Are you captivated by the serene beauty of lakes in Yellowstone National Park? Join us as we unveil 10 absolutely stunning lakes we hiked to and camped at, just for you!
In this article, we’ll share our personal experiences and the enchanting allure of these aquatic gems nestled in the heart of Yellowstone.
Why keep reading? Because not only will we take you on a virtual journey to these breathtaking lakes, but we’ll also provide insider tips for hiking and camping to make your experience truly unforgettable. Let’s dive into the tranquil wonders of Yellowstone’s lakes together!
Jenny Lake is one of the most popular lakes in Yellowstone National Park. It is located just south of the Grand Loop Road in the northern part of the park.
Jenny Lake is a glacial lake that was formed by a glacier during the last ice age. The lake is surrounded by mountains, including the 12,910 foot Mount Owen and 12,804 foot Mount Moran. The lake has an average depth of 100 feet and a maximum depth of 220 feet.
The area around Jenny Lake was first explored by Captain William Clark during his exploration of the region in 1806-1807. The first known photograph taken in Yellowstone was also taken here by photographer William Henry Jackson in 1872. Since then, it has been photographed many times over by both professional and amateur photographers alike.
Trailhead: Jenny Lake Trailhead
The Jenny Lake Trail provides a stunningly picturesque hiking experience. This moderate, 7.1-mile loop offers panoramic views of the Teton Range reflecting in the lake’s pristine waters. Most hikers complete this relatively flat trail in about 3-4 hours.
For a different perspective, you can take the alternate Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point trails, which lead you to a breathtaking waterfall and an awe-inspiring lookout, respectively.
The unique feature of this trail is the scenic boat ride option across the lake, giving your legs a rest while soaking in the majestic views.
Yellowstone Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in the United States. It is an oasis in the middle of the remote Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, a place where wildlife and people can find refuge from the surrounding wilderness.
The lake is surrounded by forests, including lodgepole pine and Douglas fir, as well as sagebrush and grasslands. The shoreline is dotted with wetlands, marshes and mudflats.
Yellowstone Lake is home to many species of birds, including bald eagles, ospreys and waterfowl such as grebes, loons and geese.
Hundreds of thousands of waterbirds winter here each year migrating from their breeding grounds in Canada or elsewhere during migration.
Trailhead: West Thumb Geyser Basin
Yellowstone Lake, the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 feet in North America, offers the Storm Point Trail.
This easy 2.3-mile loop trail, which takes about 1-2 hours to complete, winds through a picturesque meadow and a pine forest before reaching the Lake.
An alternate trail, the Elephant Back Mountain Trail, offers a more challenging climb but rewards hikers with an expansive view of Yellowstone Lake.
The unique feature of this trail is the impressive array of geothermal activity visible along the way.
Yellowstone National Park is home to a number of lakes and ponds, but none are quite as stunning as Grebe Lake. This beautiful mountain lake is located on the northern edge of the park, near Mammoth Hot Springs and Fishing Bridge.
A naturalist’s paradise, Grebe Lake is surrounded by lush green meadows that are home to many birds, animals and plants. The water is crystal clear and provides a scenic view of the mountains in the distance.
The wildlife in this area includes American dippers (a type of water ouzel), white-tailed ptarmigans, elk and bighorn sheep. Visitors can also spot beavers, moose and otters in the area.
Grebe Lake is named after its most famous resident: the grebe (pronounced “grizzly”). These birds have black bodies with white chests and necks that stretch out when they dive into the water.
They’re often seen swimming along the shoreline of Grebe Lake or perched on rocks nearby.
Trailhead: Grebe Lake Trailhead
The trail to Grebe Lake is a moderate, 6-mile round-trip journey that typically takes hikers around 3 hours to complete.
The path winds through a fascinating landscape of lodgepole pine forests and meadows abundant in wildflowers.
An alternate trail, the Cascade Lake trail, can also be accessed from the same trailhead and offers additional scenery.
The trail’s standout feature is the serene beauty of Grebe Lake itself, a popular destination for cutthroat trout fishing.
The Shoshone Lake in Yellowstone National Park is not a lake you would expect to see in the middle of a national park. It’s more like a large pond, but it is beautiful nonetheless.
