Our Favorite Lakes: Mountain Region

Part 2 of our 4 part series talking about our favorite lakes in the mountain regions.

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If you are in search of a new outdoor adventure, you cannot beat pitching a tent on the shores of a beautiful lake.

In this series, we are sharing our favorite lakes with you across the country. Part 1 introduced you to a few stunning lakes in West Coast states. In this part, we will be giving you some lakes to add to your bucket list in the Mountain Region.

Why Visit Mountain Region Lakes?

The Mountain Region of the US boasts some of the most dramatic, awe-inspiring scenery you are going to find anywhere in the world.

Not only that, but much of the land is wide open. It is not too hard to find spots that are relatively secluded, even when you are visiting popular lakes during peak tourist seasons.

In fact, all three of our recommended lakes in the Mountain Region are well-known. But you will not find them overcrowded.

1. Lake Powell, UT and AZ

On the border between Utah and Arizona, you will find a spectacular manmade reservoir called Lake Powell. The only larger reservoir in the country is Lake Mead, so despite drawing millions of tourists yearly, it offers plenty of room for visitors to spread out and find secluded places to enjoy.

Why You’ll Love It

Millions of years of erosion have shaped Glen Canyon into a wonderland of reddish rock and deep blue water. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area comprises 1.25 million acres, providing you with endless recreational opportunities. Boating, fishing, swimming, kayaking, hiking, road biking, and scenic drives are just some o the activities that are popular at Lake Powell. You can also participate in guided tours and ranger programs.

If possible, we recommend visiting in May, or waiting until later in the season and heading up to Lake Powell in September or October. The crowds thin out around these times, and rates for campgrounds and boat rentals drop.

2. Grand Lake, CO

The largest natural lake in Colorado is Grand Lake, also the state’s deepest. Like Lake Powell, it is connected to the Colorado River. There is a small town located here as well that is also called Grand Lake, offering convenient amenities for visitors.

Why You’ll Love It

Grand Lake is a gorgeous location; the lake is surrounded by breathtaking mountain peaks, the tops of which become white with snow when the weather gets cool enough. The town has a charming old west look and feel. A public boat ramp and docks are available, along with a number of marinas.

No matter what time of year you visit Grand Lake, you will find plenty to see and do. Go out on the water or hike when the weather is warm. If you visit in winter, the lake freezes over, and you can do ice fishing, ice skating, snowshoeing, skiing, and more.

3. Yellowstone Lake, WY

No discussion of amazing lakes to visit in the Mountain Region would be complete without recommending Yellowstone Lake. This is the huge lake in the middle of Yellowstone National Park.

You can boat and fish on Yellowstone Lake. You probably won’t want to swim in it, however; the water is very cold, even in summer. But there is a ton to see and do throughout the park. You can visit the famous geyser basins, take a hike in the canyon, or go look for animals in Hayden or Lamar Valleys, including bison, coyotes, elk, and more. If you are lucky, you might even spot some wolves or a moose.

Why You’ll Love It

Yellowstone National Park is one of the most famous destinations on the planet for many good reasons. It is a geologically distinctive region with picturesque, unusual scenery. It is also a haven for wildlife. Even at its most crowded, you can find open vistas with few other cars or people around. And if you visit late in the season, you might feel like you have the whole place to yourself.

Tips for Visiting Mountain Region Lakes

  • Check how reservations work if you plan to camp. Find out in advance if you need to book a site or if you are just supposed to show up. Make your reservation early if you have that option. If it is first-come, first-served, then have some backup plans ready in case sites are full.
  • Bring a pop-up canopy tent. Whether you are camping or just spending the day at a lake, you can set up a pop-up canopy tent in minutes to provide you with shelter from sun and wind. This is also a great spot to put your supplies. A pop-up canopy tent can make your entire outing more comfortable and enjoyable.
  • Look into amenities and activities. Rules for swimming, fishing, boating and more vary from lake to lake, so find out what you can and cannot do before you start packing for your trip. Also check if restrooms, firewood, ice and other amenities are offered on-site or not.
  • Pack layers. Weather in the Rockies can be notoriously fast-moving and unpredictable, especially if you are going to be driving around at all. In Yellowstone, for example, it is not uncommon to spend part of your day in a t-shirt and another in a coat. Rain and sun may trade places quickly as well. So, wear layers.
  • Familiarize yourself with the local wildlife. In the mountains, you might run into bears, mountain lions, and other potentially dangerous creatures. Before you visit mountain lakes, find out what animals you might encounter and how you can stay safe. For example, it is important not to startle bears. Be aware that at some campgrounds, tent camping may not be permitted due to wildlife concerns.

Enjoy the Lakes of the Mountain Region

We hope you get a chance to spend some time at Lake Powell, Yellowstone Lake, Grand Lake, or any of the other beautiful lakes in the Mountain Region.

We will explore more exciting destinations in Our Favorite Lakes, Part 3: Midwest Region.