Houseboats during sunrise near Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell. Image credit Paul Brady Photography via Shutterstock.

12 Crystal-Clear Lakes In The United States You Have To See

It is not very often that one encounters sublime natural beauty. Day-to-day life can become monotonous, leaving us feeling bleak and dull. Now and then, we need a wake-up call, and sometimes, that wake-up call arrives in the form of the breathtaking beauty of our exquisite planet. Water is, in itself, an intriguing natural resource. Too often, it becomes sullied with human activities, drained of its organic beauty through oil spills and pollution from idle garbage runoff. But not everything is too spoiled just yet—some staggering landscapes and reservoirs remain that will revitalize a profound graciousness for the surrounding Earth. These are some of the country's most crystal-clear lakes that visitors must see to believe!

Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada

Lake Tahoe's rocky shoreline on a sunny day,
Lake Tahoe's rocky shoreline on a sunny day.

The first beautiful crystal lake on our list is one of the most famous—movies, and TV fans are likely to have already seen it from the comfort of their home! That is because these aquamarine clear waters of stunning Lake Tahoe have been featured as a backdrop for several movies and TV shows; blockbusters such as Top Gun Maverick and The Godfather Part 2 both feature this wonder of nature.  Along with being a top choice for film location scouters in California, Tahoe is also the largest freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada area. At 122,160,280 acre-feet, only the five Great Lakes are larger by volume.

Lake George, New York

Passenger steamboat carrying tourists on a cruise to see the sights of the Lake George
Passenger steamboat cruise on Lake George. Image credit splash via Shutterstock.

Lake George is a majestic body of water located in the infamous  Adirondack Mountains of New York, a vacation destination for outdoor enthusiasts with activities that cater to all ages and interests. The lake is home to many aquatic creatures, including angular fish, who consider Lake George their paradise. Hundreds of other fish swim through the waves, including bass, walleye, panfish, Northern pike, and lake trout. This is likely due to the structural environmental regulations and management that allowed the wildfire to flourish, placing it at the top of the list as one of the cleanest lakes in the country. It is no wonder that it is so magnificent and crystal clear!

Hanging Lake, Colorado

Woman admiring Hanging Lake, Glenwood Canyon, Colorado
Woman admiring Hanging Lake, Glenwood Canyon, Colorado.

Hanging Lake resembles something out of a fairytale. Its green, nearly teal shade of water appeals to any hiker or adventurer exploring the Glenwood Canyon area in Colorado. The shoreline, composed of glossy travertine, is somewhat fragile, forged from the dissolved limestone from the Mississippian Period Leadville Limestone (a Mississippian geologic formation in the western United States). What makes this particular lake even more mythical? The 1.2-mile, steep, and rigorous trail surrounding it, whose cascading pure waters hang off the edge of a cliff. 

Newfound Lake, New Hampshire

Panoramic view of Newfound Lake and Follansbee Cove near Wellington State Park.
Panoramic view of Newfound Lake and Follansbee Cove near Wellington State Park.

Look no further for one of the cleanest bodies of water in the country: Newfound Lake in New Hampshire is fed by a whopping eight freshwater springs that feed its source, and with zero artificial elements surrounding it, it is naturally protected from harmful pollutants. It is home to 22 fish species, with miles of shoreline and little islands that can be ventured onto via land or water. The beauty of Newfound Lake is undeniable; its untouched, dazzling, clear waters are a consistent attraction for those seeking serenity and an escape all rolled into one.

Flathead Lake, Montana

Aerial view of islands and distant mountains in Flathead Lake, Montana on calm summer morning.
Aerial view of islands and distant mountains in Flathead Lake. 

With over 200 square miles of water and 185 miles of shoreline, Flathead Lake is the largest lake west of the Mississippi in the lower 48 states, settled at the base of the Swan and Mission Mountain ranges. The splendid turquoise jewel plays a part in the rich history of Montana folklore,  contains quaint islands, and boasts access to epic fishing stations. It is home to gorgeous wild horses who roam the islands that are only accessible by boat. The southern portion of Flathead Lake is a part of the Flathead Indian Reservation, which is home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes. Please note that a tribal recreation permit is required to explore this lake area. 

Torch Lake, Michigan

Aerial view of Torch Lake's sandbar with many boats
Aerial view of Torch Lake's sandbar.

A photographer’s daydream is found at Torch Lake, Michigan, with its tropical shades emulating an exotic paradise and waters pristine as glass. National Geographic ranked it the third most beautiful lake in the world in the early 2000s. With just a single glance at Torch Lake, it is not difficult to imagine why this lake ranks so highly! Many species of pine trees surround the striking waters, the scent often overwhelming for tourists and homegrown visitors alike. It is so famously bewitching that even a few noteworthy celebrities have second homes on the lake, such as Taylor Swift, Kid Rock, Oprah, and Eminem. 

