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The Best Lakes to Camp at in The United States

We’ve listed the best lakes to camp at in the United States to inspire you to take that camping trip you’ve been thinking about.

As cheesy as it is, it’s an undeniable truth that ‘you only live once’ – something we can all agree on, right? So why not make the most of your life and spend quality time with your loved ones, taking a break from mundane routines and crazy city-life?

best lakes to camp at in the united states

The United States is home to gorgeous lakes with perfect camping sites. Clear atmospheres and cool breezes at these sites clear your mind to think differently and escape the stress that might be eating you up.

But once you’ve decided to treat yourself to a getaway, choosing the perfect site for your holiday can be a bit of a hassle. We are, however, more than willing to help you out. Having found the cleanest lakes in the United States and the Most Beautiful Lakes, here is our honest opinion on the best lakes to camp at in the United States.

So, buckle up to learn about the best lakes to camp in the United States and how to make the most of these sites with your loved ones!

best lakes to camp at in the united states

Key Points

LakeLocationNoteworthy Features
Diablo LakeWashingtonMesmerizing blue water, surrounded by snow-capped peaks, great hiking opportunities
Lake WinnipesaukeeNew HampshireLargest lake in New Hampshire, numerous islands, water sports, fishing, and hiking opportunities
Flathead LakeMontanaStunning mountain views, crystal clear water, abundant water sports and fishing activities
Shasta LakeCaliforniaBeautiful landscapes, great road trip, boating, fishing, hiking, and visit to limestone caves
Jenny LakeWyomingBreathtaking view, second largest lake in Grand Teton National Park, hiking, boating, and wildlife sightseeing
Lake GeorgeNew YorkParadise-like surroundings, ample recreational activities, including hiking, boating, and historical sites
Lake LivingstonTexasSecond largest lake in Texas, offers a variety of water sports, fishing, hiking, and a national forest to explore

7 Best Lakes to Camp at in the United States

Now that you’ve zipped up your backpack with camping essentials (excluding the outdoor paraphernalia, of course), it’s time for you to pick a camping spot and pitch your tent. 

Mother nature has blessed the United States with countless treasures of greenery and water bodies. So, choosing the right camping site for you, out of thousands of options available at your disposal, can be a little overwhelming. 

But, don’t worry because we’re here to guide you through the best lakes to camp at in the United States. This will help you to narrow down your choices and to pick the that’s the best fit for you and your camping buddies.

Let’s get to it!

#1 Diablo Lake – Washington

Diablo Lake Washington

If you’re a person who loves hiking, Diablo Lake in the Northern Cascade Mountains of Washington would be the perfect place for you to camp. 

The mesmerizing scenic beauty of the area is a result of the towering snow-capped peaks with heaps of lush and evergreen vegetation surrounding the lake. Moreover, the vibrant blue color of the water will have an incredibly calming effect on your soul. 

The water gets its flashy turquoise-blue color from the surrounding ice-capped mountains that propel finely ground rocks into the lake, which, when settled onto the waterbed, gives the brilliant tint to it. 

This lake is a perfect camping site due to its direct connection with North Cascades Highway, making it easily accessible. At the same time, the great boating and hiking opportunities compel campers to have a great time. 

For instance, the Diablo Lake Trail provides an excellent opportunity for visitors to fulfill their dream of hiking in the beautiful tree-laden mountains with occasional views of the waterfall in the areas surrounding the trail. 

Moreover, the Colonial Creek Campground provides numerous services to visitors to make their camping experience a whole lot better. It’s undoubtedly one of the best lakes to camp at in the United States.

#2 Lake Winnipesaukee – New Hampshire

Lake Winnipesaukee

If you want to explore the largest lake in New Hampshire with around 264 mini islands, Lake Winnipesaukee would be the perfect place to pay a visit.

This lake offer campers the best camping, swimming, fishing, and hiking opportunities. One also can’t forget to mention the breathtaking scenic view of the area covered with aqua-blue water and lush green vegetation. 

Irrespective of the current season, the lake has something to offer: water sports and fishing in the summer and ice skating and skiing in the winter.

Additionally, the surroundings of this lake are equipped with numerous recreational activities, such as a zip line in the Gilford area. Moreover, the Lakes Region Tour Scenic Drive gives a complete tour of the lake’s surroundings to witness the beautiful places in the area.

A vast array of fish species, including salmon, trout, pickerel, and perch, are available if you just have a little patience and fishing equipment. It will make your picnic even better since the time you spend fishing and then cooking the scrumptious meals will give you unforgettable memories.

#3 Flathead Lake – Montana

Flathead Lake Montana

A lake that offers everything an adventurer loves, be it the beautiful landscape or tons of varieties of recreational activities. We’re talking about the 30 miles long and 300 ft deep Flathead Lake surrounded by gorgeous mountains shielded with tall evergreen trees. 

The panoramic view of the surroundings, coupled with the crystal clear water surface showing the reflection of the perfect ice-capped peaks, is a dream landscape for every traveling enthusiast.

Moreover, if you love water sports, just think of any activity, and you’ll find that Flathead Lake offers them all! The ideal water temperature in summer is enough to rid your body of the blazing heat of the sun with just a dip.

