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Halvor Tweto | 06.08.2015

Blue sky, radiant sun, breezes infused with the scent of evergreens, and cool, clear water. Mountain lakes are some of the best places to explore when the temperatures rise. Whether by stand-up paddleboard, kayak, or canoe, getting out on the water can be everything from a great workout to an efficient way to carry gear on a multi-day trip. And with the proliferation of rental options, getting on the water without having to own your watercraft and safety equipment has never been easier. You may even find options on-site, so you can skip the carry!

To help get your planning process kicked off, check out the list of gorgeous mountain lakes listed below. You'll easily find plenty more by using a few different search options.

  • Search by activity and select Canoe, Kayak + SUP to find all the flat water paddling adventures on Outdoor Project, and filter by region to get results closer to you.
  • Alternately, check out the Parks + Wilderness Areas activity and filter for Boat Ramps or Swimming Holes + Cliff Jumping with the same regional focus.

Paddling just off of Meeks Bay Beach, Lake Tahoe. Photo by Aron Bosworth.

However you find your paddle, be smart about the basics. Weather can change quickly at altitude, especially if you are in a region where summer afternoon thunderstorms show up. Headwinds can easily double the paddling time on your return trip; if they can't be avoided, try to take the headwind on your outbound paddle. Also, water temps may be a relief from the heat, but keep in mind that some lakes are much colder than you might assume, and over-committed swimmers can get themselves into serious situations. Long live the toe-dipper! Finally, while regulations will change by location and watercraft, a nearby personal floatation device is always essential.


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