15 Gorgeous Washington Lakes You Need to Visit In 2023!

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Living in Washington has its perks, from gorgeous Washington lakes with brilliant blue waters to stunning forests and magical coastal beaches. Washington is a naturally beautiful state and, honestly, one of the prettiest states in the United States.

It’s no wonder why so many people visit the evergreen state in search of some of the world’s most famous natural beauties like the Olympic National Forest, stunning coastal beaches, numerous hikes, and breathtaking views.

However, Washington is also home to some of the most stunning lakes in the united states. With crystal blue waters, breathtaking mountain backdrops, and green foliage extending for miles, it’s a no-brainer to take a road trip and visit some of Washington’s most famous lakes.

Not to mention the endless amounts of things you can do at the lakes and near them! Such as boating, kayaking, swimming, fishing, hiking, paddle boarding, and more!

Diablo Lake view
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10 Best Lakes in Washington

Diablo Lake and Ross Lake

The beautiful blue color of the lake is from the Diablo flower. The color arises due to the effect of sunlight on the suspended rock particles caused by the glacial mountains that flow ice into the lake. It’s a beautiful lake and a part of the North Cascades National Park, which is also one of our top recommendations for places to visit in Washington

Some of the trails here are going to be moderately difficult so be sure to come prepared with the proper footwear, trekking poles, sunglasses, sun hat, sunscreen, first aid kit, map, etc. as you should always be prepared for the worst case scenario.

If you would like to follow the main Diablo Lake Trail it will be roughly 7.5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 1400 feet making this a quite difficult trail so bring tons of water and take rest breaks as needed.

Lake size:23 mile long lake

Lake Location:

Located off highway 20, in the North cascades national park scenic byway

Ross Lake National Recreation Area is a part of the North Cascade National Park

From Seattle: Roughly 2.5 hour drive from Seattle, WA.

From Vancouver: Approximately 5 hours from Vancouver, WA.

From Spokane: About 6.5 hours from Spokane, WA.

Lake Facts:

Dogs allowed? Yes, on leash.

Recreational pass or parking pass needed? None

Activities and sights: Waterfalls, Mountain views, hiking trails, fishing, boating, kayaking, swimming, tours,

Before enjoying the sites and hiking to your heart's content, check out the best time to visit Washington. With rain and storms, it's best to go during different parts of the year for other things. 

Blanca Lake

This is a very difficult hike so remember to bring extra water, comfortable shoes, weather appropriate clothing, first aid kit, sunscreen, trekking poles, and other necessary hiking gear.

When we did this hike, we were, Make sure to bring Road Trip Snacks that will last the hike!

Remember, if swimming to be extra careful as lakes can look calm from above, but under the surface can have very dangerous currents. Always wear a life vest if planning to swim or get in the water in any capacity.

Located in the Central Cascades just West of Steven Pass.

From Seattle: Roughly 2 hour drive from Seattle, WA.

From Vancouver: Approximately 4.5 hours from Vancouver, WA.

From Spokane: About 5 hours from Spokane, WA.

Recreational pass needed? Northwest Forest pass

Campgrounds? Yes at established campsites

Dogs allowed? Yes, on leash.

Amenities: Toilets at trailhead,

Activities: Hiking, Swimming

Sites to see:Waterfalls, lakes, old growth forests.

Lake Wenatchee
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Lake Wenatchee

This lake is located in a State Park meaning there are tons of activities like camping, picnics, hiking and biking trails, fishing, swimming, and more available! The lake has a boat launch for any boated wishing to hit the water. The water in the lake is very cold and is going to be a nice dark blue color.

Lake Location

Located near the Central Cascade Mountains in Lake Wenatchee State Park.

From Seattle: Approximately 2.5 hours from Seattle, WA.

From Spokane: About 3 hours and 45 minutes from Spokane, WA.

From Vancouver: Approximately 4.5 hours from Vancouver, WA.

Lake Size:The lake is 200 feet deep in its deepest areas and about 5 miles long.

Recreational pass needed? Discover pass

If you will be fishing don’t forget to purchase a WDFW Fishing License from an authorized dealer or you can purchase them online to receive in the mail.

Campgrounds? Yes

Dogs allowed? Yes, on leash

Amenities: Restrooms, Picnic areas, fire rings, campsites, boat launch, kayak and paddleboard rentals, hiking trails and more!

Activities: Fishing and wind surfing are popular. The state park has kayak and paddleboards you can rent if you didn’t bring your own. There are also tons of hikes are located within the State Park. Other activities available include horseback riding, swimming and camping amongst other things.

