Land locked in the Western U.S.? No need to fear, we have five great sailing lakes in the Inter-mountain West. When we first moved to Utah, we thought our days of leaving work early to catch an early sail out of the harbor had come to an end. We were pleasantly surprised to find that even in Utah, people like to sail! If you are anywhere in a western U.S. and you are looking for some fellow salty comrades or just a windy spot for the day check these lakes out.
1. Flathead Lake, MT
Flathead Lake, Montana is the largest fresh water lake on this side of the Mississippi. At 27.3 mi (43.9 km) long and up to 15.5 mi (24.9 km) wide, there is a lot of room to tack. It’s deep too. Flathead averages about 164.7ft (deeper than the Persian Gulf) and it has a max depth of 370.7 ft (113.0 m) so you can take your big schooner or yacht out without any worries of scraping the bottom. If you like to sail with friends, the members of the North Flathead Lake Yacht Club are always looking to meet fellow sailors. You can’t beat the views here of the pristine waters reflecting the majestic mountains that surround the lake.
2. Lake Dillon, CO
Speaking of sailing in the mountains, head to the Rockies amidst the 13,000 ft peaks that outline Lake Dillon. Colorado is famous for its high elevations and Lake Dillon is no exception. Each year the Dillon Yacht Club hosts the Dillon Open Regatta, the world’s highest regatta at 9,017 ft above sea level. The tall mountains ensure a breeze that every sailor dreams of.
3. Coeur D’Alene Lake, ID
A popular summertime retreat Coeur D’Alene, Idaho is also home to a long and narrow lake that just happens to be perfect for sailing. This picturesque mountain lake is home to not one but TWO Yacht Clubs. The Panhandle Yacht Club is located About 10 miles south on hwy 97 from the I 90 wolf lodge-harrison exit, east of Coeur d’ Alene. The Spokane Yacht Club is on the north side of the lake. On any given summer evening just after the sun sets, a warm land breeze forms called the Wolf Lodge Express making night sailing the best time to be out on the water.
4. Bear Lake, UT/ID
At Get Wet Sailing, we know Bear Lake the best on this list. It has been a must every summer for the past 20 years. This lake is 208 ft (63 m) deep, 7.1 mi (11.4 km) wide and 18.3 mi (29.5 km) long. Our favorite nickname for this lake is “the Caribbean of the Rockies” since a special bacteria grows making it a striking Caribbean blue color. You can also sail over the state line starting on the North end in Idaho and finishing on the South end in Utah. The breeze here in the summer is steady making it a great location to sail. The Bear Lake Yacht Club is an active group during the summer months and plays host to several races during the season. And if you’re looking for some fun offshore activities, be sure to visit during the first weekend in August for Raspberry Days.
5. Lake Tahoe, NV
This lake is technically out of the Rockies and in the middle of the Sierra Nevada. Lake Tahoe is another example where you can sail from California to Nevada in one afternoon and never touch land. It is a huge tourist destination year round making it the most well-known lake on our list. It is the second deepest lake in the continental United States at a depth of 1,645 ft (501 m) and it is home to lots of good sailing. Just ask anyone over at the Tahoe Yacht Club they know when and where the best time to sail on the lake. If you want to relax and be tourist on the water, check out Tahoe Sailing Charters, they can set you up on a sailing cruise unique to Tahoe. ~GWS
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