If you’re looking to escape the summer heat, then one of these six glorious waterway paradises is guaranteed to float your boat.
Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
Straddling the border of Nevada and California, magnificent Lake Tahoe and its 200 square mile surrounding landscape attracts over 2.7 million visitors a year, lured by sparkling blue waters, forest clad mountains and a wealth of outdoor pursuits. The 70 mile shoreline is a beach lover’s haven and a magnet for kayaking, boating, windsurfing and swimming fans from June to August. Bear in mind that the stunning crystal clear water is a tad chilly, even in high summer. Winter months bring the ski crowd flocking to the slopes of resorts such as Squaw Valley, Northstar and Heavenly. The north shore is popular for its laid back communities, upscale restaurants and chic boutiques whilst the south lake area boasts spa hotels, casinos and lively nightlife.
Lake Michigan, Michigan/Illinois/Wisconsin/Indiana
Mighty Michigan is the third largest lake in the U.S. and its shores are home to 12 million people. Spanning the states of Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin, it is fringed by freshwater sand dunes, savannah, forest and grassland prairie plus the vibrant cities of Chicago and Milwaukee. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a tranquil spot on the lake’s north east perimeter. Here you can enjoy sweeping unspoilt sandy beaches and climb towering sand dunes for splendid views across the water. Hike or bike the 20 mile Heritage trail and visit a working blacksmith forge in the nearby historical village of Glen Haven.
Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
A beautiful mountain landscape frames this 26 mile expanse of water. Along its 135 miles of shore you’ll find campgrounds, sandy beaches, hiking trails and parks with volleyball and tennis courts. Visitors can enjoy jet skiing, water skiing, stand up paddle boarding and sailing as well as fishing for chinook salmon, trout, and northern pike. The lake is home to swans and ospreys, and each winter around 200 migrating bald eagles descend on the area to feed on the resident spawning salmon. On the lake’s southern tip you’ll discover the picturesque town of Harrison, a popular stopover for cyclists on the scenic 72 mile Trail de Coeur d’Alene.
Finger Lakes, New York
The expansive Finger Lakes region comprises 11 inviting stretches of water surrounded by an undulating terrain of forests, waterfalls, gorges, farms and vineyards. Measuring 40 miles, Cayuga Lake is the longest in the area. Here you’ll find bike and hike trails, boating, trout fishing, and a host of prestigious vineyards. These comprise the renowned Cayuga Wine Trail, the oldest in the United States. Ithaca, on Cayuga’s southern shores, is a charming college town. It offers bohemian hospitality and a thrice weekly farmer’s market where you can sample locally grown produce. Visit nearby Robert H Treman State Park for tempting swimming holes, craggy gorges and a dozen plunging waterfalls, including 115 foot high Lucifer Falls.
Flathead Lake, Montana
A gloriously serene freshwater lake in north western Montana, framed by the Mission and Salish mountain ranges. 185 miles of shoreline is dotted with state parks, campgrounds, and picnic and recreation areas. The lake is a popular trout fishing spot and home to pike, bass, and yellow perch. Enjoy hiking and horseriding, rent boats, paddleboards and kayaks or swim from one of the many beaches. Flathead’s glacial waters can be nippy so you might want to hire a wetsuit. Take a boat to Wildhorse Island off the lake’s west shore. You’ll discover 2,000 acres of pine forest inhabited by bighorn sheep, mule deer, falcons and a few remaining wild horses, who were once pastured here by indigenous tribes.
Lake Powell, Utah/Arizona
This immense reservoir in the Colorado River boasts almost 200 miles of placid warm waters, dramatic red rock scenery and an impressive 2,000 miles of shoreline. Part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the manmade lake bridges northern Arizona and southern Utah and is a major vacation destination. It attracts three million visitors a year, enticed by calm, cooling waters and acres of space. A realm of activities includes hiking, boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, water skiing, swimming, and fishing for bass, catfish and walleye. Accommodation ranges from modest campgrounds to upscale lakeside resorts, or if budget allows, rent a houseboat and enjoy tranquil days and nights afloat.
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