Almost half of the land in Wyoming is owned by the US government, as it is made up of mountains, national parks, national forests and wildlife reserves. It is also home to national historic trails, national monuments and national recreation areas, making it an extremely popular vacation destination.
Wyoming is a relatively high state, with its lowest point being 945 metre and its highest being Gannett Peak at over 4,200 metres above sea level. Its different elevations means that there are numerous lakes within the state that sit at various elevations. One thing that they all have in common is that they are beautiful and boast some magnificent scenery. Here is a list of the 15 best lakes in Wyoming.
1. Jackson Lake; Teton County
Sitting at 2,064 metres above sea level, Jackson Lake is located in the Grand Teton National Park in north-western Wyoming. The 10,340 hectare lake is surrounded by mountain peaks, making it quite spectacular.
Jackson Lake was originally built in 1911, but it has since expanded to be used by farmers in neighbouring Idaho. It is the fourth largest reservoir in the state, although it a natural lake that was first formed by a large glacier.
The western shoreline of the lake is quite primitive, while the eastern shore is filled with marinas, lodges and camping grounds. It is the only lake in the national park that permits water skiing, windsurfing and sailing, and one of only two that allow motorised boats.
2. Yellowstone Lake; Teton County
As its names suggests, Yellowstone Lake is located in the Yellowstone National Park and happens to be the park’s largest lake. It is also the largest freshwater lake that sits above 2,100 metres in all of North America (it sits at 2,357 metres).
Yellowstone Lake is a massive 35,000 hectare lake that boasts a 180 kilometre shoreline that is home to camping grounds, hiking trails and a fishing bridge, which sits at the north tip of the lake. Angling for Yellowstone cutthroat trout has been a popular pastime since the late 1800s, with angling still being offered from June 15 to the first Sunday in November.
A popular thing to do on the lake is to take a one-hour guided boat tour to enjoy the magnificent and serene scenery. Canoeing, kayaking and boating are also prevalent, as is hiking and cycling along trails around the lake.
3. Flaming Gorge Reservoir; Sweetwater County
At 17,000 hectare, the Flaming Gorge Reservoir is the largest Reservoir in Wyoming and stretches south into neighbouring Utah. Still, the majority of the lake lies in Wyoming along the Green River surrounded by the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.
It is a picturesque reservoir that sits at an elevation of 1,841 metres above sea level within a steep, narrow gorge. This also creates some mesmerising geological scenery that is well worth snapping photos of.
The scenery at the Flaming Gorge Reservoir is enough to draw in tourists, although many also come to enjoy boating, windsurfing, water skiing and fishing, as well as backpacking, and camping. Visit in the winter and go snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and ice fishing.
4. Jenny Lake; Teton County
Jenny Lake was formed over 12,000 years ago by glaciers pushing rock debris to create the Cascade Canyon and a hole which is now home to this spectacularly beautiful lake. The lake is a main feature of the Grand Teton National Park, with many hiking trails surrounding it, including the Jenny Lake Trail.
The 482 hectare lake sits at an elevation of 2,067 metres above sea level and is surrounded by some of the tallest peaks in the Teton Range. It is the access point to many climbing routes and the starting point of many hiking trails.
Jenny Lake is a popular place to take a scenic boat ride, as its surroundings are nothing short of jaw dropping. There are also a few viewpoints along the Jenny Lake Trail that offer great views.
5. Leigh Lake; Teton County
Also situated in Grand Teton National Park, Leigh Lake is a glacial forming lake that sits at the end of both the Paintbrush and Leigh Canyons, making it a beautiful place. It is also just southeast of Mount Moran, with the 3,840 metre high mountain acting as a backdrop.
Leigh Lake sits at an elevation of 2,096 metres above sea level and has a surface area of 725 hectare. It’s not a very big lake, but its scenery makes it an unforgettable one. It is only accessible by hiking along the Leigh Lake Trail from the North Jenny Lake Junction, which is to the south.
There are camping sites along the trail for visitors to stay the night, though the hike can easily be done as a day trek. No motorised boats are permitted on the lake, although canoeing, kayaking and rowing are allowed and are quite popular.
6. Glendo Reservoir; Platte & Converse Counties
Sitting along the North Platte River in eastern Wyoming, Glendo Reservoir was formed by the Glendo Dam. The lake sits completely in Glendo State Park, making it a popular recreation area.
Water sports are the main feature of the lake, particularly fishing, boating and water skiing. There is a marina along its shorelines, as well as a 2.4 kilometres sandy beach, a boat ramp and 72 kilometres of mountain bike trails.
There are over 500 camp sites within the state park both for tents and motorhomes. There are also picnic areas, playgrounds and boat ramps, making it a great place to spend a few days.
7. Phelps Lake; Teton County
Sitting right in the southern section of the Grand Teton National Park, Phelps Lake is the entrance point for Death Canyon, which was formed by glaciers around 15,000 years ago. It is a gorgeous lake that is surrounded by forest and peaks, making is a great place to snap photos.
Phelps Lake is best known for its ‘jumping rock’ that acts as a natural diving board. The rock sits on the northern side of the lake and offers a nine metre drop into the 300 hectare lake.
There is no road access to the lake, with visitors arriving on foot from the Death Canyon Trailhead or Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. It is then highly recommended to hike around the Phelps Lake Loop to enjoy the spectacular views.
