Top alpine lakes
By Damien Martin
The onset of winter makes us want to curl up by a warm fire and stare out the window at a beautiful view. Of course, at these alpine lakes, there is plenty of outdoor activity all year-round as well. If you’re inclined to just relax with a hot beverage or get out and experience nature, these lakes make for perfect getaways.
With a fjord landscape, mild year-round climate and the city of Lucerne on its shores, Lake Lucerne is a Swiss delight in all seasons. The almost 7,000-foot summit of Mt. Pilatus looms over the lake and plays a key role in the history and folklore of Switzerland. The 44-square-mile lake and its surroundings are a playground for the recreation-mad Swiss, with winter sports in the mountains and biking and cycling along the shore in other seasons.
With clear water and a ring of mountains all around, Lake Tahoe is first and foremost a feast for the eyes. It has plenty to offer your other senses, too, serving as a playground for skiing and other winter sports during cold months and for parasailing and other water sports when the weather turns warm. Elevated hiking and biking trails offer spectacular views, and casinos on the Nevada side of the lake provided entertainment year-round.
A spectacular emerald color thanks to glacial and rock runoff, Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada, is a picture-perfect sight to behold. At almost 6,000 feet of elevation with mountains and trails all around, it’s an outdoorsman’s paradise year-round. In winter, there’s world-class skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, dog-sledding and sleigh rides. In summer, there’s canoeing, hiking and horseback riding, plus the ski gondolas remain in operation to whisk visitors over alpine meadows and babbling brooks.
Straddling the border between Peru and Bolivia, Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake at 12,507 feet and the largest lake in South America. The lake is a mecca for bird-watchers, the floating islands made of reeds by the pre-Incan Uros people are unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere. Ancient temples stand on many of the more than 40 islands in the lake, which has been considered sacred by the several civilizations that have sprung up around it..
In the Southern Alps on New Zealand’s South Island near a mountain range aptly named The Remarkables, Lake Wakatipu stretches for 50 adrenaline-pumping miles. Parasailing, canyoneering and bungee-jumping are a few of the favorite area pastimes, while the vineyards of Gibbston Valley offer respite after a hard day of adventure. Queenstown has the distinction of being both a lake town and a ski town, serving as a recreation capital.