Chelan -- Frigid and Nordic-like, Lake Chelan reaches depths of up to 1,500 feet -- one of the nation's deepest lakes. The Lady of the Lake is the old but regal cruise boat (www.ladyofthelake.com), that makes daily rounds with much noise and ado. My family wrote a song called, "I see the Lady of the Lake," because as children, my sister and our friends would wait eagerly for the slow, rumbling sound of the Lady to mark her evening rounds. When visiting, take the waterway less traveled; just beyond Wapato Point, which was, if you can believe it, once a public hiking trail leading to a Zen-like gazebo, is the waterway leading to Lake Chelan's northernmost portion, a four-mile area that includes the remote community of Stehekin and the North Cascades National Park. Lake Chelan stretches a full 50 miles into the Cascade Mountains. Visit: www.lakechelan.com
Priest -- Judging by its history, Priest Lake and the state park surrounding it have long been coveted by a variety of people, from Jesuits to loggers to privacy-seeking homesteaders. And it's still got a spot for everyone. The "over-50s only areas" are nicely separated from more raucous camping crowds, and, of course, there is plenty of wilderness for a solo journey. Visit: www.priestlake.org
Williams -- The first time I jumped off a cliff I landed in Williams Lake. Though it was nighttime, the moon shone brightly enough that I could see the edges and curves of the basalt rock formations all around. Williams, located just south of Cheney, is a 360-acre fishing lake, but boats with outboard motors can pull skiers and there's a small beach for sunbathing and swimming. There's no shortage of cliff jumpers, either. Klink's, the restaurant at Williams Lake Resort, serves divine food. The public boat launch is closing temporarily starting July 24 for repairs. Call 235-2391.
Coeur d'Alene -- It gets busy during the summer, and it's often too choppy for good skiing, but there's so much going on at Lake CdA that you won't miss the boat's pull. Besides the resort and the city beach, which boast a plethora of gorgeous crafts and people, there are numerous opportunities on the lake; it doesn't take long to discover smaller bays with water sport rentals, restaurants and swimming holes. Visit: www.coeurdalene.org or www.cdaresort.com
Pend Oreille -- This is the largest lake in Idaho (180 square miles) and the fifth-deepest in the nation (1,158 feet). Most people access Lake Pend Oreille by way of Sandpoint, which has a city beach, public boat launches and lakeside events throughout the summer. With 111 miles of shoreline, there are plenty of other points of access, too. At Bottle Bay Resort and Marina, for instance, you can dock, gas up and get a strong daiquiri or a great hamburger. Visit: www.sandpointonline.com. If you're into sailing, check out: www.sandpointsailing.com
Fish -- Those who enjoy peace and quiet as they while away the long summer days will enjoy Fish Lake because no motorcraft are allowed. Fish Lake is stocked with lots of delicious brook trout and one end of the lake is scattered with lily pads. The area used to be a resort but is now a county park. Instead of driving, take the Fish Lake Trail, a quiet, partially paved trail that begins in Spokane, leads to the lake, and then extends, turning into the Columbia Plateau Trail for another 10 miles or so toward Cheney. Visit: www.spokaneoutdoors.com/fishlake/htm
Roosevelt -- Located in the northeast corner of Washington, Lake Roosevelt is known for its fantastic Walleye fishing and house boating vacations. At 130 miles long, the lake is the result of Grand Coulee Dam. Named after FDR, Lake Roosevelt has 23 boat ramps and four marinas. For houseboat information, visit: www.lakeroosevelt.com/default.asp. For general information, visit: www.lrf.org/index/html
Kootenay -- It may be in Canada, but it's impossible to ignore Kootenay Lake when listing the must-sees of our region. An ancient glacial body of water, Kootenay Lake extends for 90 miles up into British Columbia. The lake water is so pure that it's drinkable. Much of the land surrounding Kootenay is undeveloped, and spotting moose, deer, elk, bear, coyote or a mountain goat is common. Numerous charming towns, including Creston, Nelson and Kaslo, are nearby and wilderness treks or drives will take you to small ghost towns, artisan shops and out-of-the-way resorts and B & amp;Bs. Take the Kootenay Lake Ferry (schedules at www.crestonvalley.com/ferry/index.html). Visit www.kootenaylake.bc.ca for general information.