Lake Powell, Arizona/Utah

Houseboats during sunrise near Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell
Houseboats during sunrise near Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell. Image credit Paul Brady Photography via Shutterstock.

The incredible Lake Powell is a body of water that spans two states, beginning in Northern Arizona and ending in Southern Utah, part of the Colorado River in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The scenery is magical, with immaculate cobalt waters bending around imposing, curved cliffs. Sunshine hangs out most of the year, meaning the water rests at a swimmable temperature no matter the season, making visits here very accessible! Lake Powell is one of the most popular areas for house boating due to the impressive terrain, one of Utah's finest red-rock desert countries.

Lake of Ozark's, Missouri 

Aerial view of the fall color of Lake Ozark and the castle ruins at Missouri
Aerial view of the fall color of Lake Ozark and the castle ruins.

Missouri’s most famous lake destination has more than 1,100 miles of shoreline, which is more than the shoreline that runs along the coast of California. Explore the natural allure of undeveloped waters and seaside, including a tropical cove, campsites, and a picnic area overlooking the entirety of the stellar body of water. The serpentine-like shape earned the reservoir a fantastical nickname of ‘the Missouri Dragon.’ This has inspired several local institutions, like a car rally show titled ‘The Magic Dragon Street Meet.’ 

Lake Murray, Oklahoma 

Aerial view of the Tucker Tower of Lake Murray
Aerial view of the Tucker Tower of Lake Murray.

One of the state's best-kept secrets lies in South Central Oklahoma: Lake Murray State Park in Ardmore. This glistening lake is known for being part of the state's largest park (of the same name) and housing one of the most transparent and cleanest bodies of water. The water is spring-fed and beyond safe to swim in. Named after Oklahoma Governor William ‘Alfalfa Bill Murray, the lake was created during President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Murray accepted a proposed project that would give additional work to those suffering during the Great Depression. Today, it is a thriving area of awe, with various lodgings, campsites, and even floating cabins available for tourists. 

Crater Lake, Oregon

Fishing in Cleetwood Cove in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Fishing in Cleetwood Cove in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon.

Just as the name implies, Crater Lake in Oregon appears as a large, blue-marbled crater embedded into the depths of the Earth. It is encased by magnificent mountains, which draw the eye to the core of a deep, midnight blue hue. Beyond its mirrorlike, polished surface, Crater Lake remains a marvel for several reasons. First, it is the deepest lake in the country, with a maximum measured amount of an astounding 1,949 feet. It also has the peculiar trait of having no bodies of water that flow into it. Rainfall, melting snow, and evaporation balance the water levels, making it one of the few lakes without any inward flow. Capture these vivid colors and quickly snap a tapestry of a photo worth hanging in a frame. 

Norris Lake, Tennessee

View of Norris Lake, created by the Norris Dam at the Cove Creek Site
View of Norris Lake, created by the Norris Dam at the Cove Creek Site

There are abundant outdoor activities available at Norris Lake, especially regarding fishing. Whether novice or seasoned fishermen, visitors will want to indulge in the abundance of present sea life, such as bass, crappie, catfish, and striped bass. The smooth, clear surface of the waters makes the site appealing for kayakers, paddle boarders, boaters, and swimmers. It is tucked into the Linch and Powell Valleys and surrounded by endless acres of wooded land and glorious mountains. The lake was created by the Norris Dam, which was the first project taken by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) as part of the New Deal (a series of programs public work projects previously mentioned enacted by Present Roosevelt between 1933 and 1938). 

Lake Chelan, Washington

Mountains overlooking Lake Chelan in Washington State
Mountains overlooking Lake Chelan in Washington State.

This amazing glacial-fed lake is the third deepest in the United States, ending at 386 feet below sea level. A long, narrow inlet with steep sides and cliffs, called a fjord to geologists, is created through glacial erosion, which is how Lake Chelan came to fruition. Since the lake is on the East side of the mountains, Lake Chelan is also an excellent getaway for those who want to travel within a reasonable distance of Washington. This renders it drier than the Western side of the mountains, freeing vacationers from rain. An assortment of water activities is available through summer, allowing travelers to frolic and quench their adventurous spirits. 

Crystal-clear waters are something out of this world, and these lakes are only a start! Fortunately for those who may not be near the United States, crystal-clear lakes exist all over the globe. However, for those planning to visit bodies of water in the United States, travelers can drink in all the grandeur this country’s untarnished lakes offer using this guide!


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