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The Five Clearest Lakes to Visit in Colorado

Colorado Lakes

Colorado is home to numerous water bodies, some nearly pristine. The presence of pictorial lakes you can explore is a primary reason to visit the Centennial State. From crystal clear to blue and emerald green, you will never run out of options to explore in this state. Most offer numerous outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, and fishing, among other things. The following are the five clearest lakes to visit in Colorado.

5. Lake Estes Marina (1770 Big Thompson Ave, Estes Park)

Located on the edge of Estes Park and close to Rocky Mountain National Park, Lake Estes is one of the clearest lakes to visit in Colorado. If you are looking for an authentic experience during your trip, a visit to this lake will not disappoint. The 75-ha water reservoir is formed by Olympus Dam and sits at 7522 feet above sea level. Its shoreline is approximately four miles and has a surface area of 185 acres. Lake Estes is a part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project and lies on the Big Thompson River. It offers plenty of outdoor activities, including kayaking, boating, and paddle boarding, just like many other regional mountain lakes. The scenic shoreline surrounding this lake gives visitors awe-inspiring sights of nature and wildlife. While in the water, visitors can enjoy the magnificent views of the natural landscapes around this beautiful lake. Lake Estes is arguably the perfect sight for sore eyes and a perfect vacation spot for individuals looking to spend a fun-filled day. You do not want to miss a chance to fish for rainbow trout, peddle carts, or hike along this lake. According to, swimming is not allowed in Lake Estes, but visitors can enjoy splashing in the reservoir’s designated area and play in the sand. The green spaces at the lake provide plenty of picnic shelters and tables for relaxing or a mid-afternoon cookout. You can also jog, walk, bike, or skate on the trail around this lake while enjoying the views of Estes Valley and the pristine Rocky Mountains around Lake Estes.

4. Monarch Lake (Grand County)

Monarch Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Colorado, located east of Granby in Grand County. Also known as Monarch Reservoir, this lake provides magical awe-inspiring views with mountain views, hiking trails, and campsites nearby. It is perfect for lounging, swimming, picnicking, and paddle boarding. The reservoir is also one of the best lakes to go kayaking in Colorado. Visitors enjoy the calmness of the water body because there are neither boating nor motorized activities. Monarch Lake provides the desired postcard backdrop with crystal clear waters and elegant surroundings worth making a trip for. It is one of the most popular destinations, making the Monarch Lake Trailhead in the Arapaho National Recreation Area a heavily- trafficked trail. According to Alex on the Map, you may want to arrive early enough to beat the crowds. Also, make sure you visit on a day of favorable weather.

3. Dream Lake (Larimer County, Colorado)

Dream Lake is situated in the heart of the Rocky Mountain National Park and surrounded by Alpines. It provides a fantastic backdrop of Hallet peak and comprises a serene water body suitable for visitors of all ages. The lake is formed due to large glaciers that carve out deep canyons and cirques. Dream Lake is known for its stunning features, including the surrounding sharp cliffs and trailheads spanning over two miles. Its crystal-clear water and captivating views around this lake make it one of the most visited and photographed places east of the continental divide. The water reservoir is best for hiking and snowshoeing. April through November are the best times to explore these trails. Also, it is worth noting that dogs are not allowed at the park as you plan your visit.

2. Two Rivers Lake (Larimer County, Colorado)

Nestling in a shallow basin beneath the Continental Divide, Two Rivers Lake is one of the gorgeous lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park and one of the hidden treasures in the region. It is famous as the headwaters of Mill Creek and provides spectacular views from the west, with 12,129-foot topnotch Mountain reflected in the shallow, tranquil clear waters. The stunning lake is a twin to Lake Helen, which soars over Fern Creek’s headwaters. Two Rivers Lake provides breathtaking views with still waters and majestic mountain scenery. You can hike, camp, or explore the wilderness campsite surrounded by conifer trees. Nearby are Fern Lake and Odessa Lake backcountry campsites, but you need to acquire a permit for camping.

1. Lake Isabelle (San Isabel National Forest, Pueblo)

Lake Isabelle, near Boulder, is one of the cleanest and clearest lakes in Colorado. It is an alpine reservoir, towering at about 11,000 feet, and a hidden gem. The clear mountain lake sits in the pristine Indian Peak Wilderness, and its crystal-clear water makes it more attractive and unique. Lake Isabelle is surrounded by a pine forest and rocky peaks with native moose and spring wildflowers. It is a popular summer destination, especially for individuals who love outdoor activities like hiking, river rafting, and fishing. According to Onlyinyourstate, Lake Isabelle is open throughout the year, but the best time to visit is early summer or late spring. Apart from the heavy snowfall that may make it inaccessible, the water from this beautiful clear lake is drained from late July to early August. The surrounding mountainside and trees are also an attractive sight for visitors throughout the year.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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