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10 Clearest Lakes in the U.S.

| Updated Dec 5, 2023

There's something magical about a beautifully clear lake. Here are the 10 clearest lakes in the U.S…

Of course, it could be/probably is something to do with our Michigan roots, but I happen to think many of our RV Lifestyle Fellow Travelers enjoy clear water lakes as much as we do.

I've written about surreal destinations, magical caves, and a whole lot more, but there's just something extra special about a clear, clean, refreshing lake. 

Here are the 10 Clearest Lakes in the U.S.

That's why I took notice when did a story about the “Top 10 Clearest Lakes in the U.S.” It’s a great list, and I put it below to make things easy (please let me know if you think there is anything missing in the comments below).

1. Lake Tahoe – California/Nevada

10 Clearest Lakes in the U.S. 1
Lake Tahoe

Located in the Lake Tahoe Basin in the Sierra Nevadas, this amazing body of water is the largest alpine lake in North America.

With a maximum depth of 1,645 feet (what makes it the second deepest lake in the U.S.), Lake Tahoe has beautiful crystal-clear waters at an elevation of 6,225 feet above sea level.

With its phenomenal clarity, this ancient lake has the purest waters in North America, making it the clearest lake in the U.S.

Lake Tahoe has a dry-summer continental climate, which means there are chilly winters with regular snowfalls and warm and dry summers.

Visitors can take in the sights on a cruise or explore them firsthand with hiking trails, bike paths, or ski slopes in the winter. About 3 million people visit the lake annually.

2. Crater Lake – Oregon

10 Clearest Lakes in the U.S. 2
Crater Lake – Oregon

Crater Lake was formed after the violent eruption of the now-sleeping Mount Mazama about 7,700 years ago.

Known for its deep blue color and clear water, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the country.

It is fed only by rain and snow, and therefore absorbs little pollution, making it the second cleanest lake in the U.S.

Beautiful and interesting features include the “Old Man of the Lake,” a 30-foot tree stump that has bobbed vertically in the waters for more than a century, and Wizard Island, which was formed from a cinder cone after the eruption. 

You can enjoy numerous recreational activities at the lake and in its surrounding park areas, such as fishing, hiking, cycling, snowshoeing, or skiing, depending on the time of year you choose for your visit.

It’s worth noting that campgrounds and lodges are open to visitors in summer, including the Mazama Campground, which allows RVs and trailers.

3. Lake Coeur d’Alene – Idaho

The Coeur d’Alene area of Idaho is covered with more than 55 lakes left behind by the glaciers of the ancient Ice Ages.

However, none are more beautiful or pristine than Lake Coeur d’Alene itself, with waters that span 25 miles. It takes third place on the list of the cleanest lakes in America, and it’s one of the most recommended places to visit when you want to relax surrounded by stunning scenery.

Visitors can experience the spectacular beaches and gorgeous views, catch glimpses of bald eagles, and see beautiful Idaho sunsets.

There’s also the North Idaho Centennial Trail, a multi-use recreational trail that follows the Idaho and Washington state line, traveling along the lake’s shoreline to beautiful Higgens Point.

4. Lake Chelan – Washington

As the largest natural lake in the state of Washington, Lake Chelan offers 50.5 miles of natural beauty while serving as the gateway to North Cascades National Park.

The fourth clearest lake and the third deepest one in America, Lake Chelan, reaches a maximum depth of 1,486 feet in the deepest part of the Wapato and Lucerne Basins, formed by glaciers during the Ice Ages.

In addition to the lake, be sure to check out the beautiful vineyards, mountains, and small towns that surround it.

5. Lake George – New York

The “Queen of American Lakes” is 32 miles long and one of the most beautiful in the U.S.

Located in southeastern Adirondack State Park, more than 50,000 summer visitors go to Lake George annually to seek out the beautiful views of the deep blue water.

On this fifth cleanest lake in the U.S., visitors can enjoy a number of water-based activities ranging from water-skiing and jet-skiing to rafting and kayaking.

RVers will be interested in knowing that Lake George RV Park is located only minutes away from the lake and features plenty of on-site attractions, amenities, and a complimentary trolley.

Be sure to check out our video below from our trip through the Adirondacks.

6. Flathead Lake – Montana

Flathead Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi and takes sixth place on the list of the cleanest lakes in America. The lake offers 188 square miles of sparkling water and unlimited recreational opportunities.

Visitors can take in the sights of the Swan and Mission Mountains, along with sites for picnics, boating, sailing, fishing, and more at Glacier National Park.

The stunning area also has beautiful cherry orchards, great golf courses, and a wildlife refuge on Wild Horse Island that serves as home to more than 75 species of birds, plus deer, bighorn sheep, coyotes, and bears.

Visitors can also hit up the unique shops, try some delicious wine, and explore the art museum at Kalispell, which is just off the lake.

