This post contains affiliate links. If you click and purchase, we may earn a small referral fee at no extra cost to you. Read our full disclosure.
Lakes aren’t just warm-weather destinations. Spring, fall and winter all offer scenic beauty and abundant activities at lakes across the country.
Lake Tahoe is the quintessential four-season destination. With Lake Tahoe resorts offering every imaginable winter sport, winter vacations are just as popular as summer getaways. Here’s a sampling of other four-season lakes that invite you to sample their winter hospitality.
1 – Mammoth Lakes, California
Mammoth Lakes is a group of small, interconnected lakes located in the High Sierras and nestled within the Inyo National Forest.
Nearby Mammoth Mountain receives up to 30 feet of snow annually, making it one of the leading winter playgrounds of the West. Cold-weather enthusiasts enjoy downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, sledding, tobogganing, snowmobiling, ice skating and snowshoeing.
The area is also prime mountain biking territory. Several ski resorts open specific slopes for downhill mountain biking in summer, with the convenience of taking a lift back to the top.
Boating, canoeing, kayaking, trout fishing, camping, golf, and music festivals are favorite summertime activities along the Mammoth Lakes.
2 – Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho
What is more awe-inspiring than skiing down a mountain with panoramic views of 85,000-acre Lake Pend Oreille? Enveloped by the Kaniksu and Couer d’Alene National Forests, this glacial beauty is a year-round recreational playground.
Mountains reaching altitudes of more than 6,000 feet provide the scenery for alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snow tubing, and in summer, downhill mountain biking.
With depths plunging more than 1,100 feet, Lake Pend Oreille was a naval training station during World War II, and today the Navy tests acoustic underewater submarine research in the lake’s cavernous depths.
If summertime temperatures are more to your liking, on-water and off-water activities are plentiful: hiking, biking, golf, horseback riding, trout fishing, boating, kayaking, sailing, swimming, and scuba diving. Or perhaps the family will enjoy huckleberry picking from July to September.
3 – Lake Dillon, Colorado
Summit County, Colorado, conjures up images of snow-capped mountains and several world-class ski areas. But don’t overlook Lake Dillon, nestled between Keystone, Silverthorne, and Frisco.
During warmer temperatures, colorful sailboats glide across the lake surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. The local yacht club claims to be the nation’s highest sailing club at 9,017 feet. Boaters, kayakers, canoeists, and anglers share the lake with sailors.
Hiking, biking, and golf are popular due to the spectacular mountain and lake views. A paved biking trail follows the shoreline, crosses over the Lake Dillon Dam, and continues to popular ski areas.
The golden blanket of aspens in autumn provides the perfect setting for hiking to scenic overlooks of the lake, continuing upward to the Continental Divide where elevations exceed 13,000 feet.
4 – Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
America’s West doesn’t have a monopoly on wintertime activities. Lake Geneva is often referred to as the “Newport of the West” because it has been a popular resort community for more than 150 years.
The hills and valleys of southern Wisconsin are a haven for winter recreation: downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, ice skating, ice fishing, and sleigh rides. Lake Geneva hosts Winterfest, which features a national snow sculpting competition, each February.
The 5,200-acre lake is just as popular in summer, offering every imaginable water sport. Avid golfers can schedule a tee time at area courses designed by the renowned architects.
The United States Postal Service has provided continuous mail-boat service to Lake Geneva residents since 1870. Mailpersons aboard a popular tour boat leap off the boat, deliver the mail, grab outgoing mail, and jump back aboard without the boat ever stopping!
9 Stunning Lakes With International Borders
International lakes – lakes that border two or more countries – give their visitors incredible opportunities to experience the cultural differences that define each country. These lakes also highlight the importance of…
5 – Deep Creek Lake, Maryland
Tucked within the mountains of western Maryland, Deep Creek Lake is the largest inland body of water in the state with almost 4,000 acres. The lake is a thriving Mid-Atlantic winter playground and a refreshing summer hotspot.
Downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling take center stage when snow is on the ground. But when temperatures warm, Deep Creek Lake awakens with boaters, waterskiers, wakeboarders, and tubers zipping across the water.
