The West's BEST LAKES

When summer sizzles, these lakes will refresh

Summer and lakes go together like ... well, like paddles and canoes. The sun climbs high in the August sky, inviting you to bask, then leading you to think, Oh, if only I could cool down. And there it is, shimmering blue before you: the lake.

The West is blessed in lakes large and small from puddle-size ponds ideal for catching tadpoles to vast bodies of water that generate their own weather systems and can be seen from outer space.

In this story, we focus mainly on lesser-known lakes that are perfect for summer vacationing - lakes with great scenery, great lodging and camping options, and lots of things to do. Or not to do, that being one of a lake's other charms: It invites you to do absolutely nothing, blissfully, from now until Labor Day, and maybe beyond.