The 185-mile-long shoreline of the lake has everything you could need, ranging from camping to hiking and fishing. 

The numerous state parks, including the Wayfarers State Park, Finley Point State Park, and Big Arm State Park, all located within the lake’s vicinity, are a must to visit since they incorporate a number of recreational facilities – including wildlife sightseeing.

Moreover, skiing and ice fishing are other wonderful aspects of the place that can make your vacation highly memorable, even if you go during an icy winter.

#4 Shasta Lake – California

Shasta Lake

Being the third-largest water body in California, Shasta Lake is the perfect camping spot for your vacation. 

Not only is the view of the area mesmerizing, but the road trip leading to this incredible campsite is full of beautiful landscapes and sceneries that will leave you in awe of nature’s wonders.

So, if you’re looking for the perfect weekend getaway, consider putting Shasta Lake on the top of your bucket list of places to visit. 

Moreover, the 360-mile-long shoreline along the lake is encapsulated with numerous evergreen trees, perfect hiking trails, and camping grounds to fulfill your dream of an adventurous day out.

The perfect hiking and biking spots at Shasta Lake, coupled with the numerous campgrounds such as Bailey Cove, Clikapudi, and Waters Gulch, will absolutely make your journey to the lake worthwhile. 

Moreover, the Dry Fork Creek Trail and The Fishermans Point give fantastic swimming and fishing opportunities. 

Also, if you want to explore the gems nature has hidden around this lake, go boating! 

Besides, a visit to the network of limestone caves, known as the Lake Shasta Caverns is a must due to their impressive geographical appearance. Moreover, the Burney Falls at the Burney Falls State Park in Shasta Lake is the most important tourist attraction due to its stunning view.

#5 Jenny Lake – Wyoming

Jenny Lake

Being the second largest lake in the Grand Teton National Park, Jenny Lake has a spellbinding view to offer since it is the epitome of the beauty of its area. 

Suppose you want to witness snow-capped peaks encircling rich blue water filling the whole horizon in front of you. In that case, Jenny Lake will prove to be the perfect spot for your summer getaway!

Being the most precious tourist attraction, the lake is crowded in almost every season. So, if you want a peaceful day out while enjoying a long hike within the lush and evergreen mountains, you must visit the park early in the morning. 

Besides, if you take it from us, watching the sun rise over the mountains is a scenery you wouldn’t want to miss!

Likewise, Jenny Lake is famous for its fantastic hiking trails and boating facilities. If you take a morning hike in this area, don’t forget to visit the Hidden Falls and the Inspiration point. You will be spellbound by the breathtaking view from that part of the mountains!

Moreover, if you want a refreshing view of the whole lake, put on your life jacket and hop into the boats to fulfill your desire to peek at the most beautiful creations of nature. 

#6 Lake George – New York

Lake George

If you want to get a glimpse of paradise on earth, Lake George should be your go-to destination in the American lands. The number of wild adventures and scenic beauty it has to offer will make you ecstatic!

Being home to numerous other islands and mesmerizing vegetation, Lake George has something to offer everyone. Be it camping, cruising, hiking, or fishing; you won’t regret coming to this place to spend quality time with your friends and family. 

With the plethora of Adirondack mountains encircling the lake with numerous Islands in its vicinity, the place is a perfect campsite that offers several recreational activities. 

The Hurricane Harbor amusement park, Lake George Expedition Park, and Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course are some of the amazing places you could visit with your family. 

The summers call for parasailing high over the lake, but if you’re too scared to do that, consider cruising on the most famous shoreline surrounding Lake George. 

Moreover, if you’re longing for a perfect hike into the mountains, the trail leading to Shelving Rock Falls will refresh your soul. It offers a clean environment and a breathtaking view of the surrounding vegetation. 

Lastly, if you’re fond of exploring historical sites, Fort William Henry will unleash the hidden historian inside you. It will make you feel the struggles of the French and Native American forces at war with each other.

#7 Lake Livingston – Texas

Lake Livingston

Being the second largest lake in Texas, Lake Livingston is the perfect vacation spot covering 93,000 acres of land. 

With the abundant biking and hiking facilities coupled with boating and fishing across the shore, the lake has everything a traveler would need.

You’ll be able to find all sorts of water sports in Lake Livingston, be it jet skiing, kayaking, or sailing. The famous white bass species of fish reportedly resides in the deep waters of this lake, making fishing an incredible experience for tourists.

When you dip in the water to escape the scorching heat, you can also witness beautiful marine life under the crystal-clear lake water. 

Besides, the Babka Trail, Trinity Trace Trail, and Piney Woods Boardwalk Trail would fuel your passion for trekking in deep woodlands. The landscape is covered with lush and evergreen vegetation, and surrounded by wild birds, such as woodpeckers. 

In addition, if you spend the night camping under the canopy of stars glistening through the deep black skies, you will definitely forget the worries of your daily life.

Moreover, the 160,000-acre Sam Houston National Forest at the site of Lake Livingston is an incredible sightseeing experience that all ages will enjoy.

