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10 Beautiful National Park Lakes to Explore This Summer

​When temperatures start to rise, activities on and around bodies of water are a natural draw.

By: Cairn Inc. + Save to a List

When it's time to spend the day exploring the best national park lakes, an awesome Cairn box is the perfect complement. The curated box of fresh, award-winning gear is the perfect mix of items that keep the good times going with sneaky technical features that are all business. So get geared up and check out the lakes below! 

Photo: Scott Kranz

Diablo Lake is a true gem in North Cascades National Park - from camping to hiking, backpacking, kayaking, paddle boarding, and canoeing, the variety of activities to enjoy make this a perfect destination for anyone.

Photo: Eric Johnson

Crater Lake is an absolutely breathtaking national park, perfect to visit year-round. Visitors can hike, trail run, camp, practice photography, or snowshoe and cross country ski in the winter.  

Photo: Kyle Frost

Young Lakes are the epitome of Yosemite high country. Set among jagged mountain peaks and verdant meadows, this is a great overnight that beats most of the typical Yosemite summer crowds. Bring a delicious dinner to eat under the alpenglow of the setting sun, and enjoy one of the most picturesque swims of your life.

Photo: Daniel Brittain

Between the clear waters and the gorgeous mountain backdrops, Jenny Lake is the perfect summer swimming location. Bring a fishing pole, swimsuit, and a picnic lunch--once you get to the lake, you won’t want to leave.

Photo: Noah Couser

Lake McDonald is the biggest lake in Glacier National Park, and offers visitors the chance to hike, camp, trail run, and swim. The best swimming hole is at Rocky Point, where there are plenty of small rocks to jump off of and a mind blowing array of striking scenery and vivid views.

Photo: Ryan McKinney

Why hike to just one lake when you can hit up four in a row?! Explore these gorgeous alpine lakes in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Photo: Jess Curren

Blind Ash Bay is nestled in Voyageurs National Park. This hike offers incredible views of the surrounding lakes as the trail meanders through a gorgeous boreal forest. If you visit in the summer, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for fresh wild blueberries and raspberries along the trail!

Photo: Justin Ritucci

Jordan Pond is a must-see if you are in Acadia National Park. Jordan Pond is one of the best places to catch a sunset in Acadia, and is a great stargazing location after the sun goes down. The shoreline of the pond offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests.

Photo: Brandon Dewey

Just outside Shenandoah National Park, the Charlottesville Reservoir offers a unique and enticing perspective on the Blue Ridge Mountains. Visitors can fish, hike, or trail run around the reservoir. This is a great location to explore year-round, but a trip in the fall guarantees exceptional autumn colors.

Photo: Jonathan Sinclair

Horseshoe Lake in Jasper National Park is the quintessential swimming hole: picture turquoise waters surrounded by beautiful peaks and thriving forests. This is a very popular cliff jumping location, and an easy trail around the lake provides ample space for visitors to spread out and enjoy seclusion. Bring a hammock, swimsuit, and a picnic dinner so that you can stay for sunset.

Cover photo: Daniel Brittain

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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