Blue lake

Lake Location: Blue Lake is located in the North Cascades just off Highway 20.

Recreational passes needed? Northwest forest pass

Campgrounds? Yes.

Dogs allowed? Yes, on leash

Amenities: toilet,

Activities: Hiking, wildlife viewing,

Sights to see: Lakes, meadows, Mountain views

Baker Lake
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Baker lake

This is a very popular lake during the summertime for cool water, swimming and stunning views of Mount Baker from the lake. If you so wish to hike there is a 14 mile long main trail called Baker Lake trail that has amazing views of the Mountain, old growth forests and of course the beautiful Baker Lake.

Lake Location: Baker lake is located in the North Cascade Scenic Byway on the west side off of highway 20 in Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest.

Lake size: 9 miles long

Campgrounds? Yes.

Recreational pass needed? Northwest forest pass

Amenities: Established campsites, toilets

Activities: Hiking trails, camp, swim, picnic,

Lake Chelan
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Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan is really quite the lake. This is the everyone has heard of it lake that exists in Washington State. It’s also a very popular vacation spot as there are many activities to do to have fun at the Lake.

The special characteristics about Lake Chelan that make it unlike any other lake in Washington are the water properties, size of the lake and the surroundings of the lake. To start this lake is going to be the clearest lake in all of Washington State due to the properties of the water. Basically, long story short. the water is low in phosphorous and other nutrients which makes the water clear.

Another crazy thing about Lake Chelan is that the lake is so big at 50.5 miles long and roughly 1500 feet deep with about 1 mile width. The lake is so big that it spans through a few different cities and is by far the biggest and deepest lake in all of Washington State which is quite the feat.

Lake Location: Chelan County in Central Washington.

From Seattle: Roughly 4.5 hours from Seattle, WA.

From Vancouver: Approximately 7 hours from Vancouver, WA.

From Spokane: About 4 hours 15 minutes from Spokane, WA.

Lake size: 50.5 mile lake

Recreational pass needed? Discover pass

Dogs allowed? Yes, on leash.

Amenities: Picnic area., restrooms,

Activities: Boating, fishing, swimming, bird watching, wildlife viewing, SUP and Kayak rentals, grab food or drinks at a number of popular destinations for tourists.

Lake Crescent one of the best lakes in Washington

Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent is a crystal blue lake located in the Northwestern area of Washington State just 18 miles from the city of Port Angeles. The Lake is home to many special species of fish, trail routes and has great views of mountains. There are also tons of activities to purse here such as hiking, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, biking, wildlife viewing and so much more!

Lake Crescent is the perfect outdoor getaway between the amazing mountain views, the beautiful crystal blue water to the forests and wildflowers. Plus, being located less than 20 miles from Port Angeles means there is civilization pretty close by and there are typically a lot of people on the trails.

Nearby trails and sights to see: The Spruce Railroad Trail, Marymere Falls, Devils Punchbowl and Mount Storm King.

Location: Located in the Olympic National Park just 18 miles west of Port Angeles, WA.

From Seattle: If driving from Seattle it will take about 3 hours to get to Lake Crescent. Note there are ferrys that can be taken from Seattle to Port Angeles and then you can drive the rest of the way.

From Vancouver: This trip will take approximately 4.5 hours from Vancouver, WA to Crescent Lake.

From Spokane: This is quite the drive with drive time from Spokane, WA to Crescent lake being about 7 hours.

Lake size: Crescent Lake is just under 12 miles long and has a depth of 624 feet making it the second deepest lake in Washington State just after Lake Chelan.

Recreational passes required: Since Lake Crescent is located within Olympic National Park you will need an “America the Beautiful” pass or you will need to purchase a vehicle pass. The vehicle pass should be purchased online and printed out ahead of time. If the pass is not printed then they will charge an entry fee to access Olympic National Park.

Amenities: Toilet, parking at trailhead

Dogs allowed? Yes, on leash.

Activities: Boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, photography, wildlife and bird viewing, camping, picnics,

When you are done with Lake Crescent, head on over the western shores of Washington! Where almost all the best beaches in Washington are located!
Such as: 

- La Push Beach, Don't forget to stop by Forks Washington!

- Kalaloch Beach and the Tree of Life! This is a site of wonder!

-Ruby beach, featuring beautiful Giant Rocks, a Hidden Beach Cove, and stunning ocean 

-Rialto Beach, with mounds of driftwood and stormy waters, this beach is absolutely gorgeous. 
Tipsoo Lake
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Tipsoo Lake

Glacier-carved lake with beautiful wildflower meadows around it. Make sure to visit during mid-July for the peak bloom of the wildflowers. This Lake is located in Mount Rainier National Park, Which is a fantastic Road Trip From Seattle if you live there!

