The 10 Best Lakes Near Me in the Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest has pretty spectacular lakes, but some stand out from the rest. The lakes on this list are the best in the Pacific Northwest for different reasons because they are all so unique. So whether you’re looking to go kayaking or swimming or want to enjoy some time by the water at a resort with friends, these lakes will not disappoint.

Johnson Lake, British Columbia

turquoise johnson lake bc
Image Credit: Savoteur

This turquoise lake is located in the interior of British Columbia and is a popular spot for fishing, kayaking, and swimming. The lakeshore is primarily undeveloped, making it the perfect place to relax and enjoy the area’s natural beauty.

Johnson Lake, BC, is known as the “Caribbean of the North” and is a popular lakeshore destination for locals and tourists alike. Unfortunately, there are only 12 campsites available, and they are on a first-come, first-served basis, so make sure to reserve your spot in advance if you plan to take in this gorgeous lake overnight.

There are many beautiful lakes in BC, and Johnson Lake is easily among the province’s top three.

Lake Chelan, Washington

lake and docks
Image Credit: Unsplash

Lake Chelan is one of the most popular lakes in Washington and attracts visitors from all over. Lake Chelan is a 50-mile-long lake located in the North Cascades region of Washington. The glacier-fed lake is known for its clear, turquoise waters and is a popular spot for swimming, fishing, and boating.

Several lakeside towns along Lake Chelan’s shores offer plenty of restaurants, hotels, and lakeside activities. So whether you’re looking to kayak or enjoy a relaxing picnic by the lake, Lake Chelan offers something for everyone.

The clear blue waters of Lake Chelan are so inviting, and the best way to see them is to take a helicopter tour of the lake. So if you’re looking for a unique lakeside experience, this is the way to go!

Ross Lake, Washington

This beautiful lake is located in the Ross Lake National Recreation Area in Washington and is known for its crystal-clear waters and stunning mountain views. The lake is a popular spot for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing and offers plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing.

Several campgrounds around Ross Lake offer lakeside camping with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. So if you’re looking to get away from it all and spend some time in nature, Ross Lake is the perfect spot.

The turquoise waters of Ross Lake are a sight to behold and worth visiting. Pack your camping gear and enjoy an overnight lakeside adventure at this beautiful location.

Lake Coeur D’Alene, Idaho

lake with seaside town

Lake Coeur d’Alene is located in northern Idaho and offers some of the best lakeside views in the state. At the end of a long day, you can unwind in one of the world’s most beautiful cities at Coeur d’Alene Resort. Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards and Gold List have listed it for its exceptional collection of amenities and the famous 14th hole of the Resort Golf Course, a floating green.

The quaint lakeside town of Coeur d’Alene offers plenty of restaurants, shops, and lakeside activities. Coeur d’Alene is the place to be if you’re looking for a relaxing lakeside getaway. With its beautiful scenery and friendly locals, Lake Coeur d’Alene is one of the best lakes near me in the Pacific Northwest.

Lake Coeur d’Alene boasts the longest floating boardwalk in the world and is worth a visit. Take a walk or bike on the boardwalk and enjoy the stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. This lakeside town is sure to charm you with its small-town feel and lakeside beauty.

Crater Lake, Oregon

Located in southern Oregon, Crater Lake is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the Pacific Northwest. The deepest lake in the United States and the seventh deepest on earth, Crater Lake, was formed from an ancient volcano that collapsed thousands of years ago after an eruption.

In addition to its deep blue waters surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery, there are plenty of lakeside activities to enjoy at Crater Lake. There is something for everyone at this beautiful lake, from kayaking and hiking to horseback riding and bird watching.

Crater Lake was formed from a collapsed volcano thousands of years ago, making it one of the oldest lakes in North America. If you’re interested in learning more about the history and geology of Crater Lake, be sure to visit the Crater Lake National Park Visitor Center.

