Best Lakes in Western USA

There’s nothing quite like enjoying the summer by sitting on a lake. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a friend group get-together, a lake trip is easy to plan and simultaneously fun and relaxing. It can be whatever you want it to be! And the West US has some of the most stunning lakes in the country. We’ve found our top six refreshing lake getaways on the Western side of the country you need to consider this summer.

1. Lake Tahoe, California 

It’s probably no surprise that Lake Tahoe is on this list. While Lake Tahoe is most known for its winter activities, it’s also a great time in the summer. You can spend your days swimming in the water, paddleboarding, or going for a sunset sail. 

When you’re done sitting by the lake water, you can take a break to go hiking or biking on one of the many trails nearby. 

Lake Tahoe is definitely a tourist destination, so you’ll never run out of activities to do. You can visit the local breweries and distilleries, have dinner with views of the lake, and even enjoy Tahoe’s nightlife scene. 

The only drawback? Unfortunately, just about everyone in California realizes that Lake Tahoe makes for a fantastic lake getaway. This means that during the summer, you’ll be dealing with crowds in most places. Still, in our opinion, putting up with groups is well worth this experience! 

Lake Tahoe

2. Wallowa Lake, Oregon

Unlike Lake Tahoe, Wallowa Lake in Oregon is still a bit of a well-kept secret. This beautiful lake is about 3.7 miles long, and the area holds a temperature of between 80-95 Fahrenheit in the summer. Wallowa Lake is a favorite among families as a lake getaway because there are so many activities to participate in. 

Some of the most popular activities at Wallowa Lake are:

  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Hiking
  • Boating

We highly recommend riding the tram to the top of Mount Howard and paragliding at the top. 

One of the best parts is taking in the area at night. Thanks to the minimal light pollution in the area, the stars are exceptionally bright. Additionally, if you’re at the lake in mid-August, you might witness the Perseids meteor shower. 

Wallowa Lake Getaway

3. Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake National Park is one of the most stunning lakes in the country. The crater formed when the Mount Mazama volcano collapsed approximately 7,700 years ago. Today, the water is a gorgeous crystal blue, drawing in thousands of people annually. 

You can choose to camp or stay in the park’s two lodging options to make this a multi-day lake getaway. While people are allowed to go swimming in Crater Lake, we must warn you that the water is quite cold. So instead, most people spend their days hiking and biking. Exploring the park also means you may get a glimpse of the park’s wildlife – such as bears and pikas. 

You can also fish in the lake for rainbow trout and kokanee salmon. There are no restrictions on the size of the fish you catch or the amount, but fishing is only allowed at the bottom of the Cleetwood Cove Trail. 

Lastly, for experienced divers, scuba diving in Crater Lake is a popular activity with excellent water visibility. 

This destination makes for a perfect summer trip as visiting Crater Lake National Park is simply not enough time. Instead, you’ll want to stay here for a couple of days to take in the park’s natural beauty. 

Crater Lake makes for a great lake getaway

4. Lake Chelan, Washington

Lake Chelan is a 50-mile-long lake in Washington that gets, on average, over 300 days of sunshine. This spot offers everything you want in a lake getaway – boating, golfing, water slides, and fishing. And, there are dozens of trails surrounding the lake. Consider tackling the Chelan Lakeshore Trail, a 17-mile (one-way) hiking adventure through the Washington landscape. 

When you’re not spending time by the lake, consider indulging in some wine tasting. In 2009, Lake Chelan was designated as an official American Viticulture Area (AVA). As a result, you can book a unique wine tasting experience that features the 30+ wineries that wrap around the lake. 

Lake Chelan is a great lake getaway spot

5. Big Bear Lake, California

Located in Southern California, Big Bear Lake is easily one of the state’s top lake getaways. This seven-mile lake maintains an average daytime temperature of 78 degrees from June to August. During the night, temperatures drop to 50 degrees as the cool mountain air sets in.

Big Bear Lake has six marinas and plenty of fun water equipment to rent. You can boat around the lake, go fishing for trout, go water skiing, canyoning, or kayaking. 

Need to get away from the water for a bit? Try mountain biking or road cycling along the many trails in the area. Or, consider visiting the zoo or going horseback riding. Ultimately, your days can easily be packed at Big Bear! 

Big Bear in California

6. Suttle Lake, Oregon

If you’re looking for a quiet, romantic lake getaway, Suttle Lake is our top pick. Suttle Lake is a glacier-formed lake, making its water extremely vibrant and clear. Surprisingly, Suttle Lake never seems to be overly crowded – even in peak summer months! This is likely because many of the cabins in the area are privately owned, so lodging options are limited. 

We recommend booking a couple of days at the Suttle Lodge, located in the Deschutes National Forest. After spending your days fishing, biking, and hiking around the lake, you can come back to the privacy and comfort of this wonderful lodge. 

Take a couple of hours away from the lake and hike to Proxy Waterfalls. The hike is relatively easy and brings you to two stunning waterfalls.  

Proxy Waterfalls in Oregon

You’ll have to hurry up and reserve your spot soon because these lake getaways are well-known and tend to book up for the summer quickly!