7. Hanging Lake – Colorado

10 Clearest Lakes in the U.S. 4
Hanging Lake – Colorado

On the edge of Glenwood Canyon’s cliffs, Hanging Lake is known for its awe-inspiring beauty and clear turquoise water.

Deemed a National Natural Landmark in 2011, Hanging Lake is a rare example of a lake formed and secured by limestone deposits after an acre-and-a-half of the valley floor sheared off from the fault line.

Visitors should be aware that the sparkling waters can only be reached by the Hanging Lake Trail, one of the most popular hikes in Colorado — and a grueling two to three-hour trip that many believe is worth the effort.

8. Newfound Lake – New Hampshire

Newfound Lake - New Hampshire
Newfound Lake – New Hampshire

Newfound Lake is in the Lakes Region of central New Hampshire.

The gorgeous lake serves as home to the purest freshwater in the state and it is refreshed twice a year by eight underground springs.

At about 2.5 miles wide and 6 miles long, this eighth clearest lake in the U.S. reaches a depth of 183 feet, which provides visitors with ample opportunity to explore and experience Newfound Lake.

On the west shore, Wellington State Park offers a chance to take a dip in the water along the shores of the largest freshwater swimming beach in New Hampshire.

9. Torch Lake – Michigan

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Torch Lake – Michigan

Torch Lake has unparalleled beauty, often attributed to its unique turquoise color.

It was originally called the Lake of the Torches by the Ojibwa Tribe, named for the torches they lit to attract fish at night.

Torch Lake is Michigan’s longest inland lake and its second-largest. It is also part of what is known as the Chain of Lakes, a series of 14 lakes and connecting rivers in the region.

Swimming, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, and more are available for those who want to get out on the shimmering waters of one of the cleanest lakes in the U.S.

10. Deer Lake – Minnesota

It turns out there are loads of “Deer Lakes” in the U.S., but this one is twelve miles north of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

Deer Lake receives much of its water from rainfall and both surface and underground springs, making the waters very clear.

Spanning more than 4,000 acres, this lake is roughly 5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. Though it reaches a maximum depth of 121 feet, there are many reefs and rock piles that can present a challenge to boaters.

Fun fact: It’s not only one of the cleanest lakes in the U.S., but it also contains minerals that change its water to a brilliant blue-green on bright summer days, making it known as the Lake of the Changing Colors and one of northern Minnesota’s treasures.

Why Are Clear Water Lakes the Treasure of the U.S.?

We should really appreciate, cherish, and take good care of the cleanest lakes in the U.S. because they are truly the treasure of our country. Here are some of the reasons why!

They Provide Wildlife Habitat

Clear water lakes create a healthy environment for fish, amphibians and other living creatures or plants to flourish in. As a result, the ecosystem can function properly, and the circle of life in nature is not disrupted. 

They Support Our Economy

The cleanest lakes are also important for supporting our economy, as clear water is significant in its various sectors. For example, it’s crucial for farming and manufacturing, but it also helps to develop the tourism and recreation industries. 

They Allow Us to Connect With Nature

When you want to come back to your roots and have a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, making one of the cleanest lakes in America your next holiday destination will be a perfect choice. 

In such a place, you will be able to relax, forget about your problems for a while, listen to the sounds of nature, and enjoy stunning views.

They Make Us Healthier and Happier

There are studies showing that people living near the cleanest lakes and generally by the coasts are usually healthier and happier. It can stem from such factors as lower stress levels and better air quality.

They Allow Us to Enjoy Recreational Activities

The cleanest lakes in America are a perfect place for many recreational activities. You can enjoy various sports at them, including swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, boating, or fishing (if they are allowed there, of course). 

Walking, cycling or jogging around clear water lakes while admiring the beautiful scenery can also be an amazing experience. You can also relax at the beach and read a book on your own or have a picnic with your loved ones.

The Bottom Line

What is the cleanest lake in the United States? Lake Tahoe, located in the Sierra Nevadas, has the purest waters in the whole of North America, but it is followed by other breathtakingly beautiful clear water lakes, such as Crater Lake, Lake Coeur d’Alene or Lake Chelan. 

All of the water basins mentioned above can be a great destination for your next RV trip if you are searching for a quiet and relaxing refuge to reconnect with nature. We’re sure you will have a great time at any of the cleanest lakes in the U.S. we described – pick your favorite one!

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clearest lakes

Mike Wendland

Published on 2020-03-02

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

One Response to “10 Clearest Lakes in the U.S.”

March 15, 2020at7:37 am, 5 Amazing Lakes to Visit This Summer | RV Lifestyle said:

[…] write often about our beloved Great Lakes and recently wrote about the “10 Clearest Lakes in the U.S.,” but it definitely caught my attention when the folks at did a […]

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