Osoyoos Lake, British Columbia

two boys on beach at lake osoyoos
Image Credit: Savoteur

Located in the South Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Osoyoos Lake is a popular lakeside destination for locals and tourists and one of Canada’s warmest lakes. The lake offers many lakeside attractions, including biking, hiking, boating, fishing, swimming, golfing, and wine tasting.

After a long day enjoying lakeside activities, check out some of the local wineries. There are many Okanagan wineries with restaurants to enjoy the wine, the view, and the culinary delights.

Watermark Beach Resort is the most popular hotel accommodation due to its prime location along the waterfront. During the summer, the beach is packed, and the lake is busy with waterskiing and other water sports.

Colchuck Lake, Washington

Colchuck Lake is a beautiful three-hour drive from Seattle, WA, perfect for escaping city life. Located just 30 minutes from the town of Leavenworth, Colchuck Lake is a serene alpine lake that offers stunning views of Dragontail Peak and Colchuck Peak. The lake is a popular destination for hikers, climbers, and kayakers.

If you’re looking for a peaceful lakeside escape, Colchuck Lake is the perfect destination. Its pristine lakeside setting and stunning mountain views make it one of the best lakes in Washington.

However, you must complete a challenging hike to get to Colchuck Lake. This strenuous hike rewards you with crystal clear water but come prepared and come early; the parking lot is often full by 7 AM on weekdays.

Baker Lake, Washington

wildflowers next to lake

There are plenty of activities for everyone at this nine-mile reservoir. You can camp, boat or fish with your family while listening to the sounds of nature in peace and quiet; hike along its eastern shoreline on easy trails that lead you over a bridge crossing Baker River.

Follow State Route 20 to the Baker River Highway and beautiful Baker Lake to reach Baker Lake. Recreational activities are year-round at Baker Lake, including hiking in the summer and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.

The 38-mile drive along the scenic western shore of Baker Lake is a must-do for any visitor to this area. The road begins in Concrete and ends at Shannon Creek Campground, where there are many opportunities to stop and enjoy the views.

Emerald Lake, British Columbia

turquoise emerald lake with house and bridge

Emerald Lake should be on your list when looking for a serene, tranquil, and calm place. This fantastic gem in the Canadian Rockies gets its name because it reflects color from the light like an infinite pool of liquid glass, capturing all colors around it like magic!

Emerald Lake is the perfect destination, with lush green trees surrounding this pristine body of water. The abundant lakeside activities include hiking, kayaking, and swimming in crystal-clear water. Emerald Lake is located inside Yoho National Park and requires a $19 entry fee to visit.

Lake Quinault, Washington

Lake Quinault is a large, glacially-carved lake located in Olympic National Park near the town of Amanda Park. The lake has a maximum depth of 246 feet and is one of the deepest lakes in Washington.

The lake offers excellent fishing for bull trout, kokanee salmon, and Dolly Varden Trout. You must purchase a fishing permit as the Quinault Indian Nation regulates it. Swimming, kayaking, and canoeing are also popular activities on the lake. There is a $15 fee to enter Olympic National Park, which provides access to Lake Quinault and other park attractions.

If you’re looking for a beautiful lakeside destination in Washington, be sure to check out Lake Quinault. With its clear water and stunning mountain views, this lake is one of the best lakes in Washington.

The lakeside towns in the Pacific Northwest are some of the most charming around and offer a unique lakeside experience that you won’t find anywhere else. So make sure to visit one or all of these lakes during your next trip to the region and enjoy everything they have to offer!  


Travel Writer at Savoteur | + posts

Casandra Karpiak is a travel writer and owner of Savoteur. A Toronto native with Danish roots currently residing in British Columbia, her travel writing has been seen on The Associated Press wire, MSN, FOX, CBS, NBC, Entrepreneur, 24/7 Wall St, Times Daily, and many more. When she’s not traveling, she can be found at hockey arenas all over BC cheering on her two young sons.