene that’s more perfect than pictures can capture. Wallowa Lake – Oregon

Wallowa Lake, Oregon 97846, United States

The Wallowas are one of Oregon’s most striking natural wonders. Home to majestic mountains, pristine alpine lakes and verdant forests, there is nothing quite like this mountain range in the PNW. There are numerous hiking trails in the Wallowas, each offering stunning views of the majestic mountains. And while we’re all for lacing up our shoes and hitting the trails, nothing quite compares to the view you get on the Wallowa Lake Tramway. This lift opens for the season in mid-May and is a perennial favorite that’s worth enjoying year after year. This unique streetcar was the steepest quad gondola in all of North America when it was built in 1970; and decades later, it remains a superlative attraction in Beaver State. Admire the view from the top of the aptly named Summit Grill, located at the 8,000-foot elevation of Mt. Howard. And if you can’t bring yourself to leave, stay and enjoy amazing year-round camping at Wallowa Lake State Park. Sawtooth Lake – Idaho

Sawtooth Lake, Idaho 83637, USA

The Sawtooths of Idaho are celebrated for their scenic splendor, and the alpine lakes in this magnificent mountain range are among the most beautiful in the country. Crystal clear, picture perfect and just waiting for a fly rod, Sawtooth Lake is magical in all the right ways. Nestled in a beautiful glaciated hollow, hikers scaling the Sawtooth Lake basin are treated to breathtaking views of Mount Regan; the majestic (and most photographed) mountain in the mountain range, towering over the lake of the same name with great omnipotence. Sawtooth, the region’s largest alpine lake, is sheer grandeur and makes the 10-mile hike worth every step. Hidden Lake – Montana

Hidden Lake, Montana 59936, USA

In the wondrous wilderness of Glacier National Park, Hidden Lake is a pristine alpine lake well worth exploring. With clear, glassy waters revealing glorious depths and reflecting the surrounding alpine scenery, Hidden Lake is a true Treasure State gem. Access to this slice of paradise is relatively easy, requiring a pleasant three-mile hike through glorious mountain scenery. One of the best features of this trail is that the entire length is open and exposed, meaning you’ll enjoy the rolling alpine hills and valleys in a way that rivals Maria’s legendary “Sound of Music” moment. Big Bear Lake – California

Located in the heart of Southern California, high in the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear Lake is a year-round haven of relaxation, adventure and outdoor fun. With 22 glorious miles of perfect alpine seacoast, there are endless opportunities for visitors to experience countless adventures, whether it’s adrenaline pumping water sports or a quieter and more peaceful retreat. With the well-equipped Big Bear Marina, visitors have access to all sorts of adventures and experiences, making this alpine lake one of the best all-around destinations in the country. Lake Tahoe – California and Nevada

Lake Tahoe, United States

Lake Tahoe is an American icon. By far the most beautiful and popular alpine lake in the country, Lake Tahoe sits on the state line between California and Nevada, surrounded by the majestic, snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Located at 6,225 feet above sea level, Lake Tahoe is the highest alpine lake in the country and the second deepest. But superlatives aside, it’s absolutely gorgeous. The cold, crystal clear waters of this lake are mesmerizing and truly inspire a sense of awe and wonder. Often hailed as one of the most beautiful places in the country, Lake Tahoe truly deserves every single word of praise. Mirror Lake – Colorado

Mirror Lake, Colorado 80466, United States

At a staggering elevation of 11,020 feet, Mirror Lake is one of Colorado’s most famous and desirable alpine lakes. But accessing this place of sublime beauty is not for the faint of heart, as the hike is eight grueling miles with an elevation gain of 2,300 feet. However, a look at Mirror Lake will remove all doubts. Sitting 11,000 feet above sea level at the end of a glacier-carved canyon, Mirror Lake is surrounded by verdant forests and granite, often snow-capped peaks. It’s the ultimate nature postcard and the very best reward for your efforts. Lake Blanche-Utah

Lake Blanche, Utah 84121, United States

One of the most accessible alpine lakes in the United States, Lake Blanche nestles in Utah’s Wasatch mountain range at nearly 9,000 feet above sea level. Although the trail is almost seven miles long, it is easily accessible to most hikers; Much of the loop is actually ADA accessible. There is no shortage of scenery en route to this beautiful oasis that meanders past waterfalls and gorges. In a word, Lake Blanche is stunning. You can see Sundial Peak towering over the lake and the fresh air smells of pine trees. During the fall foliage this area takes on a golden splendor that is not to be missed. Spruce Knob Lake – West Virginia

Spruce Knob Lake, West Virginia 26296, USA

Wild and wonderful, West Virginia certainly lives up to its Mountain State nickname. Nestled in the Monongahela National Forest, Spruce Knob Lake is a piece of alpine paradise that rivals anything you would find in the mountains of Europe. At 4,863 feet above sea level, Spruce Knob is West Virginia’s highest peak, and the views in this mountainous region are magnificent. The best way to take it all in is at Alpine Lake Resort, a beautiful destination right on the West Virginia-Maryland border. Guests of this resort are encouraged to kayak or canoe on the lake, take in the beautiful scenery and breathe in the fresh mountain air. If you are looking for a mountain getaway in the middle of the Atlantic then this is for you. Lake of Clouds – New Hampshire

Located in Mount Washington State Park, Lake of the Clouds is one of New Hampshire’s most beautiful natural attractions, despite its difficult access. True to its name, this alpine lake sits over 5,000 feet above sea level, which we think definitely earns it heavenly “cloud” status. This beautiful oasis is actually a series of lakes and ponds between Mount Washington and Mount Monroe and the site of the most popular Appalachian Mountain Club cabin used by hikers looking to spend the night. If you prefer a day-trip adventure on this alpine lake instead, the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail is a three-mile hike that’s one of the most challenging but also most rewarding in the Northeast. Lake Champlain – Vermont

Lake Champlain, Lake Champlain

Once considered the sixth Great Lake, Lake Champlain is of otherworldly beauty. Located on the border of New York and Vermont, Lake Champlain stretches 125 miles and has a maximum depth of 400 feet and is a pristine pool of calm, azure water. Like most Northeast destinations, Lake Champlain has a rich history. The lake itself and the land surrounding it played an integral part in three American wars: the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812; Visitors can learn more about these events at Vermont’s Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. History aside, Lake Champlain is a popular summer destination. The azure waters and soft sand shore are an irresistible attraction. In the winter you can ice skate on Lake Champlain, which is truly a quintessential Northeast experience.

Magnificence is all around us here in America, and these breathtaking alpine lakes (literally) are at the top of our list of most beautiful places to explore.

Address: Mirror Lake, Colorado 80466, United States

Address: Lake Blanche, Utah 84121, United States

Address: Lake Tahoe, United States

Address: Gem Lake, Washington 98045, United States

Address: Wallowa Lake, Oregon 97846, United States

Address: Sawtooth Lake, Idaho 83637, USA

Address: Big Bear Lake, California, United States

Address: Lake Champlain, Lake Champlain

Address: Hidden Lake, Montana 59936, USA

Address: Spruce Knob Lake, West Virginia 26296, USA