Swimming, Hiking And More: A Guide To The Best Summer Lakes

Jul 10, 2017
Originally published on July 14, 2017 2:37 pm

During National Lake Appreciation Month, we asked for your favorite lakes and you responded. Check out the second part in our summer series on lakes.


This summer, we’re going to spend some time cooling off with lakes. If you have some time to get away this summer, even if it’s only for the day, where should you go?

Joe Yogerst (@joe_yogerst), travel writer, photographer and author of “50 States, 5,000 Ideas” joins Here & Now‘s Robin Young to share some details on the best lakes to visit, swim in and hike around across the U.S.

Interview Highlights

On the best lakes for swimming

“I’m prejudiced when it comes to western lakes because that’s what I grew up with, and I have to say, my favorite is Lake Mead, which is on the border between Nevada and Arizona, because I’ve been going there since I was a little kid and some of my best lake memories are from there. But most of all, when it comes to swimming, I like warm water. And Lake Mead in the summer, it’s like swimming in a bath tub.

“And Lake Mead is the only place where you can float on your back and stare up at the walls of the Grand Canyon. A lot of people don’t know that Lake Mead backs up into the western part of the Grand Canyon … I have very distinct memories of just floating on my back looking up at the amazing walls, just thinking, ‘This is like the perfect place, perfect time. One of those moments.'”

On the best wilderness lakes

“Yellowstone Lake, which is in Yellowstone National Park, and Lake Superior, which I just love also, and I think it’s one of the great underutilized natural resources in this country, Lake Superior. It’s huge, it’s almost so big it’s like a sea or an ocean, and it’s surrounded by wilderness and amazing parks.”

On Lake Martin

“I spent a couple of days roaming around the middle of Louisana looking for gators and I finally found them at Lake Martin, and I found a lot of them, as in hundreds of them. And they were close enough to reach out and touch from the boat — although I obviously didn’t do that — but just the wildlife in general, it’s not a large lake, but it’s very well preserved with giant cypress trees coming up out of the water and wetlands all around, amazing birdlife, turtles, fish, snakes, frogs and a lot of gators.”

On the history of Lake Champlain

“It’s kind of our forgotten war, the War of 1812, and a lot of it was fought on lakes. On Lake Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario and Lake Champlain. The Battle of Lake Champlain, which happened in September of 1814, was actually a sea battle between the British navy and kind of an impromptu fleet of American ships that was built and launched on the lake shore. And even though the British Royal Navy was a lot more experienced, the American sailors actually beat them in the Battle of Lake Champlain and foiled an entire invasion attempt to come down the Champlain Valley into the Hudson Valley and split the states, at that point, in half.”

On Trout Glen Pool

“Trout Glen Pool, in Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Missouri, it’s a tiny little branch of the Lake of the Ozarks. The reason I like it is that it seems to have 20 different shades of blue all within about 100-yard range. It’s just a gorgeous little lake that you can hike around, and if you really want to recreate, you cross a little isthmus and the giant Lake of the Ozarks is right there.”

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