There are a number of lakes that are close to the Boise area but not necessarily within the city limits. If you are wanting to cool down for the summer, here are a few lakes that are at least a one to three-hour drive from Boise (more or less). Please be advised that when you go to each of these lakes, be sure to wear lots of sunscreen and dress comfortably.
Lucky Peak- This lake/reservoir is the closest to the Boise area (with only being a 30 to 45-minute drive away). Because of this, the lake is popular for citizens of Boise and surrounding cities. Even though there isn’t much of a beach, there are a number of docks around the lake which are accessible only when the water is high enough. It stretches across three different counties, despite its small size. There is also a state park that sits to the north of the lake if you are interested in discovering some of the history of the area. On the opposite side is a recreational area that also has a nice beach, boat ramps, and picnic tables. You may also go fishing and swimming in this lake since the water is very fresh.
Lake Cascade- This beautiful lake is located a little more than two hours away from Boise and is also known as “The Mile High Playground” due to the large number of nature lovers that seem to visit regularly. Surrounded by mountains, this lake is filled with majestic scenery and tons of wildlife for you to enjoy. The lake is also ideal for fishing smallmouth bass, trout, coho salmon, kokanee salmon, and tons more! It is also home to Lake Cascade State Park, which holds at least 2,000 different campsites (you can also hike, go bird watching, snowmobile, ski, and take a boat out onto the water). On the western shore of the lake, there is Tamarack Resort (for those who aren’t into camping) which is open all year long!
Stanley Lake- Located almost three hours away from Boise, this lake is found up in the Sawtooth Mountains northwest of Redfish Lake (which will be mentioned after this). It lies inside the boundaries of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (about 2,000 meters above sea level). There are three different campsites around the lake that includes hiking trails, a boat launching area, a swimming area, places to have picnics, and places that rent out kayaks and canoes to take onto the lake. It is also an ideal place to go fishing (full of rainbow trout, brook trout, and much more) and spotting all sorts of wildlife. If you are a painter, this lake is great for scenic artwork!
Redfish Lake- This lake is also located a little over three hours away from the Boise area, and it lies northwest of Stanley Lake. Redfish Lake is also considered one of the most beautiful lakes in Idaho due to the Sawtooth Mountains surrounding it on all sides. The lake gets its name from the large amount of sockeye salmon that used to be seen swimming around the lake. However, over time, they have only been seen in small numbers (they are catch and release fish; don’t take them out of the lake). There is also a long shoreline surrounded by a trail that is great for walking. Other activities you may consider besides fishing include canoeing, kayaking, camping, sunbathing on the beach, staying at the lodge, horseback riding, taking photos and painting scenery, the list goes on and on! There is also a visitor’s center if you wish to visit any of the exhibits and tours of the area.
Alice Lake- This is about an hour or so drive from Boise, and it is considered the largest lake in the Sawtooth Wilderness. Since the scenery surrounding this lake is so beautiful (with its wonderful mountains and clear, reflective waters), many photographers and painters come to take in the sights and recreate it on their canvas or capture it in just the right lighting on their camera. This on its own makes up for the fact that the water activities tend to be lacking (this is because of the water being frozen for most of the summer). Hiking is probably the best thing you can do in Alice Lake since there are a number of trails you can walk along in order to get to surrounding areas. The Alice Lake Trail itself is one of the most popular hiking trails because it goes between two peaks known as the “Dragon’s Back”. If you hike these trails during the spring, be careful; there is still a lot of snow on the mountains during this time of year.
C.J. Strike Reservoir- This reservoir is found about an hour’s drive outside of the Boise area and sits along the Snake River. It is extremely accessible and is the ideal destination for your summer vacation. Many people visit this lake because of all the fish that swim around in its waters (including black crappie, channel catfish, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, pumpkinseed, and many others). There are three different areas in which you can go fishing which are the main area near the dam, the Bruneau arm, and the Snake River arm. Camping is also offered to visitors along the shoreline (there are four in total), and they each have picnic areas and boat launches. You may also explore around the area if you want to check out some wagon ruts where the Oregon Trail used to be.
There are plenty of other lakes that have not been mentioned on this list; however, they take much longer to get there than three hours (hence, why they aren’t mentioned here). It is hoped that you will visit all of these lakes yourself and see just how beautiful they really are. Make sure you take in all of the scenery and have fun participating in all of the activities they have to offer.