As the “Gem State,” Idaho lives up to its nickname, with gorgeous sceneries – rugged cliffs, winding rivers, snow-covered mountains, and bright blue lakes. Idaho is home to countless popular lakes, and charming hidden gems, making it one of the many amazing areas to buy a lakefront property.

At Redfin, we’ve collected a list of 10 popular lakes in Idaho to live on. Whether you’re drawn to the tranquil shores of Bear Lake, the expansive vistas of Lake Pend Oreille, or the vibrant community around Lake Coeur d’Alene, there’s a lakeside home for you. 

1. Bear Lake (St. Charles)

Nearest city: St. Charles, ID
Median home sale price: $870,000
Population: 130
Homes for sale in St. Charles
Apartments for rent in St. Charles

Bear Lake, is located in the quaint town of St. Charles and is a great option for those looking for a peaceful lakeside lifestyle. Known as the “Caribbean of the Rockies” for its stunning turquoise water, Bear Lake spans the Idaho-Utah border and has ample opportunities for water sports, fishing, and relaxation. The area is surrounded by lush forests and mountains, making it a perfect spot for hiking and wildlife viewing. With a small population, St. Charles offers a tight-knit community feel, while still being close to other small towns like Bloomington, Paris, and Fish Haven.

2. Island Park Reservoir (Island Park)

Nearest city: Island Park, ID
Population: 200
Homes for sale in Island Park, ID
Apartments for rent in Island Park, ID

Island Park Reservoir is a hidden gem located in Island Park, offering a secluded option for nature and outdoor enthusiasts. This expansive body of water is ideal for fishing, boating, and kayaking, with the surrounding wilderness providing endless trails for hiking and mountain biking. The small community of Island Park is known for its welcoming atmosphere and stunning natural beauty, making it a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. The nearby Harriman State Park, Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, and Caribou-Targhee National Forest make Island Park Reservoir a great lake town in Idaho to live on if you want to explore the great outdoors.

3. Lake Cascade (Cascade)

Nearest city: Cascade, ID
Median home sale price: $605,000
Population: 1,000
Homes for sale in Cascade, ID
Apartments for rent in Cascade, ID

Cascade has a vibrant community and a plethora of outdoor activities, making it a great choice for those seeking a lake town lifestyle in Idaho. Lake Cascade is a popular destination for fishing, sailing, and windsurfing, while the surrounding area has hiking trails, like the Skein Lake Trail or the Willow Creek Trail. Cascade’s small-town charm, combined with its outdoor recreation opportunities, creates a perfect balance for residents. The town is also home to several local restaurants, community parks, and activities along the Payette River.

lake coeur d'alene and resort on the shores

4. Lake Coeur d’Alene (Coeur d’Alene)

Nearest city: Coeur d’Alene, ID
Median home sale price: $616,000
Average 1-bedroom rent: $1,657
Population: 52,000
Homes for sale in Coeur d’Alene, ID
Apartments for rent in Coeur d’Alene, ID

Lake Coeur d’Alene, set in the vibrant city of Coeur d’Alene, is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and scenic beauty. This lake is a haven for boaters, swimmers, and anglers alike, offering a wide range of water activities. The city of Coeur d’Alene has a bustling downtown area, with plenty of dining, shopping, and entertainment options. The Coeur d’Alene Resort, located on the lake’s shores, adds a touch of luxury with its world-class amenities and golf course. The area’s natural beauty is complemented by the numerous parks and trails, like Tubbs Hill, Blackwell Island Recreation Site, and Canfield Mountain Natural Trail.

5. Lake Lowell (Nampa)

Nearest city: Nampa, ID
Median home sale price: $412,250
Average 1-bedroom rent: $1,399
Population: 106,000
Homes for sale in Nampa, ID
Apartments for rent in Nampa, ID

Lake Lowell, located in Nampa, offers residents a peaceful retreat within a larger city. This lake is part of the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, providing a sanctuary for birds and wildlife, and a beautiful backdrop for outdoor activities such as boating, fishing, and picnicking. Nampa’s vibrant community is home to the Ford Idaho Center, hosting concerts, rodeos, and other events. The city also has a variety of local eateries, breweries, and wineries, reflecting Idaho’s rich agricultural heritage. If you’re looking for a blend of city life and outdoors, then living near Lake Lowell may just be for you.