The plethora of recreational activities inside the forest, coupled with the unique species of the wild, will make this an unforgettable trip. 

A Guide to Packing the Camping Essentials

Camping near a lakeside sounds all fun until you actually go there and forget to bring some really important stuff with you. A mistake like this might ruin the whole trip for you.

We don’t want you to be caught with “your pants down” so to speak so here are some tips!
Make sure you’re all equipped with the basic stuff you need before moving to a campsite, follow the basic guidelines given below to make yourself feel right at home even in a tiny tent on the hills!

#1 Pack Proper Clothing

camping gear

No matter how warm-blooded you think you are, camping on a lakeside means you’ll have to endure extremely low temperatures and cool water breezes coming your way. So, make sure to pack some jackets, mufflers, and gloves with you to beat the cold off at night. 

Besides, lakeside camping calls for swimming in the deep blue waters. Thus, packing a swimsuit and lots of toiletries, including towels, shampoo, and soap is a must.

Moreover, packing the right pair of shoes can make your trip a lot better, and prevent sulky mood-swings. Hence, sneakers, flip-flops, and hiking boots would do the job for you. After all, you don’t want to end up with swollen feet after a long trek.

#2 Get Hold of Basic Outdoor Paraphernalia

camping gear

No matter how great facilities your campsite may provide, there are some items that you must remember to be on the safe side. 

For instance, if your camping agency provides you with tents to sleep in, don’t forget to bring a blanket and pillow with you. In fact, keeping a spare tent may come handy as well. You never know what might happen!

Water coolers to meet your drinking needs and lanterns to provide you with light in the dark are also essential stuff to bring with you.

#3 Cooking Essentials to Enjoy your Favorite Feast


Lighting up the camp fire and slow-cooking food while you camp has its own charm. If you don’t like the idea of firewood for cooking, a gas stove with fuel can do the job for you. 

On top of everything, keeping extra matchsticks and a lighter with you should be your top priority (unless you know the ancient way of generating fire by rubbing stones together).

Other essential cooking equipment include cooking utensils (just the basic ones), disposable crockery, garbage disposal bags, and tissue paper.

#4 Never Forget First-Aid

YouTube video

Camping isn’t entirely safe, you may have small accidents and you may hurt yourself at the site in any way – be it a simple scratch on your skin or a feeling of nausea due to water sickness or food poisoning. 

So, it’s best to be prepared beforehand for any challenge that awaits you. 

A first-aid kit with the basic medical stuff, including band-aids, disinfectants, digestive pills, and painkillers, should be the first thing to pack before you leave for the campsite. 

#5 Only Grab the Necessary Electronic Gadgets

best lakes to camp at in the united states

A smartphone is something you would never leave at home because that’s how important it is for your safety. Moreover, a digital camera to capture every moment of your trip is highly imperative to record your memories and cherish them later.

However, the lack of electricity on camping sites means you cannot charge your gadgets once they die. So, make sure to pack a power source (e.g a generator or a power bank) and some extra batteries with you.

An important tip: Avoid updating your social media every second of your trip to prevent your mobile phone from dying off very quickly! (And to make sure that you’re living in the moment). 

If you’re still not convinced, click here for a detailed checklist of stuff to pack for camping.

The Final Word

best lakes to camp at in the united states

Nature has made this world a beautiful place in every aspect. Regardless of where you reside in the United States, mesmerizing landscapes await you in every corner of the state. The very best lakes to camp at in the United States are spread out all over the country, there’s bound to be one near your hometown.

So, if you need a break from the hectic life of the city, camping in the hillsides surrounding the beautiful and clear water bodies will refresh your mind and soul.

Not only is it a way to relieve your mind from work stress, but also a way of spending time with your loved ones. Something that can be hard to squeeze in with everybody’s routines and busy work schedules.

So, stop staring at your computer or phone. Pack your suitcases and visit your dream destination with your family or friends to enjoy the time of your life and make unforgettable memories. 

Thank you for reading this article! To discover more of the mesmerising nature that the United States have to offer take a look at The Fastest Rivers in the United States.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it legal to camp anywhere in the US?

Camping regulations vary across the United States, and it is generally not legal to camp anywhere you please. Most camping in the US is done in designated campgrounds or public lands managed by federal, state, or local agencies. Dispersed camping (camping outside of designated campgrounds) is allowed in some national forests and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, but there are specific rules and guidelines that must be followed. It is essential to research and obtain information about camping regulations and permitted areas before setting up camp.

What are the prettiest states to camp?

The prettiest states to camp in the US are subjective and depend on individual preferences. However, some states are renowned for their scenic beauty and excellent camping opportunities. States like Colorado, California, Oregon, Montana, and Utah are often considered among the most beautiful for camping due to their diverse landscapes, including mountains, forests, deserts, and stunning national parks

Do you need a permit to camp in Land Between the Lakes?

Yes, a permit is required for camping in the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. The recreation area is managed by the US Forest Service, and camping permits can be obtained from the visitor centers or by making reservations online. It’s important to check for specific rules and regulations regarding camping and permits in the Land Between the Lakes to ensure a smooth and enjoyable camping experience

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