Location: Mount Rainier National Park – Chinook Pass

From Seattle: This trip takes about 3.5 hours to get to Tipsoo Lake from Seattle, WA.

From Vancouver: This trip takes nearly 4.5 hours from Vancouver, WA.

From Spokane: It will take approximately 4.5 hours to get to Tipsoo Lake from Spokane, WA.

Recreational passes required: Since Tipsoo Lake is located in Mount Rainier National Park you must purchase an “America the Beautiful” pass or pay an entrance fee to get into Mount Rainier National Park. Entrance fee can be purchased per person or per vehicle. To use campgrounds you must also pay a fee. Staffing at pay booths is garaunteed during the day but if entering at night then be sure to purchase a pass ahead of time online and print it out.

Best time to visit: Summer

Dogs allowed? Partially allowed. Dogs are allowed on Pacific Crest Trail but not on Naches Peak Trail or on the Tipsoo Lake Trail around the lake.

Sights to see: Lakes, wildflowers, Mount Rainier views,

Amenities: Benches, seating, car parking, picnic tables, toilet, campgrounds.

Activities: There are tons of easy hikes near and surrounding the lake such as the Naches Peak Loop trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Eastside trail. You can also go swimming

Banks Lake
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Banks Lake

This lake is located in Steamboat Rock State Park just near the Grand Coulee so you can imagine that there are tons of fun things to do and see in the area. The area of Steamboat Rock State Park was created during the ice age flooding which makes it a site of great historical importance.

The park is located just off of the Grand Coulee dam so you can take a small trip to see the dam during your excursions at Steamboat Rock. Banks lake was created as a reservoir for the Grand Coulee as part of the Columbia Basin project.

There are several boat launches plus kayak and paddleboard rentals available at Banks Lake so all boaters and kayakers alike can get out on the water. The summer time is certainly the best time to visit the area but the winter is known to be super popular for Ice fishing. The park is a world of wonder for most of us who’ve never been but for the Eastern Washington locals this is their favorite and their go to state park for some outdoors fun.

Location: Steamboat Rock State Park near the Grand Coulee

From Seattle: To get to Banks Lake from Seattle, WA it will take approximately 3.5 hours.

From Vancouver: This trip from Vancouver, WA to Banks Lake will take approximately 5.5 hours.

From Spokane: Banks Lake is a 2 hour drive from Spokane, WA.

Season: Summer, Winter is good for ice fishing

Recreational passes required: Discover pass

Dogs allowed? Yes, on leash.

Campgrounds? Yes, but there are fees for the campsites so be sure to check online that there are still campsites available for reservation.

Amenities: Hiking trails, campgrounds, fishing pier, toilets.

Activities: Fishing, hiking, swimming, boating, waterskiing, wildlife viewing, sports courts (basketball, volleyball), rock climbing, horseback riding, kayaking, paddling, bird watching, mountain biking and more!

Sights to see: Lakes, wildlife, Grand Coulee dam, Ice Age forged landscapes.

Lenore Lake

Lenore lake is an 8 mile long lake in Grant County in the lower part of the Grand Coulee. The lake is great for fishing, swimming and hiking. There are tons of nice hiking trails where you can see wildflowers, wildlife and amazing views.

The lake was formed during the Ice Age from the great Missoula floods so this means the lake was carved out by history and deserves to be seen after all it went through to be formed. One of the most famous piece of the Lenore Lake area is the Lenore Caves. The caves were also formed during the flooding when the floods removed pieces of basalt from the walls of the surrounding Coulee.

Location: Grant County Washington in the lower Grand Coulee.

From Seattle: To travel to Lenore Lake from Seattle, WA it should take around 3 hours.

From Vancouver: From Vancouver, WA to Banks Lake it will take approximately 5 hours.

From Spokane: To get to Lenore Lake from Spokane, WA it will take nearly 2 hours.

Lake size: 8 miles long and 27 feet deep.

Season: Summer

Recreational passes required: Discover pass

Dogs allowed? Yes, on leash.

Campgrounds? No

Amenities: Hiking trails, toilets, parking.

Activities: Fishing, hiking, swimming, bird watching, wildlife viewing.

Sights to see: Lakes, wildlife, Grand Coulee dam, Ice Age forged landscapes.

5 Lakes near Seattle, Washington

Lake Washington
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Lake Washington

This is a huge lake surrounding Seattle, Bellevue, Mercer Island, Renton and so many other cities. The lake itself is home to many species of fish and is a very popular boating destination. The lake is the host of the annual Seafair boat races where you can also see the Blue Angels fly and zip past you from above.