8. Lake Alice; Lincoln County
Lake Alice is located in the Bridger-Teton National Forest at an elevation of 2,362 metres and is its largest natural lake. It is a unique lake that was created by a massive landslide from Lake Mountain thousands of years ago.
It is not possible to get to the lake by vehicle, with visitors arriving on foot, horseback or mountain bike. Once there, you will enjoy its serenity and its magnificent natural surroundings.
Lake Alice is great for a camping holiday, with nine campsites being found at the southeast corner of the 93 hectare lake. There is also a picnic area at the south end of the lake that offers some great fishing.
9. Lower Slide Lake; Teton County
This natural lake is located within the Bridger-Teton National Forest and is a beautiful lake that is surrounded by nature. The lake was formed in 1925 when a landslide dammed the Gros Ventre River and sits at an elevation of 2,106 metres above sea level.
Lower Slide Lake is a popular fishing spot, being home to an abundance of lake trout, mountain whitefish and Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout. Boat access to the lake can be found at the Atherton Creek Boating Site on the lake’s northern shoreline, while non-motorised boats can access the lake via the Slide Lake Boating Site at the very western tip of the 260 hectare lake.
In addition to boat ramps, there is also a tranquil campground on the lake’s northern shoreline that has 22 sites as well as a picnic area. Lower Slide Lake is also home to two interpretative areas that offer sweeping views of the lake as well as information kiosks.
10. Taggart Lake; Teton County
Taggart Lake is located in the Grand Teton National Park at an elevation of 2,104 metres above sea level at the end of Avalanche Canyon. It is a spectacular lake that boasts wonderful views of the national park.
The 45 hectare lake is a popular spot for hiking, what with the 4.8 kilometre Taggart Lake Trail being the main draw. The trailhead starts at Teton Park Road, which is closed from November to May.
There is nowhere to stay around the lake, making it a place to visit on a day trip from Beaver Creek and other communities in the area.
11. Emma Matilda Lake; Teton County
Another gorgeous Grand Teton National Park lake, Emma Matilda Lake was named after the wife of one of the first men ever to climb to the summit of Grand Teton. The natural lake sits at an elevation of 2,095 metres above sea level and is surrounded by hills and mountain peaks.
The 390 hectare lake is only accessible on foot by hiking along a 1.6 kilometre trail from the car park of nearby Two Ocean Lake or from Jackson Lake Lodge. The lake is then encircled by the 17.2 kilometre Emma Matilda Lake Trail that offers panoramic views of the lake and the entire Teton Range.
One of the best spots to enjoy mesmerising views of the lake is Lookout Rock, which sits at the southern end of the lake and rises just over nine metres above it. It should be noted that there are bears in the area, so visitors are recommended to bring bear spray with them.
12. Bradley Lake; Teton County
Bradley Lake is a small, but beautiful lake located in the Grand Teton National Park just north of Taggart Lake. The 87 hectare lake it set amongst some of the most magnificent scenery in the entire Teton Range.
The lake is at an elevation of 2,142 metres above sea level near the terminus of Garnet Canyon. Like many other lakes in the county, it is only accessible on foot by hiking along the Bradley Lake Trail.
Bradley Lake gets fewer visitors then many others in the park, making it quite peaceful. There is no camping along the lake’s shoreline, though it is a great place for a day trip from Beaver Creek.
13. Boysen Reservoir; Fremont County
Formed by the earthen filled Boysen Dam, Boysen Reservoir sits along the Wind River in central Wyoming. The reservoir is located at the very east end of the Wind River Indian Reservation, but it is open to visitors.
The Boysen State Park encircles the lake, offering plenty of recreational activities, including fishing, boating, rafting, picnicking and swimming. There is also a marina at the north tip of the reservoir that offers wakeboarding and tubing, as well as having camping sites.
There are also other campgrounds surrounding the lake that offer both tent and motorhome sites. Most of them have added extras like a swimming beach, a playground and a boat ramp.
14. Trout Lake; Park County
Trout Lake gets its name from its very large Yellowstone cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and rainbow/cutthroat hybrids, which is one of the lake’s main draws. There is a wooden bridge set over it for fishing, though many anglers also fish from the shoreline or by float tubes.
At 4.9 hectare, Trout Lake is a small lake that is located near the union of Pebble Creek and Soda Butte Creek in the Yellowstone National Park. It sits at an elevation of 2,122 metres and is accessible by hiking along a short but steep trail through the forest.
The lake boasts great views of Mount Hornaday that sits behind it. It is also popular for its river otter that can be seen playing in the water and along its shoreline.
15. Shoshone Lake; Teton County
This backcountry lake is located in the southwest part of the Yellowstone National Park at an elevation of 2,376 metres above sea level. Shoshone Lake is famous for being home to one of the world’s largest concentrations of geysers; the Shoshone Geyser Basin, at the southwest end of the lake.
The Yellowstone Caldera can be seen in the background at the lake’s northwest side, making it quite a picturesque lake. The Delacy Creek is at the very north tip of the lake where there is also a campground.
In addition to the campground at Delacy Creek, there are also 19 others along Shoshone Lake’s shoreline. The only way to reach the lake and the campgrounds is by hiking from the Dogshead/Channel Trailhead or along the Continental Divide Trail.