Shoshone Lake is located just outside the southern entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The lake sits at an elevation of 6,300 feet and is surrounded by mountains that rise up to 10,000 feet above it.
The lake was formed when glaciers retreated from this area and left behind several small lakes that eventually filled with water and merged into one body of water called Shoshone Lake.
There are several campsites along the shoreline of Shoshone Lake where visitors can park their RVs or set up tents for the night.
There are also many hiking trails that run through this area where people can enjoy the views of the surrounding mountains and lakeside scenery.
Trailhead: DeLacy Creek Trailhead
The hike to Shoshone Lake, the park’s largest backcountry lake, is a 6-mile round trip journey of moderate difficulty.
The trail follows DeLacy Creek before opening out onto the shores of the Lake, and typically takes about 3-4 hours to complete.
The Dogshead Trail offers an alternate, longer route.
The unique feature of this trail is the chance to see the lake’s geyser basin, one of only a few in the world that’s situated along a lakeshore.
The Isa Lake in Yellowstone National Park is a great place for camping, fishing and wildlife watching. It is located about 4 miles from the West Thumb area of Yellowstone Lake and is the largest natural lake in the park.
The Isa Lake campground has 25 sites with tent pads, tables, fire rings and bear-resistant food storage boxes. There are no RV hookups at this campground.
The Isa Lake boat launch provides access to Yellowstone Lake for canoes, kayaks, motorboats and sailboats.
The boats must be hand carried to the water’s edge on a gravel path that leads from the parking lot down to the lake shoreline.
Fishing is a popular activity here because of the many species of fish that inhabit this lake including rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and mountain whitefish.
There are also some large brown trout in Isa Lake which have been stocked by park biologists over time as part of an effort to expand their range into waters previously occupied by native cutthroat trout populations (which have since been extirpated from most areas).
Trailhead: Isa Lake Picnic Area
Located on the Continental Divide, Isa Lake is known for its quirky geographical feature – it drains backward!
The easy, less than a mile long trail, takes about 20-30 minutes to walk and it’s a delightful short journey for families and casual hikers.
An alternate trail, the Kepler Cascades trail, offers a longer hike with a beautiful waterfall. The standout feature of this trail is the lake itself, which interestingly drains into both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
It is a popular destination for both anglers and hikers. Trout Lake is named after the trout that live in the lake, which are known to be easy to catch in the spring and summer months.
Trout Lake lies at an elevation of 8,000 feet above sea level, making it one of the highest lakes in Yellowstone National Park. The lake is nestled among thick stands of lodgepole pine trees, which provide plenty of shade on hot summer days.
However, during the winter months when temperatures drop below freezing every night, these pines also provide shelter and warmth for animals like deer and elk that migrate through this area during harsh winters.
The fishing season begins in early spring and lasts until late fall when ice begins forming near the banks of the lake.
During this time it’s not uncommon for fishermen to catch hundreds of trout per day using various types of bait including night crawlers or salmon eggs.
The average size of these fish ranges from 10 to 15 inches long but some have been known to grow as large as 20 inches!
During certain parts of the year (such as spring) water levels rise dramatically due to snow melt from nearby mountains.
Trailhead: Trout Lake Trailhead
This short but steep 1.2-mile round-trip trail leads you to the beautiful Trout Lake. It typically takes hikers around 1 hour to complete this hike.
An alternate trail, the Buckhorn Trail, offers a more challenging journey through the park’s backcountry.
The trail’s unique feature is the lake’s outlet stream, a popular spot to observe otters and spawning cutthroat trout in early summer.
Delusion Lake in Yellowstone National Park is a beautiful place to visit. The lake is very picturesque, and has many different options for activities.
There are cabins, hotels, restaurants and campgrounds located near the lake. It is also a great place for hiking, fishing and other outdoor recreation activities.
There are many different types of birds that live near Delusion Lake. Ducks are very common in this area because of the abundance of water and food sources available. Some other species include geese, swans and loons.
Visitors may be able to see many different types of animals in this area as well. Bears can be seen roaming around the woods surrounding the lake looking for food sources such as berries and nuts.
They will also sometimes come down to drink from the water in the lake or swim around in it when it gets warmer out during summer months.
