Separated from the mainland United States, Alaska is a state like no other. Located in between the boreal rainforest in the south and the frozen Arctic tundra up north, the landscape of Alaska is truly surreal. Of the many notable geographical wonders that the state has to offer, its lakes are what stand out. Whether it is fishing, swimming, or skating in the winter, the lakes of Alaska are a source of both endless fun and unmatched beauty.
1. Mendenhall Lake
Located only a few miles north of Juneau, Mendenhall Lake is part of the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area. The glacial cold water means that Mendenhall is not the best place to go for a swim, but it does serve as an outstanding hike or day trip with family and friends. The lake itself is easily accessible by road, a luxury that some lakes in Alaska do not have. Mendenhall is also home to quite a robust campsite, found on the southeast portion of the lake for those who want a more enriching experience.
2. Eklutna Lake
Found outside of Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, Eklunta Lake is perfect for those who are looking to take a step off the beaten path. Eklunta is not totally isolated, but it is harder to get to than others, especially in the winter months.
Locals and tourists alike commonly make the trek to the lake via horseback in the warmers parts of the year, and by ski and snowmobile when the snow hits the ground. Whichever method you decide to use to get to Eklunta Lake will be worth it. Sitting deep in the valley, surrounded by the Chugach Mountains, and boasting more than 15 miles of shoreline, Eklunta looks like something that belongs on a postcard.
3. Wonder Lake
Wonder Lake is one of the most remote lakes in Alaska. Nestled in the middle of the enormous Denali National Park and Preserve, Lake Wonder is a hidden Alaskan treasure. The lake remains one of the more optimal spots to observe the stunning wildlife; moose, caribou, and deer frequent the area.
Located on the southern point of the lake is a campsite, but it is not for the casual "glamper." The campsite has no access to electricity and is tent only, making it best-suited for those with previous outdoor and camping experience.
4. Kenai Lake
A few hours south of Anchorage lays the majestic Kenai Lake. Near the coast, Kenai and the surrounding area is one of the most mountainous regions in Alaska. Famous for its numerous hiking trails, the number of stunning mountaintop views is almost endless.
Water activities like kayaking and canoeing are also popular in the area. Kenai's proximity to Cooper Landing and other nearby towns also make this destination ideal for travelers who want to stay a bit longer.
5. Lake Clark
One of the most popular lakes in Alaska, Lake Clark has a little bit to offer everyone. Well known for its breathtaking scenery and thriving wildlife, Lake Clark is a must for any outdoor lover.
Brown bears are also known to frequent the lake and nearby streams due to the large population of sockeye salmon. While the sight of dozens of grizzlies can be an astonishing experience to see at a distance, it would not be so enjoyable if you accidentally got too close. Make sure to always be aware of your surroundings so you do not put yourself in a dangerous situation.
6. Portage Lake
Located near Whittier and attached to one of the largest glaciers in Alaska, Portage is another glacier-fed lake. While the glacier itself is a sight to behold, the lake is certainly worth your attention.
Swimming in the lake is not recommended due to its fridged temperature and potential glacier fall off. Portage Lake is most often visited in the snowy months when activities like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular. Skating is a magical experience when the lake freezes over with miles to explore.
Alaska is a one-of-a-kind place and its lakes are truly something to behold. The final frontier of the US, the untamed wilderness is something everyone should see for themselves if they get the chance. Keep in mind that Alaska is in the heart of bear-country, so bring bear spray or even a firearm if you plan on going off-trail. It would be unwise to venture out into any of these areas without proper experience. If you plan on making the journey be sure you are well-supplied or hire an experienced guide.