15 Clearest Lakes in the US and Canada

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Lakes come in all colors, shapes, depths, and sizes. If you’re a lake lover, this article is for you! Some lakes are spectacularly blue, while others are an ethereal shade of turquoise. And some are extraordinarily clear! If you’re on the hunt for the clearest lakes in the US and/or Canada, we’ve got you covered.

After much research (and personal experience), we complied this list of the 15 Clearest Lakes in the US and Canada to show off these amazing vacation destinations for you and your family to enjoy. Let’s get into it.

10 Clearest Lakes in the USA

1. Torch Lake, Michigan
2. Crater Lake, Oregon
3. Newfound Lake, New Hampshire
4. Lake Chelan, Washington
5. Hanging Lake, Colorado
6. Lake George, New York
7. Deer Lake, Minnesota
8. Lake Tahoe, California, and Nevada
9. Flathead Lake, Montana
10. Lake Coeur D’Alene, Idaho

5 Clearest Lakes in Canada

1. Moraine Lake, Alberta
2. Lake Louise, Alberta
3. Emerald Lake, British Columbia
4. Garibaldi Lake, British Columbia
5. Abraham Lake, Alberta

RVing will let you and your family see some of the most beautiful places in the United States and Canada. Both countries are filled with amazing hiking trails, beautiful national parks, and great views. However, what really stands out in this great continent are the lakes.

North America has been graced with some of the most beautiful lakes in the world. However, many of the best ones to visit are some of the lesser known ones. Many of the best lakes to visit in North America are the clearest ones.

While they are clear up close, these lakes shine in spectacular and otherworldly shades of blue, turquoise, and even hints of green.

Lakes like Tahoe make you feel like you’re in the Caribbean, and Crater Lake is so blue from afar that it almost seems as if someone dyed it… But it’s all natural!

Why Are Some Lakes So Clear?

Anyone that has been to multiple lakes in their life will know that each one looks a little different. It is not just the shape and size of the lake that is different. The water also varies in color. However, it might not have ever occurred to you why some lakes appear clearer than others.

The reason why some lakes are spectacularly clear and others are dark, murky, or tea colored all comes down to science and biology. Clearer lakes have lower levels of algae and plant matter, and are often found in colder climates. Murky lakes have a lot of organic material that add color to the water.

Some lakes may be clear most of the time but can change color due to seasons, weather, etc.

There are some lakes that are so clear that you can spot fishing swimming around together. However, clear lakes usually have smaller populations of fish. That is because murky water will have more organic material and algae for fish to eat.

As a result, it can support a higher population of aquatic creatures. So, in most cases, when you see a clear lake, it does not have a lot of algae, and it does not have a large fish population. Therefore, these lakes are meant for relaxation more than they are meant for fishing. 

However, there are some lakes that have certain types of algae that give it a hue that makes it look clearer than it actually is. Additionally, many of the clearest lakes in the world are high up in the mountains. These lakes experience less runoff of dirt and dead plants. As a result, the water can stay clearer for longer. 

Is a Lake Clean if it is Clear?

One misconception many people have is that a lake is clean because it is clear. Firstly, you should know that no lake is 100 percent clean. Every lake has things that make it dirtier than a pool you might have in your backyard. Even if you knew that, you might not know that clear lakes can be dirtier than lakes that are brown. 

Clear lakes are easy to spot because there are no visible particles in the water. You can see fish swimming around near the bottom of the lake, and the water looks inviting. However, some of the clearest lakes may be hiding bacteria, pesticides, or toxins. Many of these toxins are produced by algae, so you might think that a small algae population means you have a clean lake.

However, that is not the case because a small amount of algae can produce a large amount of toxin. As a result, it is possible for a clear lake to have more toxins than one that looks muddy and brown. 

The 10 Clearest Lakes in the United States

The United States is one of the largest countries in the world by landmass. It covers a massive amount of land, and as a result, it has a tremendous number of lakes. Many of these lakes are beautiful and clear. If you are an RVer, you will want to visit some of these clear lakes. Here are 10 of the clearest lakes in the United States.

1. Torch Lake, Michigan

Torch Lake Michigan clear lake

If you are looking for one of the clearest lakes in the US, you should head over to Michigan and check out Torch Lake. Torch Lake has unparalleled beauty that is often attributed to its unique turquoise color. It was originally called the Lake of the Torches by the Ojibwa Tribe, after the torches they lit to attract fish at night. 

Additionally, Torch Lake is part of what is known as the Chain of Lakes, a series of 14 lakes and connecting rivers in Michigan. Visits come from all around the world to see the lake and the surrounding area. If you travel between the lakes in the area you will be able to enjoy 100 miles of boating adventures. Torch Lake is also a great lake for swimming, kayaking, sailing, and windsurfing. 

2. Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake National Park

When you take your RV out on the road and head over to Oregon, you will want to check out Crater Lake. If you can, you should try to find a campground as close to it as possible because it is one of the most beautiful and clearest lakes in the US.

