Awe-inspiring lakes outside of Utah are worth a side trip for visitors wanting exceptional hiking trails, photography and wildlife viewing.
Nevada’s Lake Mead National Recreation Area
The lake was created when Hoover Dam was built. The largest man-made lake on the continent, it attracts scores of human and nonhuman visitors each year who rely on its bounty to survive. The water from Lake Mead and the Colorado River quenches the thirst of not only Las Vegas, but Southern California, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. It is also on the Western Flyway, so migrating birds use it as a home. It isn’t unusual to see bald eagles, sandhill crane, falcons, hummingbirds and seagulls along the shores. Lake Powell and Lake Mojave are also part of the Colorado River system.
Nevada’s Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is the jewel of Nevada. The leading alpine lake in North America and the principal freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevadas, it straddles California and Nevada. The only American lake that is deeper is that of Crater Lake in Oregon. Its pristine beauty, clear waters and surrounding forests make it one of the continent’s most beautiful lakes and attracts millions of visitors each year. Its charm may be its downfall, as the increased development surrounding it as well as the impact of heavy use has begun to degrade its ecosystem. Scientists estimate that it takes 650 years for its waters to regenerate.
Nevada’s Hidden Lakes
Hidden Lakes lie high in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada and are natural glacial tarns that flow into Soldier Canyon before merging with the Humbolt River. Griswold Lake is another Ruby Mountain tarn, but it flows into Butterfield Creek heading toward Pleasant Valley.
Arizona’s Lake Havasu
Lake Havasu in Arizona is one of the most popular lakes in the state. Kayak under the rebuilt London Bridge or through marshes to see endangered birds.
Utah & Idaho’s Bear Lake
Bear Lake is another natural lake that presents numerous recreational opportunities. The lake is split in two at the Idaho-Utah border. Idaho houses the Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge, while Utah has Bear Lake State Park.
The water contains suspended particles of calcium carbonate from the nearby limestone cliffs turning it a bright turquoise blue. The ancient lake is estimated to be at least 150,000 years old and is the largest freshwater lake in the state by volume of water with average depths of 84 feet. With four distinct seasons, Bear Lake supplies the usual activities as well as the chance to gorge on raspberries at the annual Raspberry Days Festival in nearby Garden City. Wildlife viewing is exceptional with moose, mule deer, and hundreds of birds including trumpeter swans, white pelicans, snowy egrets, sandhill cranes, herons, and one of the largest refuges