Awe-Inspiring Alaska Lakes
By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley
After surviving a long, dark, blisteringly cold Alaska winter, nothing feels better than soaking up hours of sunshine amid any of these incredible Alaska lakes. While all of these bodies of water offer exceptional views—the fun doesn’t end there. Activities such as kayaking, hiking, fishing, camping, biking, canoeing, and even swimming can be done at many of these great Alaska lakes. The wildlife viewing opportunities are also quite remarkable. Getting wet and wild in the rugged Last Frontier has never been more fun! Have a look for yourself and prepare to start living the ultimate Alaska “lake life” summer.
1: Twin Lakes – Port Alsworth, Alaska
Head right across Cook Inlet to enjoy Alaska like no other inside Lake Clark National Park. Both Twin Lakes and Lake Clark are home to a vast array of recreational activities. Watch as massive brown bears feed on salmon running up streams, fish to your hearts content, and soak in panoramic views of rugged coastline, snow-covered mountain peaks, and towering volcanoes.
2: Eklutna Lake – Eklutna, Alaska
Take the 22-mile drive from Anchorage to this beautiful glacial lake bordered by lofty peaks of the Chugach Range. Camp overnight, enjoy miles of hiking and biking trails, or hop on a kayak and hit the open water. Don’t forget your camera!
3: Kenai Lake – Cooper Landing, Alaska
This large zig-zag shaped lake on the Kenai Peninsula is filled with the most piercing blue/green glacial water that you’ll ever witness. As it forms the headwaters of the world-renowned Kenai River, this lake is home to more outdoor fun than you’ll know what to do with. Enjoy fishing, kayaking, birding, wildlife viewing, and even stand up paddleboarding!
4: Iliamna Lake – Northern Alaska Peninsula
About 100 miles west of Seldovia is this incredible lake destination, also known as Lake Iliamna. This is the second largest freshwater lake entirely within the United States, falling behind only Lake Michigan. The lake drains southwest through the Kvichak River, into Bristol Bay, and finally into the Bering Sea. 80 miles long and 25 miles wide, Iliamna Lake is filled with several fascinating islands and breathtaking vistas. Fly fishing is popular here as anglers target trophy rainbow trout.
5: Mendenhall Lake – Juneau, Alaska
Head to Alaska’s state capital of Juneau to visit this proglacial lake located in the Mendenhall Valley. Just 13 miles from downtown Juneau you’ll be able to observe Mendenhall Glacier, Nugget Falls, and (hands down) one of the most scenic Alaska lakes around.
6: Kashwitna Lake – Willow, Alaska
Located at mile 76.4 on the Parks Highway, this is one of those Alaska lakes that always leaves an impression. Enjoy kayaking, wildlife viewing, and fishing for rainbow trout in this private wilderness oasis.
7: Big Lake – Big Lake, Alaska
Load up the family or a big group of friends, and head to this recreational paradise just north of the MatSu Valley—canoeing, boating, kayaking, jet-skiing, water-skiing, swimming, camping… and so much more! When the weather cools down and the lake freezes, snow-machining is a popular winter activity, and with a size that lives up to its name, Big Lake will keep you entertained for hours.
8: Lake Louise – Glennallen, Alaska
Located near Glennallen in the Copper Valley, Lake Louise is an outdoor mecca that locals love to enjoy all year-round. Area activities including fishing, boating, birding, camping, hiking, biking, berry picking, snow-machining, skiing, ice skating, and even northern lights viewing. With so much to do, you’ll simply never want to leave!
9: Nancy Lake – Willow, Alaska
Crystal clear waters, unspoiled forests, and totally tranquil settings are hard to beat. Yet, that is exactly what you’ll find here. Escape the crowds and come here to enjoy fishing, hiking, canoeing, hunting, dog mushing, and snow-machining.
10: Skilak Lake – Sterling, Alaska
Located on the Kenai Peninsula, this enchanting lake is a part of the Kenai River system but is also fed by glacial runoff from the meltwater of Skilak Glacier. Kayaking, boating, fishing, hunting, and backcountry camping will keep you busy for days on end. There are also some rustic cabins in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge that are available to rent in the area.
11: Wonder Lake – Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska
Mile 85 of the Denali Park Road is where you’ll find the famous waters of Wonder Lake located in Denali National Park. Next to the lake is the closest campground to Denali, North America’s highest mountain peak. Camp under the midnight sun and enjoy the majestic mountains that loom around you.
12: Summit Lake – Moose Pass, Alaska
Located at mile 45 off the Seward Highway is this sweet gem in the Chugach National Forest. This is so much more than your everyday “drive by” lake. You simply MUST stop and take a look, but you’ll enjoy it even more if you take part in one of these popular activities such as fishing, kayaking, and rafting. Visitors love sighting loons and soaring bald eagles.
13: Chilkoot Lake – Lutak, Alaska
Located in the Haines Region of Alaska, this secluded lake is the perfect place to get away from it all. Spend the night in a campground surrounded by lush, towering Sitka spruce. The lake and nearby areas have some of the best salmon fishing in Southeast Alaska. Four total salmon runs starting in mid-June and lasting through mid-October will keep angling addicts fat and happy.
14: Lake Aleknagik – Dillingham, Alaska
As the gateway to the Wood-Tikchik State Park, this lake is surrounded by rugged Alaskan beauty – away from all the hustle and bustle. Numerous rivers and streams from the Wood River Drainage offer excellent sport fishing opportunities for all five species of Pacific salmon, rainbow trout, Arctic char, Dolly Varden, grayling, and even northern pike. It’s not the easiest trek getting here, but we promise it’s worth it.
15: Johnson Lake – Kasilof, Alaska
Located on the Kenai Peninsula, just south of Alaska’s Kenai River City of Soldotna, is this family-friendly lake that everyone will love. Break up the workweek and head down here to enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing, swimming, bbqing, or hiking. This scenic spot also has lots of camping spots, attracting lots of locals and visitors from all around the world each summer season.
As you can see, the Last Frontier is filled with tons of great places to soak up every last ounce of that glorious midnight sun. These Alaska lakes will help you stay cool on a hot day and provide an unbeatable setting for your summer fun. Did we miss any of your favorite Alaska lakes? If so, we’d love for you to share your memories with us!
Looking for more where that came from? Explore Alaska’s Mendenhall Ice Caves for a surreal glacier experience. Also, be sure to check out the world’s largest Ziprider that’s located right here in Alaska. You won’t be able to resist the magnificent scenery in Kachemak Bay, Alaska’s first state park and only wilderness park.