Kayakers and canoeists explore wildlife along the shoreline, while anglers drop in their lines for dinner’s catch. Golfers play on greens at the base of ski slopes with mountain views.
Deep Creek Lake State Park features a 6,000-square foot educational and interpretive center that offers information on the flora, fauna, cultural heritage and history of this former logging and coal mining area. Or perhaps a mountain coaster (cross between an alpine slide and roller coaster) will get your adrenaline pumping.
6 – Big Boulder Lake, Pennsylvania
The romantic Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania are chock full of year-round resorts. Visitors can look across frozen Big Boulder Lake in winter to the ski slopes beyond that offer downhill skiing, snowboarding, terrain parks, and snow tubing.
Nearby Hickory Run State Park provides trails for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Mountain laurel dots the lake shoreline in spring and summer, and the clean mountain water is teeming with fish.
Big Boulder Lake and its sister lake, Lake Harmony, provide an abundance of recreational activities no matter what the season. Big Boulder Lake is ideal for sailboats, canoes, kayaks, and boats with electric motors. Power boats and jet skis skim across the surface of Lake Harmony with waterskiers and wakeboarders in tow.
Local golf courses provide spectacular vistas, and Pocono Raceway is a popular NASCAR speedway. Take a leisurely drive through the Poconos to feast your eyes upon brilliant red, orange, and yellow foliage of autumn.
7 – Lake Placid, New York
Located in the High Peaks area of the Adirondacks, Lake Placid twice hosted the Winter Olympics, bringing a variety of winter sports venues in the area into the wider public eye.
Visitors arrive in all seasons and from all corners of the world to enjoy Lake Placid and its smaller sister lake, Mirror Lake. Whiteface Mountain treats sports enthusiasts with superb alpine skiing. Snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, bobsledding, tobogganing, dog sledding, or a leisurely chairlift ride up the mountain are great ways to experience the snow-covered beauty of the Adirondacks.
Adirondack Park provides thousands of miles of wooded hiking, biking, and equestrian trails with pristine summits to view the panoramic splendor. The lakes are just as popular during warmer weather with boating, canoeing, kayaking, cruise tours, swimming, camping, golf, and autumn ‘leaf peeping’ drives. Lake Placid Village is a fun place to browse the talents of local artists and craftsmen.
Adventure Awaits at New York’s Adirondack Lakes
The Adirondack Region of northern New York is a 6.1 million-acre national treasure, thanks to the state legislature that created Adirondack Park in 1894 to keep the land “forever wild.” The Park…
8 – Otsego Lake, Michigan
Northern Michigan is home to Otsego Lake, located near the Alpine Village of Gaylord. The annual Otsego Lake Splash-In, which attracts seaplane pilots from around the country in June, marks the beginning of the summer season filled with boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and swimming.
Otsego Lake State Park provides a long sandy beach, boat launch facilities, and paths where succulent blueberry bushes and the wild orchid, Lady’s Slipper, grow. More than a dozen golf courses dot the Gaylord area. Majestic elk can be viewed year-round on the hilly grassland of the Gaylord City Elk Park.
Winter comes alive with downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. The main attraction of the local ski club, now open to the public, is the all-mountain terrain park with a 22-foot super pipe where Olympians trained for the 2010 Winter Games.
9 – Lake Rescue, Vermont
Although small in size, the Green Mountain State is big on all-season fun. Lake Rescue is located near historic Ludlow.
Okemo Mountain provides the scenic background as colorful sailboats, kayaks, canoes, fishing boats, and motor boats dot the lake’s surface during the summer. Hiking Okemo Mountain rewards trekkers with spectacular views at the 3,340-foot summit. Golfers are challenged by rolling courses in the Okemo Valley.
In winter, the mountain comes alive with Nordic and Alpine skiing, snow tubing, and ice skating. The Okemo Valley provides trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
A scenic drive through back country roads, discovering antique and craft shops, is a splendid way to witness Vermont’s renowned autumn beauty.
5 National Parks with Lakes You Must See to Believe
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…