6. Lake Pend Oreille (Sandpoint)

Nearest city: Sandpoint, ID
Median home sale price: $469,500
Population: 8,900
Homes for sale in Sandpoint, ID
Apartments for rent in Sandpoint, ID

Lake Pend Oreille has a breathtaking beauty and a vast array of recreational activities, attracting residents from all over. As Idaho’s largest lake, it offers prime conditions for sailing, fishing, and water sports. Sandpoint, the nearest town, has a vibrant arts scene, including the annual Festival at Sandpoint music event, which blends with the natural beauty of the area. The town also serves as a gateway to the Schweitzer Mountain Resort, providing year-round outdoor adventures, from skiing in the winter to mountain biking in the summer.

payette lake in idaho with trees and blue water

7. Payette Lake (McCall)

Nearest city: McCall, ID
Median home sale price: $825,000
Population: 3,000
Homes for sale in McCall, ID
Apartments for rent in McCall, ID

Payette Lake, situated in the picturesque town of McCall, is the seventh on our list of lakes in Idaho to live on. This glacial lake is surrounded by dense forests and mountains, offering stunning views and a tranquil environment. At Payette Lake, you can find a beach, boat ramps, and fishing areas. McCall is known for its Winter Carnival, a celebration that brings the community together with parades, snow sculptures, and events. There’s an array of outdoor activities in the area, including skiing at nearby Brundage Mountain and hiking in Ponderosa State Park. With its natural beauty and active lifestyle, Payette Lake has activities for everyone.

8. Priest Lake (Coolin)

Nearest city: Coolin, ID
Median home sale price: $1,060,000
Population: 10
Homes for sale in Coolin, ID
Apartments for rent in Coolin, ID

Priest Lake is a stunning lake located in the Selkirk Mountains. With pristine waters and untouched wilderness Priest Lake is a paradise for those who love the outdoors, with activities ranging from hiking and mountain biking to snowmobiling and skiing in the winter. The nearest town is Coolin with a population of just about 10, so this area is ideal for those looking to connect with nature. The lake’s crystal-clear waters and scenic beauty make it a great lake to swim, boat, fish, or simply enjoy the views.

9. Redfish Lake (Stanley)

Nearest city: Stanley, ID
Median home sale price: $928,000
Population: 100
Homes for sale in Stanley, ID
Apartments for rent in Stanley, ID

Redfish Lake, set against the dramatic backdrop of the Sawtooth Mountains in Stanley, is a breathtaking destination. The lake’s clear, cold waters are perfect for kayaking, paddleboarding, and swimming, while the surrounding wilderness offers miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking. Stanley, with its small population, provides a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, making it a perfect escape for those looking for a nature retreat. The annual Sawtooth Salmon Festival celebrates the area’s natural heritage, offering educational and recreational activities.

10. Snake River (American Falls)

Nearest city: American Falls, ID
Median home sale price: $270,000
Population: 4,500
Homes for sale in American Falls, ID
Apartments for rent in American Falls, ID

Snake River, flowing through the town of American Falls, takes the last spot on our list of lakes in Idaho. While technically a river, Snake River is known for its world-class fishing, boating, and water sports opportunities. The American Falls Reservoir, created by the damming of the Snake River, provides additional water activities and scenic views. The town of American Falls has a community feel with easy access to outdoor adventures. The nearby Massacre Rocks State Park adds to the area’s appeal, offering hiking, rock climbing, and historical exploration. Snake River’s landscape and various activities make it an awesome destination for those seeking an active and serene lakeside life.

Note, this list is not comprehensive of all the lakes in Idaho. Median home sale price data from the Redfin Data Center during April 2024. Average rental data from April 2024. Population data sourced from the United States Census Bureau.

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