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Photo Gallery: Mountain Lakes of Idaho’s Sawtooths

Photo Gallery: Mountain Lakes of Idaho’s Sawtooths

By Michael Lanza

I may be risking an impassioned debate here, but I think there are very few mountain ranges in America with as many drop-dead, gorgeous high mountain lakes as Idaho’s Sawtooths. In fact, the only ranges that arguably beat out the Sawtooths in that department may be the High Sierra and Wind River Range (and not coincidentally, the three share other similarities, including geology). In 20 years of wandering around Idaho’s best-known hills, I’ve seen many of those watery jewels. This gallery of photos from many of them may persuade you to agree with me.

I don’t make this claim about Sawtooth Mountains lakes lightly. I’ve hiked all over the country, and I’m a big fan of the Tetons, the Cascades (especially the North Cascades), the Winds, the White Mountains (where I started hiking), and other mountain ranges. Anyone reading my story “Tent Flap With a View: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites” or looking at my photo gallery of favorite backcountry lakes will see I’ve camped by a lot of nice lakes.

 


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside, which has made several top outdoors blog lists. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Subscribe now to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Please follow my adventures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.

 


 

When you consider the beauty and the sheer numbers of clear, high mountain lakes tucked in granite basins ringed by soaring cliffs and jagged peaks, I just think Idaho’s Sawtooths have little competition.

Some, like Sawtooth and Alice lakes, are well known. Others are more remote and obscure; you may have never seen a photo of some of these lakes. All are only reached by hiking or riding a horse for miles into the wilderness. Seeing these incredible places requires time and effort.

 

I’ve helped many readers plan an unforgettable backpacking trip in Idaho’s Sawtooths.
Want my help with yours? Click here.

 

See all of my stories about Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, including “Jewels of the Sawtooths: Backpacking to Alice, Hell Roaring, and Imogene Lakes,” Going After Goals: Backpacking in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains,Ask Me: The Best Long Backpacking Trip in Idaho’s Sawtooths,” and “Ask Me: What Are the Best Hikes in Idaho’s Sawtooths?

If you think I’ve overlooked an outstanding lake in the Sawtooths, or if you believe you know of a range with prettier mountain lakes, please suggest it in the comments section below this story.

 

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About The Author

Michael Lanza

A former field editor for Backpacker Magazine, Michael Lanza created The Big Outside to share stories and images from his many backpacking, hiking, and other outdoor adventures, as well as expert tips and gear reviews to help readers plan and pull off their own great adventures.

10 Comments

  1. Tom Gattiker

    Beautiful pics Mike

    Reply
  2. Tom Gattiker

    Beautiful pics Mike

    Reply
  3. Chris

    Nice picks Michael. It does look like a special place. The question though, how many of those lakes have you swam in? ?

    Reply
    • michaellanza

      Thanks, Chris. I’ve swum in most of them, many have rocky shores and clear water along the shore that’s not clogged with marshy vegetation, making them quite accessible. Water temp depends on how late in summer, elevation, the lake’s depth where you’re swimming, and how much sun it gets (some lakes get more shade if they sit on the north side of tall cliffs). Generally, the temp can vary from cold but tolerable, to so chilly that it’s refreshing for less than a minute then you have to get out, to so frigid you’re swimming immediately for shore after jumping in.

      Reply
  4. Chris

    Nice picks Michael. It does look like a special place. The question though, how many of those lakes have you swam in? ?

    Reply
    • michaellanza

      Thanks, Chris. I’ve swum in most of them, many have rocky shores and clear water along the shore that’s not clogged with marshy vegetation, making them quite accessible. Water temp depends on how late in summer, elevation, the lake’s depth where you’re swimming, and how much sun it gets (some lakes get more shade if they sit on the north side of tall cliffs). Generally, the temp can vary from cold but tolerable, to so chilly that it’s refreshing for less than a minute then you have to get out, to so frigid you’re swimming immediately for shore after jumping in.

      Reply
  5. Bege Reynolds

    Wow! Beautiful photos and some of my favorites. Sometimes the places closest to home are the ones you treasure the most. Thanks for posting!

    Reply
  6. Bege Reynolds

    Wow! Beautiful photos and some of my favorites. Sometimes the places closest to home are the ones you treasure the most. Thanks for posting!

    Reply

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Hi, I'm Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside and former Northwest Editor at Backpacker magazine. Click my photo to learn more about me and my blog. Sign up for my free email newsletter in the blue box above. Click on Subscribe Now! in the main menu (top right) to get full access to all of my stories on America's best backpacking, hiking, and outdoor adventures. And click on Ask Me in the main menu to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

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