Crater Lake is also the deepest lake in the United States. It was formed over 7000 years ago when an eruption caused a volcano to collapse in on itself. This created a caldera or a large cauldron-like hollow that forms shortly after the emptying of a magma chamber in a volcanic eruption. 

Crate Lake has been noted by the National Park Service as one of the clearest lakes in the world. It has no incoming streams to bring sediment or minerals into the lake. It is purely water fed by rain, snow, and glacial springs. As a result, the water is so clear that it has an estimated visible depth of over 130 feet. 

This beautiful body of water is also home to features like Wizard Island. This island is located in the center of the lake and is home to a crater called the Witches’ Cauldron, a small island of rock spires called Phantom Ship, and the Old Man, a large, upright hemlock log that has been bobbing around the lake for over 100 years. 

3. Newfound Lake, New Hampshire

Newfound Lake New Hampshire

New Hampshire is a great state to visit, even though it gets overlooked by the masses. It has plenty of natural beauty, including Newfound Lake, one of the best clear lakes in the US. It can be found in the Lakes Region of central New Hampshire.

Newfound Lake is home to the purest fresh water in the state, and it is refreshed twice a year by eight underground springs. Since the springs are the main water source for the lake, it remains one of the clearest lakes in the country. 

The lake reaches depths of 183 feet, and it is 2.5 miles wide and 6 miles long. This should provide guests ample space to explore and experience the lake alone or with other people. The best place to take a dip in the water is on the west shore at Wellington State Park. Here you will get to enjoy the largest freshwater swimming beach in the state. 

4. Lake Chelan, Washington

Located in Washington, Lake Chelan is one of the best clear lakes to visit in the United States. The lake covers 50.5 miles of stunning natural beauty, and it is a gateway to the North Cascades National Park. Additionally, it is the third deepest lake in the United States. It reaches depths of 1486 feet in the deepest section of the lake. While you are in the area, you will also be able to check out the beautiful vineyards, mountains, and small towns in the area surrounding the lake. 

5. Hanging Lake, Colorado

Hanging Lake, Colorado is a great place to visit if you want to see one of the best and clearest lakes in the United States. It is an iconic lake because it is suspended on the edge of Glenwood Canyon’s cliffs. It is known for its awe-inspiring beauty and clear turquoise water. Additionally, it was officially named a National Natural Landmark in 2011. 

Hanging Lake is a rare example of a lake that is formed and secured by limestone deposits. You will only be able to get to the lake by walking along the Hanging Lake Trail. This is one of the most popular hikes in Colorado, despite the fact that it can be a grueling two or three-hour trip. The beauty is worth the effort. 

6. Lake George, New York

lake george new york clear water lake

Lake George is one of the clearest lakes in the United States and is located in the great state of New York. Additionally, Lake George is known as the Queen of American Lakes and is 32 miles long. It is located in the southeastern section of the Adirondack State Park, and it gathers more than 50,000 visitors every summer.

While you are staying at Lake George, you will be able to enjoy several water based activities. These activities range from water skiing and jet skiing to rafting and kayaking. Fortunately, Lake George RV Park is only a few minutes away from the lake. So, you will be able to spend the entire day at the lake without needing to do much traveling. 

7. Deer Lake, Minnesota

Deer Lake Minnesota

Minnesota is one of the most beautiful states in the country, and it is home to one of the best clear lakes in the country. Deer Lake is 12 miles north of Grand Rapids, and it receives most of its water from rainfall and both surface and underground springs, which makes these waters very clear. The lake covers roughly 4100 acres, and the lake is approximately 5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. Although it reaches a maximum depth of 121 feet, there are many reefs and rock piles that can present a challenge to boaters. 

Additionally, the lake contains several minerals that changes the water to a vibrant blue, green color on summer days. Finally, Deer Lake is known as the Lake of the Changing Colors and is one of northern Minnesota’s treasures. 

8. Lake Tahoe, California, and Nevada

Lake Tahoe sits on the border of California and Nevada. It is the second deepest lake in the United States after Crater lake, and it stays clear thanks to its location in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The water is pure and often appears as bright cobalt blue. However, some research has found that the striking color of the lake is not actually correlated with its clarity.

Instead, the color is correlated with the amount of algae present in the lake. Since the lake does not have as much algae as normal, it appears bluer than most other lakes. This could have negative effects on the long-term conservation of the lake’s ecosystem, but it certainly makes it beautiful. 

9. Flathead Lake, Montana

Montana is one of the most overlooked states in the country. However, that does not mean that it is void of beauty. Flathead Lake is one of the best clear lakes in the country, and not many people take the time to visit it. If you are taking your RV through the area, you should stop at what was first described as “a fine sheet of water.” It is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River, with a total length of 28 miles and a width of 15 miles. The lake offers 188 square miles of sparkling water and unlimited recreational opportunities. 

When you get to Flathead Lake, you will be able to enjoy picnics, boating, sailing, fishing, and any other water based activity you want to participate in. You can also take in the sights of the Swan and Mission Mountains as you sit down for your picnic. The surrounding area is also filled with interesting things to see, like cherry orchards, golf courses, and a wildlife refuge. The wildlife refuge is located on Wild Horse Island, and it houses over 75 species of birds, plus deer, sheep, coyotes, and bears. 

