Wyoming may not be famous for its lakes — thanks to its rugged eastern plateau — but it does feature several beautiful ones. These lakes include not only those in the lush Yellowstone and Grand Teton area, but throughout the state as well. While these lakes aren’t surrounded by bustling waterfront towns, there are plenty of Wyoming vacation rentals and activities situated just a short drive away. That said, take a look at the best Wyoming lakes to visit.
1. Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake, located in the northwestern corner of Wyoming, lies in the middle of the Yellowstone National Park. Get a vacation rental on the north shore where the Yellowstone River meets the lake. You’re only a few minutes from the Fishing Bridge and Fishing Bridge Visiting Center, perfect for casting a line and learning about all the aquatic wildlife. Rent a boat or kayak at the Bridge Bay Marina and explore the lake in person. There are plenty of trails around the lake that you can hike or bike, or you can explore Lake Village. While it’s no more than a lodge and camping area, it does have a ranger station with ranger-led programs for the kids. To learn more about Yellowstone’s unique geology, head to the West Thumb part of the lake to explore the natural geysers and hot springs. Or make your way a little further west to Old Faithful, arguably the most famous geyser in the world.
2. Jackson Lake
Jackson Lake is also located in northwestern Wyoming just south of Yellowstone Lake and Yellowstone National Park in the Grand Teton National Park. Like Yellowstone Lake, Jackson Lake isn’t just about the water but about all the natural beauty that surrounds it such as Pilgrim Mountain, which you can hike. Start with a vacation rental at Colter Bay Village. Other than a few eateries and convenience stores, Colter Bay Village doesn’t boast urban fun, but it does have a marina where you can keep or rent a boat or go fishing (trout is plentiful). Try rafting down Snake River, which flows into the lake, with Mad River Rafting. If you need some supplies or want to take a break at a brewery or museum, head down to Jackson which boasts the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum and Snake River Brewing.
3. String Lake
String Lake, a minuscule lake in comparison to Jackson Lake to the north, is also located in the Grand Teton National Park. Opt for a house on the south side of the lake, just above Jenny Lake where you can get access to either easily. This lake boasts shallow, warm water, perfect for swimming and families with children. Better yet, you can pick up the Paintbrush Canyon Trailhead, Jenny Lake Trail, and Leigh Lake Trailhead feet from the lake for a great nature walk. The lack of towns surrounding the lake gives you plenty of peace and privacy, and you can always head down to Jackson to feel the small town vibe and eat out.
4. Phelps Lake
South of Jackson Lake in the Grand Teton National Park is Phelps Lake, another isolated body of water that offers swimming and canoeing. The lake boasts a jumping rock that you can use as a diving board. Phelps Lake is also a jumping off point for tons of hiking opportunities; hike up to the Phelps Lake Overlook, and then take the Death Canyon Trailhead through the rugged rocks and pine forests. If you have small children, opt for the Phelps Lake Loop Trail, a fairly easy hike with great views. Because there are no towns or vacation homes around the lake, you’ll have to get a place at Teton Village or Wilson to the south, not far from the lake.
5. Fremont Lake
Fremont Lake lies within the Wind River Mountain Range a few miles from Pinedale in west-central Wyoming just south of the Grand Teton National Park. As the second largest lake in the state, it has boat and water access via Lakeside Marina and Lower Boat Dock. In fact, if you get a lake house, you can moor your boat on your private pier for convenience. There’s also swimming (and beaches), kayaking, and fishing. Trout and salmon are both plentiful and summer fishing derbies draws in the angler enthusiasts. While paddling along the lake, keep your eyes peeled for eagles, black beers, and mule deer that live in the area. You can also get a rental in Pinedale, a quiet town just south of the lake, where there are restaurants and museums.
6. Brooks Lake
Brooks Lake is a little oasis of beauty among the rugged mountains of the Shoshone National Forest directly east of the Grand Teton National Park. This is a remote destination perfect for those who want to get a cabin in the woods and hike down (or make the short drive) to the lake for some fresh air, solitude, great views, and crystalline waters. The Continental Divide Trail starts at the lake, so you can do some hiking as well as swimming, kayaking, or fishing among the calm waters. There’s both a gravel beach and a boat launch available.
7. Bighorn Lake
Bighorn Lake lies in both northern Wyoming and southern Montana. Not only can you go boating, swimming, and fishing, the surrounding Bighorn Canyon is a fantastic place to hike and explore. While there are a few vacation rentals available around the lake, there are no working towns. However, there is a fascinating ghost town, Kane, that you can explore during your stay. You can also stay in Lovell, a few miles to the west. Here you can visit the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Visitor Center to get a feel for the area. Make sure to visit Horseshoe Bend, perhaps the most well-known part of the canyon. It has a marina where you can charter a boat to fish in the area; it boasts fish ranging from rainbow trout and yellow perch to smallmouth bass to shovelnose sturgeon.
8. Flaming Gorge Reservoir
Flaming Gorge Reservoir lies in southern Wyoming and northern Utah. The recreation area combines the Green River with the reservoir and the surrounding mountains to create a place full of activities from whitewater rafting and boating to hiking and horseback riding. Get a rental in Green River (the town) where the Green River (body of water) flows south to the reservoir. Here you can hop on a kayak or canoe and float right down to the reservoir. You can also get a rental in Manila, Utah, a short drive from the gorge.
9. Lake Marie
Lake Marie is located in southeastern Wyoming in the Medicine Bow National Forest west of Laramie and Cheyenne. Lake Marie lies within the Medicine Bow Range at Sugarloaf Mountain, an area inundated with lakes. This picturesque lake and its cascading stream are close to the road for easy access (although it’s closed in winter) and offers swimming and fishing. You can also pick up several hiking trails such as the Tipple Trail and the Medicine Bow Peak Trail. Centennial is a nearby town with several vacation rentals available, although the small size offers not much more than a few eateries and convenience stores.
10. Alcova Reservoir
Alcova Reservoir is located just southwest of Casper in central Wyoming. Not only does it offer several lakeside rentals and lies close to one of the biggest cities in the state, but it’s also next to the Pathfinder Reservoir and National Wildlife Refuge. There are swimming beaches, boat launches, and plenty of wildlife viewing areas. Go kayaking along the open-water wetlands, and view over 158 species of birds, dozens of native plants, and animals such as mule deer and pronghorn. Afterwards, head to Casper where you can explore the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center and Fort Casper Museum and Historic Site, both of which celebrate the region’s history.
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