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The most beautiful lakes in the USA: 11 places with stunning bodies of water

There are thousands of lakes scattered throughout the United States. So the chances are high that you are no further than a tank of gas from a wonderful lake. But not all of them have such extraordinary beauty as these 11 best lakes in the US. Travel Leisure.

Photo: IStock

Man has also played a part in creating some of the most beautiful lakes in the US. When Glen Canyon was dammed to provide electricity to the cities downstream, the Colorado River rose to form Lake Powell. It meanders through red, slippery rock canyons on the Utah-Arizona border. In California, the striking limestone formations of Mono Lake are now visible because its water sources have been diverted and the lake has shrunk.

Lake Powell, Utah and Arizona

It is not often that people accidentally create something of such extraordinary natural beauty. The lake initially sparked loud protests when Glen Canyon was dammed and the Colorado River rose to form the second largest man-made lake in the US in sandstone cliffs.

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There is no denying the charm of this long lake as its warm blue waters meander through sheer red sandstone cliffs filling over 90 side canyons. The sandstone Rainbow Bridge is said to be one of the longest natural arches in the world.

Lake George, New York

The so-called "Queen of American Lakes" was the playground for the Golden Age robber barons, many of whose original stone waterfront mansions still stand on the site known as Millionaires Street. The Sagamore Resort, built in the 1880s, still welcomes guests. At Narrows, the southern Adirondacks compresses the lake into a thin patch dotted with islands of all sizes.

Lake Santeetlah, North Carolina

Deep in the Nantahala National Forest and surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains, Santeetlah Lake's wooded 122-kilometer shoreline is almost entirely protected from development. The result is an oasis of quiet for fishing, canoeing or kayaking, or simply relaxing on Cheoa Point Beach. This man-made lake, formed by the damming of the Cheoa River in 1928, remains remarkably untouched. Here you can watch otters, beavers, bald eagles and hawks.

Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming

Clear, deep and cold, Yellowstone Lake is located in one of the most geologically active areas in the world, overlooked by the Beartooth and Absaroka mountains. About 4 million visitors come to the national park every summer, but winter may well be the best time to visit the lake. Seething geysers along the West Thumb coastline look like multi-colored cauldrons in the snow, and steam eerily rises from the icy landscape. Indeed, this lake usually freezes within half a year.

Lake Superior, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin

Oero Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world (by surface area). And around every corner of its majestic 4,5 km long coastline, stunning views open up. Natural attractions include sandstone cliffs, beaches and waterfalls that tumble into a lake at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, sea caves at Apostle Islands; the isolated austerity of the Isle Royale with its wolves and elks. You can go hiking, by car, by kayak or by ferry to your desired destination. This lake is so big it can look more like an ocean - ask the intrepid North Shore surfers about it.

Flathead Lake, Montana

Flathead is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, with clear, crystal clear waters. It is located in the Flathead Valley near the Mission Mountains to the east and the Salish Mountains to the west. The lake is blessed with an unusually mild climate for an area so far north and inland. This allows it to be surrounded by orchards and vineyards on the east side. There is even a flat-headed monster in the lake, which, judging by some reports, may have a close relative living in Loch Ness.

However, it is more likely that you will see wild horses roaming the state park.

Crater Lake, Oregon

The birth story of Crater Lake is inscribed in its nearly circular 10 km diameter. The lake was formed nearly 8000 years ago when the volcanic Mount Mazama blew out its summit and left a smoldering caldera that eventually filled with rain and water from melting snow. At 592m, America's deepest lake is cut off from any flowing streams or rivers, so it remains remarkably clear.

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Visibility averages 30m and sunlight penetrates almost 120m down. For even more dramatic effect, two islands rise above the deep blue surface of the lake: the forested Wizard Island and the much smaller, almost barren Phantom Ship.

Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada

Surrounded by the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains and bathed in a palette of impressionist blues, Tahoe is the largest high-altitude lake in North America and the second deepest (500 m) in the United States. If it wasn't for the year-round cold water, you could swear you're swimming in the Caribbean. In winter, the nearby ski slopes offer breathtaking views of the lake.

Caddo Lake, Texas and Louisiana

Of the handful of cities on Caddo Lake, none captures the feel of the place better than Uncertain, Texas. Mystery seems to envelop every corner of the lake, where Spanish moss hangs like a drape from the tree branches in the world's largest cypress forest. It's actually not so much a lake as it is an interconnected labyrinth of streams, swamps and backwaters. Beer boats hid here during Prohibition. Alligators hide under barely flooded tree roots, frogs cling to water lilies, and here they allegedly saw Bigfoot. Pretty much the only way to appreciate the pristine beauty of the lake is by boat or canoe, but don't forget the map.

Mono Lake, California

Amidst an unassailable landscape of dusty desert, dry hills, and volcanic craters on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada, Mono Lake was all but destroyed by Los Angeles. When the water level plummeted, the eerie-looking tuff towers were exposed. These limestone columns form underwater when calcium-rich underground springs react with carbonate-rich lake water.

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They remain visible today, despite almost three decades of strict regulation to restore water levels in the "California Dead Sea". However, "dead" is a misnomer: each year, trillions of tiny brine shrimp and alkaline flies hatch in the lake's hypersaline water, devoid of fish (three times as salty as the ocean). They feed millions of birds at one of the most important migratory stops in North America.

Echo Lake, New Hampshire

In the southeast corner of the White Mountain National Forest, Echo Lake lies in the shadow of Whitehorse Ledge, whose reflection almost covers 6 hectares of water. Whitehorse and the nearby 200m Cathedral Ledge are popular climbing destinations. These sites reward tourists with great views of the lake below and the distant mountains. Autumn is especially beautiful when these slopes flare up in bright reds, yellows and oranges on the many hiking trails.

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