10. Lake Coeur D’Alene, Idaho

If you are taking a trip through the Northern states, you will probably pass through Idaho. When you are passing through the great state of Idaho, you will have access to one of the best clear lakes in the country in Lake Coeur D’Alene. The area is covered by more than 55 lakes that were left behind as a result of the glaciers from the Ice Ages. However, none of them are more beautiful than Lake Coeur D’Alene. 

This lake has waters that span over 25 miles and every inch of it is beautiful. When you stay in the area, you will be able to enjoy the stunning beaches and gorgeous views while catching glimpses of spectacular wildlife. This is also an excellent spot to enjoy Idaho sunsets. While you stay here, you can explore the scenic North Idaho Centennial Trail as well. 

The 5 Clearest Lakes in Canada

The United States might be a vast country with lots to see and explore, but why limit yourself to one country? Canada is easy to get to, and it is home to many beautiful areas and stunningly clear lakes. Here are five of the clearest lakes in Canada

1. Moraine Lake, Alberta

Canada is renowned for its beautiful lakes, and Moraine Lake is no exception. Located in Banff National Park in the province of Alberta, it is one of the most beautiful locations in the entire country. The lake is fed by a glacier, which helps keep the water clean and clear.

However, the color changes depending on where the lake is viewed from, the time of day, and the time of year also impact the color. Summer provides the brightest hue, but it is still beautiful when you visit in the winter. 

2. Lake Louise, Alberta

Clearest Lakes in the US and Canada

If you are already in the area visiting Moraine Lake, you should check out Lake Louise, another lake in Banff National Park. It is one of the smallest lakes we have looked at today but is truly spectacular with its emerald green water and stunning surrounding mountains. 

The lake is nestled into the foot of Mount Victoria at an elevation of 1750 meters. It is one of the main draws of Banff National Park, and not just for its views. While you are here, you will be able to enjoy many outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, boating, ice climbing, and ice fishing.

Finally, the lake is close to the Lake Louise Ski Area. This is one of three major ski areas in the national park, and it is the first stop on the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup. 

3. Emerald Lake, British Columbia

Everyone always says that western Canada is the most beautiful part of the country. Not all Canadians will agree with that, but it is hard to argue against it when there are lakes like Emerald Lake in British Columbia. Located in Yoho National park, Emerald Lake is the largest of the 61 lakes found in the park. It is completely enclosed by mountains of the President Range, and it sits at an elevation of 1200 meters. 

Emerald Lake is one of the premier attractions in the area because of its beauty and the activities you can enjoy. While you are here, you can go canoeing, hiking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. It is also easy to get to by vehicle, even though it is in a very secluded area. 

You should note that the lake is frozen from November to June. As a result, you will need to plan a summer trip if you want to see it in all its beauty. However, seeing a frozen lake in Canada is one of the most beautiful things you will ever see. 

4. Garibaldi Lake, British Columbia

Garibaldi Lake in British Columbia is known for its turquoise color. It sits at an elevation of 1484 meters, and it is truly stunning as it is surrounded almost entirely by mountains that reflect into the water like mirrors.

The lake stretches from Whistler to Squamish, and it is only accessible via a 9 kilometer hike along the Garibaldi Lake Trail. It is also popular to visit in the winter because of the excellent backcountry skiing and snowshoeing that you can enjoy in the area. 

5. Abraham Lake, Alberta

The final lake we will be looking at is Abraham Lake, located in Alberta. It is on the North Saskatchewan River, but it is a little different from many of the other lakes we have looked at. Abraham Lake is an artificial lake that was created in 1972 by the Bighorn Dam. 

Abraham Lake is not a large lake, but it is still an impressive one that has an amazing blue color. This is a result of the rock flour created by the mountains. One of the best reasons to visit this lake is to see the formation of frozen bubbles beneath its icy surface during the winter months. This odd phenomenon is caused by the rotting of plants in the lake, which release methane gas that cannot be released, forming bubbles. 

FAQs About the Clearest Lakes in the US and Canada

Explore the Clearest Lakes in the United States and Canada

After reading, we hope you have all the information you need to pick a few of the best clear lakes in the United States and Canada to travel to. We know there is a lot of information to absorb, but it should be helpful as you plan your next trip.

Additionally, we know a lot of people prefer to stay in the United States, but you should consider exploring the lakes in Canada if you can. Obviously, it is a long drive for those of you that live in the south, but if you live in a northern state, a trip to Canada will not require a long drive. By expanding the areas you are willing to visit, you might see things you never would have had the opportunity to see otherwise. 

Which of the 15 clearest lakes listed above are you most interested in? Do you think you will take a trip to Canada during the next camping season? What appeals to you most about the clearest lakes in North America? Let us know in the comments!

Searching for Campgrounds Near the Clearest Lakes in the US and Canada?

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