Waking to another cloudless morning, you dive off your houseboat into the wild blue of Lake Powell in southern Utah. The water takes the edge off the heat, and you float along, contemplating a lazy day of navigating spectacular red-rock gorges and flooded canyons.
America offers a lake vacation for every season and activity, and no matter where you live, even in the Southwest desert, chances are there’s one near you. Satellite mapping has yet to yield a precise answer, but the best guess is that there are between 3 and 4 million lakes across the U.S., ranging from duck ponds to wonders like Oregon’s Crater Lake.
Minnesota, known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, actually counts nearly 12,000 — the most named lakes among the lower 48 states. Michigan comes in a close second and Florida third, while among smaller states, Maine stands out with nearly 800. But Alaska trumps them all with an estimated 3 million lakes. We’re partial to Lake Clark by Port Alsworth, where wilderness adventures are guaranteed, whether you’re in the mood for kayaking, getting dragged by a dogsled team, or spotting grizzly bears and caribou.
While Lake Tahoe is most popular for winter sports and Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago reaches its windsurfing peak in fall, we associate most lakes with summer vacation, as places to cool off and chill out. After all, lakes can inspire quiet reflection, most famously in the case of Henry David Thoreau, who sought out Walden Pond in the backwoods of Massachusetts.
These are the 25 best lake vacations in the United States.
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