Lakes

Top Lakes Near Boise

Boise has experienced some of the biggest population gains in the country throughout the past few years.

As people have looked to escape crowded cities in California and Washington State, Boise has become a popular destination.

While most think of Boise as a mountain town, it is actually considered as a high desert climate, and the lake and boating scene presents plenty of nearby options.

Best lakes close to Boise

Below are some of the top lake options near Boise:

Lucky Peak

 

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Lucky Peak Reservoir is located 15 minutes from downtown Boise, ID, and is the prime choice for summertime activities in the valley. The reservoir winds through the canyon of the Boise mountains, stopping at Lucky Peak dam where you’ll see the notable “Keep Our Forests Green” rock art as you climb to the top.

This lake is most popular for water sports such as boating, water skiing, and jet skiing. The main boat ramp is located just at the top of the dam with a large parking lot and restrooms.

Further up Highway 21, there is another boat ramp, parking, and a convenience store at Lucky Peak Springs Shores. The lake itself is only accessible by boat or watercraft as there are no accessible beaches surrounding it. If you’re looking for a place to picnic and swim, Sandy Shores is a small swimming pond just below the dam where you can gain access with a day pass.

The park has many picnic tables, a large grass space, a sandy beach, and shaded pavilions.

Lake Cascade

 

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Lake Cascade is a large, cold-water mountain lake located about two hours north of Boise in the Boise National Forest. The small town of Cascade sits right on the shores where convenience stores, groceries, and supplies can be found. There are many picnic areas and small beaches surrounding the lake which have parking and bathroom facilities.

Day passes are available for purchase, including parking and access to pavilions, picnic tables, and beach space.

Overnight camping is popular at this lake at any of the campgrounds surrounding the lake, which can be reserved online ahead of time. Summertime is the most popular time of the year to enjoy this lake and crowds should be expected, especially around the fourth of July. Popular activities other than picnicking and camping include boating, water skiing, swimming, fishing, and kayaking.

Arrowrock Reservoir

 

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Arrowrock Reservoir is located 30 minutes from the Boise metro area and is a popular choice for fishing and camping. The narrow reservoir winds through a canyon that feeds the Boise River and is open year-round. Visitors should note that the access road is narrow and winding and turns to dirt at a point along the way which can be difficult to drive on, especially during the winter or wet season.

Locals enjoy fishing in this lake due to its plentiful stocking and natural reproduction of rainbow trout and kokanee. Overnight camping is available at any of the surrounding campgrounds if reserved ahead of time. There is a small beach for swimming with picnic tables and bathroom facilities. Visitors should note that bathrooms are of the more primitive type and are non-flushing.

Warm Lake


Warm Lake is Idaho’s largest natural lake, surrounded by a forest of Ponderosa pines. It gets its name due to its warmer temperature which is fed by geothermal heating and its shallow depths. Warm Lake is located less than three hours north of Boise and is typically visited by campers and day-trippers in the Cascade area.

Billy Rice beach is at the north end of the lake and is perfect for daily use for picnicking and swimming.

Fishermen flock to this lake for its cutthroat, rainbow trout, and bull trout stocks. This lake is most enjoyed for its swimming, paddle boarding, beach play, and fishing.

Lake Lowell


Lake Lowell is an expansive man-made lake located just 15 minutes from downtown Boise in the suburban area of Caldwell. This shallow lake was originally made to facilitate irrigation runoff and, for that reason, the water tends to be cloudy.

Despite its intended use, locals enjoy cooling off during the hot summer months by boating and swimming.

Largemouth bass sport fishing is a popular activity between April and September. A large picnic area is a great choice for daily use and can be reserved for parties and gatherings with clean, flushing bathroom facilities on site.

Boise Cascade

 

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Boise Cascade Lake is a very small man-made lake in the heart of the city of Boise. Due to its size, It is probably best described more as a swimming pond than a lake. During the summer months, locals visit to cool off in the water and picnic in its designated recreation spots.

Paddle boarding and paddle boating are also popular choices for this pond as it is a non-motorized watercraft lake.

The Boise Cascade trail loop–which is a paved path that winds around the lake, is accessible year-round and offers a great place to walk or bike.

Deadwood Reservoir

 

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Deadwood Reservoir is located high in the Boise mountains about three hours northeast of Boise in the Boise National Forest. This lake is only accessible during the summer months and during the warmer parts of fall and spring due to its altitude and the likelihood of snow.

Deadwood offers prime fishing and camping with boat ramps and restroom facilities.

It is most notable for its fishing and boasts a record 13lb Atlantic salmon caught! Kokanee, salmon, and rainbow trout are plentiful, making Deadwood a top choice for fishermen in the area.

Bull Trout Lake

 

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Bull Trout Lake is a quiet mountain lake located about two hours northeast of Boise.

This non-motorized watercraft lake is most enjoyed for its ideal fishing, canoeing, and kayaking.

Fishermen can expect a good stocking of brook trout and rainbow trout.

This lake is only open during the summer months, which are often busy with campers, so reservations for campgrounds are necessary. Other popular activities in the area include hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.

Everly Lake

 

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Everly Lake is a small alpine lake located in the Sawtooth mountains.

It is only accessible by hiking in and out 19 miles from the Grandjean Trailhead. This primitive lake is for experienced backcountry hikers and campers.

Visitors must pack in and pack-out supplies, and waste and dogs must be leashed. If you make the trek, you can enjoy the sights of snowcapped mountains, clear water, and possibly even a waterfall.

Summary

I hope this list of lake options in Boise gave you some good options for an epic day at the lake within a short drive from Boise.

There are not many cities in the country where you can spend a day at the lake and enjoy mountain views simultaneously.

This is just one of many reason that Boise is one my favorite cities in the country!