Amidst the rugged mountains, rolling hills, verdant forests, and bustling cities of Idaho are numerous pristine lakes. Although the lakes vary significantly in size and elevation, they are all breathtaking and perfect for a summer or autumn getaway. Lakes located close to most Idaho vacation rentals offer plentiful opportunities for swimming, boating, fishing, water sports, and other family-friendly activities. Check out the most popular lakes in the state of Idaho.

1. Lake Coeur d’Alene

lake coeur d'alene
Source: Flickr / TravelingOtter

Lake Coeur d’Alene lies in northwestern Idaho near the border with Washington State. Most of the activity along its 25-mile expanse takes place at the northern end near the namesake city of Coeur d’Alene. Just Add Water Sports on the city waterfront rents power boats, pontoon boats, jet skis, tubes, and water sports equipment to help you have fun on the lake. For relaxing luxurious sightseeing journeys along the lakeshore along with drinks, snacks, and meals, join Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises. Fins and Feathers Tackle Shop and Guide Service provides you with the equipment and expert advice you need to enjoy fishing on Lake Coeur d’Alene. The Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course even has a famous floating green right out on the surface of the lake.

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2. Priest Lake

priest lake
Source: Flickr / Lee Stone

Surrounded by majestic mountain peaks, sapphire-blue Priest Lake sits in northwestern Idaho not far from the Canadian border. A narrow corridor of water connects the smaller Upper Priest Lake with the much larger Lower Priest Lake. The lake is popular year round. Summer activities include boating, fishing, hiking, and cycling, while visitors enjoy snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing in winter. Around the lake you can often spot moose, deer, and bears. Blue Diamond Marina near Coolin on the south shore rents power boats, fishing boats, jet skis, canoes, and kayaks. Rental canoes are also available at Priest Lake State Park on the east side of the lake. Priest Lake Excursions offers guided boating tours around the lake, while Rich Lindsey’s Priest Lake Guide Service leads you to the best places to fish for lake trout, cutthroat trout, and smallmouth bass.

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3. Payette Lake

payette lake
Source: Flickr / Jason W.

Located in the midst of the Payette National Forest in western Idaho, Payette Lake offers a wealth of activities in a scenic location. Mile High Marina, in the city of McCall on its southern shore, provides rentals of ski boats, pontoon boats, jet skis, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards. McCall Lake Cruises takes you on lake tours aboard a comfortable boat with a fully stocked bar. Rent bicycles and hiking gear to explore the many lakeside trails from Gravity Sports.

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4. Redfish Lake

redfish lake
Source: Flickr / Miguel Vieira

Spectacularly beautiful Redfish Lake lies surrounded by scenic mountains and forests in the midst of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in central Idaho. The Sawtooth Interpretive and Historical Association operates the Redfish Lake Visitors Center, which offers exhibits, tours, and a lovely nature walk. Redfish Lake Marina rents motorized and non-motorized boats, and Redfish Bike Rentals offers various types of bicycles to help you explore the lakeshore. Sandy beaches around the lakeside are ideal for swimming and sunbathing.

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5. Lake Cascade

lake cascade
Source: Flickr / Hugh Millward

Lake Cascade is framed by emerald hills and rugged mountains within the Boise National Forest in west-central Idaho. Lake Cascade Sport and Marine in Cascade rents boats to use on the lake in summer and snowmobiles to explore the shore in winter. Additionally, Mountain Meadows Adventure Rentals in Donnelly provides rentals of jet skis, kayaks, rafts, and stand-up paddleboards. Expert guides at Southern Idaho Fishing Excursions help you find the ideal locations to angle for Coho salmon, trout, and smallmouth bass.

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6. Lake Pend Oreille

lake pend oreille
Source: Flickr / Idaho Fish and Game

Lake Pend Oreille, the state’s largest lake, lies in the midst of the panhandle in northern Idaho surrounded by the Cabinet Mountains, the Coeur d’Alene Mountains, and the Selkirk Mountains. The town of Sandpoint is at the northwest end of the lake, and several other smaller towns are scattered around it. Lake Pend Oreille Cruises offers comfortable public and private excursions around this vast, spectacularly beautiful body of water. For a bird’s eye view of the lake, take an aerial tour with Sandpoint Seaplane Services out of Dover Bay Marina. Sandpoint Watercraft Rentals provides powerboats, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards. On the south side of the lake, watch for mountain goats on Bernard’s Peak near Bayview.

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7. Bear Lake

bear lake
Source: Flickr / J. Stephen Conn

Located in the southeastern corner of Idaho, turquoise-blue Bear Lake straddles the border of Idaho and Utah. At North Beach Bear Lake State Park is a beautiful two-mile stretch of sandy beach with a gradual slope that is ideal for family swimming, sunbathing, and water fun. Rent kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, stand-up paddleboards, and other recreational equipment at North Beach Rentals in the park. The lake is home to lake trout, cutthroat trout, and whitefish of record size. Around the lake are numerous trails for hiking and mountain biking.

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8. Lake Lowell

lake lowell
Source: Flickr / Laura Gilmore

Lovely Lake Lowell is in the midst of the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge on the western edge of the city of Nampa in southwestern Idaho. A visitor center at Lake Lowell provides exhibits and interpretive programs on the habitats and wildlife in the refuge. Swimming beaches are located near the East Upper Dam boat launch and at the Lower Dam Recreation Area. Trails around the lake are ideal for hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. You can rent mountain bikes or road bikes at Cafferty’s Cyclery in Nampa. At the park, watch for mule deer, bald eagles, Canadian geese, herons, and many species of songbirds.

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9. Lucky Peak Lake

lucky peak lake
Source: Flickr / Aaron Hawkins

Lucky Peak Lake is a long, narrow body of water that lies just beyond the eastern edge of the city of Boise. Outdoor Adventures Incorporated at Spring Shores Marina in Lucky Peak State Park offers rentals of boats and jet skis. At the southwest end of the lake, Discovery Park has a beautiful picnic area. Sandy Point near Lucky Peak Dam has a swimming area and volleyball courts. From the shore or from boats, fish for rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and kokanee.

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10. Henrys Lake

henry's lake
Source: Flickr / Jeff Jones

Breathtakingly beautiful Henrys Lake lies in the mountains in eastern Idaho near the border with Wyoming. The lake is renowned for its excellent fishing for brook trout, cutthroat trout, and other species. It’s also an excellent location for observing birds such as white pelicans, trumpeter swans, great blue herons, bald eagles, and red-tailed hawks. Rent motor boats, paddle boats, kayaks, and canoes at Wild Rose Marina.

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