The University of Washington is located just near this lake where you can also rent canoes, kayaks and paddle boards from so you can get out on the water. There are tons of other rental locations for this lake but the UW one is by far a favorite of ours.

Where: Seattle, Bellevue, Renton, Mercer Island, Kirkland and more.

Season: Year Round

Cost: Paid Parking or free depending on where you park.

Lake size: 20 miles long roughly with a maximum depth of 214 feet.

Dogs allowed? Yes, on leash.

Lake Sammamish
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Lake Sammamish

Lake Sammamish is the perfect destination located just 25 minutes outside of Seattle. The Lake is located within Lake Sammamish State Park and with a state park comes tons of things to do such as biking, kayaking, hiking, boating, picnicking, playing baseball and more!

Where: Lake Sammamish State Park

From Seattle: Roughly 25 minutes depending on traffic.

From Spokane: About 4 hours to Lake Sammamish from Spokane, WA.

From Vancouver: Roughly 2.5 hours from Vancouver, WA.

Season: Summer

Recreational pass required: Discover pass

Amenities: Hiking trail, restroom, playground

Dogs allowed? Yes, on leash.

Lake Union
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Lake Union

Lake Union is a park located near downtown Seattle where lots of boaters, boat homes and hydroplanes hang around. The Lake itself is very popular due to the great views of Seattle and the famous Gasworks Park, where 4th of July fireworks are held for Seattle.

Gasworks park sits right on Lake Union with the perfect backdrop of the Seattle Skyline just behind the Lake. The Gasworks coal gasification plant use to be located here hence why it is called Gas Works park. There is an annual fourth of July fireworks show here at Gasworks park which is absolutely gorgeous seeing the Seattle Skyline at night with fireworks shooting into the sky and the lights reflecting off of the water of Lake Union.

Where: Seattle

Season: Year Round

Cost: Free

Dogs allowed? Yes, on leash.

With all this natural beauty, it's a no-brainer why Washington is one of the top cities in the US to Visit!
Lake Cushman
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Lake Cushman

This is a popular lake located in the Olympic National Forest known for fishing, hiking, boating, kayaking and picnicking. The shorelines of the lake are surrounded by forest while the lake itself has beautiful clear blue water.

There are tons of cabins and resorts located nearby for a nice quiet getaway otherwise you can hit the campgrounds and get your full dose of nature that way if thats more your style.

Where: Olympic National Forest

From Seattle: Approximately 2 hours.

From Vancouver: Roughly 2.5 hours.

From Spokane: About 5.5 hours.

Season: Summer

Dogs allowed? Yes, on leash.

Cost: You should purchase an “America the Beautiful” pass, a “Olympic National Forest” pass or pay an entrance fee to get into Olympic National Forest ahead of time. If purchasing online be sure to print out your pass incase you don’t have cell service.

Green Lake

Green Lake is a popular destination in the Northern Seattle area. A paved pathway surrounds the entire lake, perfect for walking, bike riding, skateboarding, and fishing. When you’re at the Lake, it’s so quiet and serene, minus the occasional ducks quacking, which is actually kind of nice to hear in a city full of loud noises. If you love water, then stop at Golden Gardens Beach, It’s a popular Beach in Washington that locals love visiting.

Plus, the best part? It's free! For other cool things to do in Seattle while on a budget read our guide on Cheap and Free Things To Do in Seattle!

Where: North Seattle

Season: Year Round

Dogs allowed? Yes, on leash.

Lake size: The lake is a circular shape so the circumference of the pavement surrounding the lake is just under 3 miles.

Cost: Free

Washington Lakes FAQ

What is the cleanest lake in Washington?

Lake Chelan has very clean and clear water despite the influx of people visiting the lake year after year.

What are some major lakes in Washington?

Lake Chelan, Lake Washington,

What is the biggest lake in Washington state?

Lake Chelan

How many lakes does Washington have?

There are officially over 8000 lakes in the State of Washington.

What is the deepest lake in Washington state?

The deepest lake in Washington is Lake Chelan at a depth of 1486 feet.

What is the coldest lake in Washington?

Avalanche lake is by far the coolest lake in Washington with a low average of -8 degrees celsius to a high average of 16 celsius.

What is the Super Clear lake in Washington?

Lake Chelan is the clearest lake in Washington State due to its lack of nutrients within the water. The lack of nutrients within the water prevents algae growth amongst other things that would otherwise affect the clarity of the water.

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