Top 10 lakeside resorts

Soak up summer at one of the West?s best lakefront getaways, from B.C. to Las Vegas

1. NORTH CASCADES, WA

  Ross Lake Resort  
The 15 cabins here are so close to the cerulean waters, they actually float. Guests who've sought out the spectacularly remote hideaway (after the three-hour drive from Seattle, it still takes a ferry, a truck, and a speedboat to get you to your door) are richly rewarded. With nothing up here but silent mountain vistas across the shimmering water, evenings are all about cooking up trout from the fjordlike lake. First-time visitors quickly become regulars, so book early. INFO: Open through Oct 31; from $112; 206/386-4437. ?Karen O'Leary

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2. NEAR TRUCKEE, CA

  Salmon Lake Lodge  
What the lodge lacks ? telephones, Internet, television, and, best of all, cars ? is almost as good as what it provides: world-class Sierra scenery, easy lake access from all 14 cabins, free use of a rowboat or kayak, great fishing and swimming, and hiking trails galore. Guests leave their cars on the far side of Upper Salmon Lake, then phone the lodge for ferry pickup. Meals are do-it-yourself, except for Thursdays when the owners host a barbecue dinner on the lake's island. Best chance for availability is early summer or fall. INFO: From $650 per week; 530/852-0874. ?Anne Marie Brown

3. OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK, WA

  Lochaerie Resort  
Families have been returning for generations to the adorable 1920s and '30s cabins spilling down a hill to a lake. Pick from 6 shingled cabins on a slice of private land inside Olympic National Park. Plenty to do here: explore the rain forest, canoe Lake Quinault with otters for company, or cook in the charming vintage kitchen. But one word of caution: Don't come to this paradise if you require wireless, a hot tub, or a pillow-top mattress. Many places call themselves "rustic" and "old-fashioned." This one means it. INFO: From $120; 360/288-2215. ?Jenny Cunningham

More on Olympic National Park: Washington: Olympic National Park

4. YOHO NATIONAL PARK, B.C.

  Emerald Lake Lodge  
The hand-hewn timber lodge on the shore of Emerald Lake's impossibly turquoise waters has been a destination since 1902. Located in Yoho National Park (Yoho is Cree for "to be in awe of"), the 85-room resort seduces with its mix of china-and-damask elegance and we-are-but-specks-on-this-planet wilderness. Hike all day in relative solitude before returning for a predinner soak in a lakeview hot tub. Dining options include Northwest-inspired cuisine like caribou medallions and wild salmon. Rooms boast wood-burning fireplaces and beds with suede covers. INFO: From $302 U.S.; 800/663-6336. ?Kim Gray

5. NEAR MAMMOTH LAKES, CA

  Tamarack Lodge & Resort  
Tamarack has that middle-of-nowhere feeling where the glow comes not from a television (there are none) but from a fireplace. Its 32 cabins and 11 lodge rooms, scattered across a piney hillside under a craggy bluff, share the shores of Twin Lakes with a campground and, well, that's it. When booking, pick your flavor: go for the slightly smoky traditional cabins or spring for the pricier, polished new ones, as comfortable and stylish as anything you'd find at a slick resort but without the corporate sheen or surrounding sprawl. In any case, this place is throwback all the way. INFO: From $149; 800/626-6684, or 760/934-2442. ?Lisa Trottier

6. WARD, CO

  Gold Lake Mountain Resort & Spa  
Chief Niwot of the Arapaho brought his tribe to Gold Lake for vision quests, and it's easy to see why the pristine lake in the Indian Peaks above Boulder was considered a sacred spot. Today 20 rustic log cabins clustered near the shore offer creature comforts like gas stoves, copper and slate bathtubs, and feathery comforters. After hiking or canoeing, dine by firelight on gourmet organic cuisine in Alice's Restaurant ( $$$$) End with a soak in one of the lakeside hot pools, gaze up at the stars, and you'll feel you've completed your own quest for relaxation and renewal. INFO: From $250; 800/450-3544, or 303/459-3544. ?Jane McConnell

7. WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK, ?ALBERTA

  Prince of Wales Hotel  
Sitting atop a bluff in the vast Canadian Rockies, the hotel seems lifted straight out of The Sound of Music. The timbered lobby, with its soaring views of the mountains and Upper Waterton Lake, has a timeless quality that has made it popular with vacationers since it opened in 1927. Stone-skipping children and dazed honeymooners fulfill James Hill's 1910 vision for Waterton Lakes National Park as the "playground for the Northwest." The 84 cozy rooms (thankfully) don't have television, but there are restorative tea and scones at Valerie's Tea Room ( $$$$ U.S.; reservations recommended) and Kilmorey chicken cordon bleu and Saskatoon berry pie in the Royal Stewart Dining Room ( $$$ U.S.). INFO: Open through Sep 16; from $250 U.S.; 406/892-2525. ?Caroline Patterson

8. PRIEST LAKE, ID

  Elkins Resort  
Find a driftwood log, settle into the sun-warmed sand, and watch the Selkirk Mountains take on a rosy glow, a spectacle simply called "the pink." It's a perfect finale to a day of boating, hiking, and mountain biking in north Idaho. When the star-studded black sky finally muscles in, guests light bonfires, cook family dinners in their cabins, or mosey to the lodge to enjoy award-winning Northwest cuisine (huckleberry daiquiris are a good start). Twenty-eight fully equipped cabins accommodate from 2 to 14. INFO: From $1,107 per week (6-night minimum stay in Jul and Aug); 208/443-2432. ?Linda Hagen Miller

More on Priest Lake: Legendary lake country

9. WALLOWA LAKE, OR

  Wallowa Lake Lodge  
Evenings at the lodge in northeast Oregon feel like an idyllic scene from a fairy tale ? lamps aglow in lodge windows; stately ponderosas rising from the lawn; a burbling river slipping toward the still, cool waters of the alpine lake; and the granite peaks of the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area are only a pinecone's toss away. The restored 1923 lodge's 22 rooms offer a comfortable retreat: No televisions or phones, but there are polished hardwood floors, lace curtains, comfy beds, and antique chairs. When it's time to eat, filet mignon dinners reward a day of roughing it in the wilderness. For a little more privacy and a little less chintz, reserve one of the property's 8 lakeside cabins. INFO: Rooms from $89, cabins from $175; 541/432-9821. ?Laura Stavoe

10. HENDERSON, NV

  The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Las Vegas  
This is lake as oxymoron, or maybe mirage: 320 glittering blue acres of water in the scorching Nevada desert. Its shores are dotted with fairways, and a miniature Florence (yeah, that is the Ponte Vecchio) anchors one end. Here the Ritz-Carlton completes the fantasy with Italianate elegance in marble-floored public spaces, 349 sumptuous guest rooms, and a first-rate spa. You can even take a gondola ride. Summer is hot here, but lakeside evening concerts and lower summer room rates compensate. INFO: From $179; 800/686-2759, or 702/567-4700. ??Peter Fish

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