People in the know who have traveled all over the world often find that when it comes to lake vacations, Idaho is an all-time favorite. It’s because of its diversity of lakes, which vary greatly in size, scenery and recreational opportunities. Idaho has a good combination of natural lakes as well as reservoirs.  We love lakes for their ability to be relaxing or active depending on your mood at that moment. There are lakes for every type of person – from fishermen looking for a day on the water to families with kids just wanting some time outdoors. Idaho boats Priest Lake, Bear Lake, Redfish Lake, Stanley Lake and hundreds more! Come explore what lakes Idaho has to offer.

So whether you’re looking for the clearest lake in Idaho with a sandy beach for some deep relaxation, or a secluded spot where you can spend time fishing between traversing amazing hiking trails, check out our list below. Idaho has some of the clearest lakes in the world, with beautiful surrounding mountain scenery. We’ll help you find the perfect lake in Idaho for your next getaway.

Find Idaho Lakes Near You


There are obviously a lot of choices when it comes to picking a lake, but we’ve tried to break up some of our favorites by category to help you with your decision.

The best lakes to visit in Idaho

One of the most popular lakes, Lake Cascade, which is home to Tamarack Resort and offers spectacular views of the Sawtooth Mountains. Boating, water skiing and swimming are all popular activities on the lake. A beautiful summer day spent with friends or family cannot be matched here! Another favorite is Payette Lake, with quiet wooded areas that attract backpackers looking to set up their own campsites for a few days of rejuvenation. It offers great fishing opportunities as well – perhaps you might even catch trout for dinner! The best part about lakes like these? You can enjoy them year round with snowmobiling in the winter and plenty of outdoor fun available during other seasons too.

The best Idaho lakes for swimming and relaxing

  • Lake Pend Oreille – This beautiful lake is in Northern Idaho and has numerous beaches that allow for swimming, boating, water skiing, and more. It’s also great for fishing; if you’re into that sort of thing.
  • Payette Lake – Sitting in Western Idaho lake, this sits right along the border with Washington state and provides amazing views. Perfect getaway location for a weekend getaway or vacation.

The best lakes in Idaho for fishing

  • Twin Lakes – These lakes are located just outside of Coeur d’Alene and are great for fishing, camping, boating, and hiking.
  • Priest Lake – This lake is right on the border with Canada and provides amazing views of the mountains. It’s also the perfect location for fishing, camping, hiking, etc.

The best lakes for boating in Idaho

  • Lake Coeur d’Alene – The largest lake in Idaho is also one of its best lakes for all-around fun. You can boat or jet ski to your heart’s content or sit back and relax on the beach.
  • Payette Lake – As previously mentioned this lake is great for boating as well as swimming/floating!

Best lakes for camping

  • Lake Pend Oreille – This lake has a ton of campsites and is the ideal location for spending the day on the water and camping out at night.
  • Priest Lake – Another great location for camping with plenty to offer in terms of lakeside fun. Priest Lake is also home to Priest Lake State Park, which offers camping.

Lake activities

While lakes often lend themselves to vacation plans, many lakes also offer a lot of different types of activities as well. For those who love boating and skiing, popular lakes like Lake Cascade offer water sports for both. Families or those seeking relaxation might be drawn to lakes that are more quiet – lakes where you can swim from the shoreline, boat around the lake and maybe even fish off the side of your own personal dock. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Canoeing: If you prefer something slower paced than boating but not as slow-paced as swimming, canoeing is a great option for time spent on the water. It offers opportunities to enjoy nature from up close with lakes offering opportunities to enjoy this activity at your own pace.
  • Fishing: While fishing is an activity for many lakes, it’s especially notable on Idaho lakes which are known nationally as great fishing spots. Whether you cast your line off the shoreline or go out in a boat, there are plenty of options available. Head to Payette Lake if you’re interested in fly fishing since the lake has some of the best trout waters – catch and release only!
  • Sailing/Yacht Charters: For those who want to take advantage of beautiful views around Idaho lakes without putting in any work, chartering a yacht might be just what you’re looking for. Chartering by itself is also another great activity you can enjoy on lakes that offer this service.
  • Swimming: Idaho lakes often have gorgeous beaches that attract swimmers and sunbathers from across the state. When you’re looking to get some time on the beach, lakes like Lake Cascade make for a great spot with its sandy shores and warm water perfect for enjoying summer days at the lake.
  • Tubing: If you’ve got a strong motor or want to rent one, tubing is another option available on lakes in Idaho. Payette Lake offers opportunities for many types of activities including tubing – just watch out for the speed limit!
  • Birdwatching: Lakes often support diverse wildlife due to wetlands and other areas around lakes where birds enjoy stopping by as fly through the area. Whether you’re looking to spot some common birds like ospreys or eagles, lakes are often great places for birdwatching.
  • Water Skiing/Snow Skiing: Idaho lakes are some of the best places to get out on the slopes in winter. With lakes like Lake Cascade offering water skiing opportunities, lakes offer a mixture of different types of winter activities.
  • Kayaking: For those looking for a more intimate experience on the water during summer months, kayaking can be a great option to explore lakes from up close and personal.

Why is it that lakes are so popular in Idaho? Because Idaho offers so many lakes with several recreational water activities. So no matter if you like in Idaho and are looking for a day trip, or you want to plan a destination vacation, find a lake Idaho that fit your fun!