5 national parks with lakes you must see to believe

This post contains affiliate links. If you click and purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read our full disclosure policy.


What do you get when you combine scenic lakes with the the grandeur of America’s national parks? A natural combination that simply can’t be beat in terms of sheer natural beauty. Here are five of our favorite national parks with lakes that are exceptionally stunning.

Gorgeous Fontana Lake in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

view of Crater Lake in Oregon
Crater Lake. Photo by photoquest7 via canva.

Established in 1902, Crater Lake National Park is the United States’ sixth oldest national park and the only national park in Oregon.

The park’s main attraction is Crater Lake, a 7,700-year old lake formed by volcanic eruption.

The lake, known for its sapphire-blue waters and serene beauty, dips to 1,943 feet deep, making it the country’s deepest lake — and one of the top 10 deepest in the world.

Crater Lake National Park is also known for its incredible Pumice Desert — a “desert” of pumice and ash — and The Pinnacles, naturally occurring spires and pinnacles that tower over the terrain.

Start planning your trip to Crater Lake National Park.

divider

Glacier National Park, Montana

Bowman Lake
Bowman Lake. Photo by Bentleyphotos via canva.

Pristine Glacier National Park occupies more than 1,000,000 acres of picturesque Montana wilderness, stretching into two mountain ranges and north to the Canadian border.

The park is home to more than 1,000 plant species, hundreds of animal species, and more than 130 lakes. Among those lakes are three popular vacation lakes: Bowman LakeLake McDonald, and Spoon Lake.

Bowman Lake is a glacier lake, known for its simple beauty and peaceful seclusion. Lake McDonald is the largest and deepest lake within the park and is renowned for its excellent fishing. Spoon Lake is a nature lover’s paradise, beckoning outdoor lovers to boat, hike, horseback ride, fish, and more.

Plan your trip to Glacier National Park.

divider

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina & Tennessee

Stunning Fontana Lake in spring
Fontana Lake. Photo by TheBigMK via canva

Straddling the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains, Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers some of the southeast’s most spectacular scenery.

With more than 814 square miles (521,000 acres), it is one of the United States’ largest protected areas, home to thousands of plant and animal species. Among the park’s gems are Fontana Lake and Lake Nantahala.

Fontana Lake was built by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for hydroelectric power, but its unbelievable setting has earned it the title of one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in the world.

Lake Nantahala, a prime fishing lake, is known as home to three endangered species: spotfin chub fish, Appalachian elktoe mussel, and the little-wing pearlymussel.

Explore more things to see and do at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

divider

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Granby Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
Lake Granby. Photo by Shihui Yang via canva

Home to varying ecosystems — from mountain tundra to coniferous forests — Rocky Mountain National Park is one of Colorado’s crown jewels.

Among its treasures are many gorgeous lakes, including Grand LakeLake GranbyShadow Mountain Lake, and Sun Valley Lake.

Grand Lake’s pristine waters are replenished with melting snow; the lake is surrounded by abundant wildlife and majestic scenery.

Lake Granby, located at the edge of the park, is famous for water sports and fishing, as well as its incredible scenery.

Shadow Mountain Lake and Sun Valley Lake are truly postcard-perfect spots, ideal for photo ops and quiet contemplation. Plan your adventure to Rocky Mountain National Park.

divider

Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Montana & Wyoming

Yellowstone Lake in Wyoming
Yellowstone Lake. Photo by ferrantraite via canva.

The United States’ first national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Yellowstone National Park is perhaps best known for its Old Faithful Geyser and myriad wildlife.

The park has other treasures in store for visitors, including aquatic jewel Yellowstone Lake.

Many visitors to the park — the most visited in the country — use the lake as a base camp for continued explorations into the area’s vast, natural riches.

Yellowstone Lake is a natural lake and best enjoyed for its simple pleasures. Since water skiing, wakeboarding and jet skiing are prohibited, quiet endeavors like kayaking and hiking take center stage.

Share your lake love