Trailhead: Delusion Lake Trailhead
The hike to Delusion Lake is a bit more challenging, but the tranquil beauty of the lake is worth the effort. The trail is a 10-mile round trip and typically takes 5-6 hours.
There is an alternate trail – the Beach Springs Lollipop Loop – that offers more diverse scenery.
The unique feature of the Delusion Lake trail is its seclusion. Its less-travelled path provides hikers a sense of solitude and closer connection with nature.
Heart Lake is located in the northeast section of the park and is a popular destination for hikers and campers.
Heart Lake is about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the road that leads to it, so it can be reached by car or by hiking. The trailhead begins at the end of Heart Lake Road, which begins at Canyon Village on U.S. Highway 89 (the Grand Loop Road).
The trail follows an old jeep track that was used to build a dam on Heart Lake in 1959-1960. The trail leads to Heart Lake’s eastern shoreline, where there are two small campsites available for overnight stays.
The lake itself is named after the heart-shaped pattern formed by three islands in its center — which also look like an arrowhead — but many people call it Arrowhead Lake instead because they find it easier to pronounce than Heart Lake.
Heart Lake is spring fed from underground sources and never dries up during dry seasons as other lakes do because it doesn’t rely on surface runoff from snowmelt or rainfall for its water supply.
Trailhead: Heart Lake Trailhead
The Heart Lake trail, a moderately strenuous 14-mile trek, takes you to one of the most beautiful lakes in Yellowstone. Most hikers take 4-5 hours for this journey.
The alternate Witch Creek trail provides a shorter route but with equally captivating views.
The trail’s standout feature is Mount Sheridan, a backdrop that renders a picturesque setting to the lake, and the thermal areas along the trail, including the Heart Lake Geyser Basin.
Lewis Lake in Yellowstone National Park is one of the best places to see wildlife in the park. It is also a great place to hike and enjoy the scenery.
Lewis Lake is located just west of Mammoth Hot Springs near Tower Junction. You can take the shuttle from there or drive up to this area of the park.
The lake itself is very pretty, with many different shades of blue depending on what time of day you are there.
The best time to see wildlife at Lewis Lake is early morning or late evening, when most animals are coming out for food or water. You can see beavers, elk, bison, coyotes and other animals here year-round.
There are two hikes that start from this area that I recommend if you want to get away from crowds and see some of Yellowstone’s most incredible views.
One hike starts at Tower Falls (which is also a great place to view animals), while another begins at Lewis Overlook on the Grand Loop Road.
Both hikes are easy enough for younger children as well as older adults who don’t consider themselves hikers!
Trailhead: Lewis Lake Trailhead
The Lewis Lake trail is an easy, 3-mile round-trip hike, generally taking about 1-2 hours. The Lewis Channel Trail provides an alternate route, leading hikers to Shoshone Lake.
The unique feature of this trail is the spectacular view of the Lewis River and the serene ambience of Lewis Lake – an excellent spot for canoeing and fishing.
Wrangler Lake is located in the southernmost portion of Yellowstone National Park, within the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. It’s a small lake, with a maximum depth of about 20 feet. The lake is fed by two streams on its north end and one on its south end.
This is an excellent place to see moose, bears and other wildlife. You can also hike into the surrounding wilderness area, which has lots of hiking trails.
The trail to Wrangler Lake starts at the parking area for Moose Basin Auto Tour Route near Dunraven Pass (which you can drive to).
There are no services along this road, so make sure you have enough gas before you start driving!
Trailhead: Wrangler Lake Trailhead
Wrangler Lake trail is a less crowded, peaceful 2-mile round trip trek that typically takes around 1-2 hours to complete. The alternate Pelican Creek trail offers a longer hike, with opportunities for bird watching.
The trail’s unique feature is the picturesque view of Wrangler Lake, nestled amidst dense forests, providing a serene spot for picnics and relaxation.
The sheer beauty of Yellowstone is hard to describe, which is why we’ve done our best to demonstrate it with these incredible photos. We hope that they’ve done at least a little bit of justice to this fantastic place.
If you’re ever in the area, it’s definitely worth adding Yellowstone National Park to your to-do list. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning an extensive trip or just a short camping excursion – once you’ve set foot in Yellowstone you’ll almost certainly want to come back for more adventure.
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