Lake. That single word elicits a whirlwind of exciting thoughts. And for most boaters, that same enthusiasm draws us back to the water every season for opportunity to get in touch with our child-psyche… the one that knows how to have some fun.
While your local lakes provide much opportunity to feed that hunger, an extended, on-water houseboat rental vacation to a new location offers an opportunity to refresh your want for adventure. Whether you are looking to head north or south, east or west, you’ll likely find a grand get-away in this year’s batch of rental lake destinations designed to trigger the exploration your inner-kid has been craving.
1000 Islands, N.Y.
The 1000 Islands, or more appropriately, the 1,800-plus islands are a must-see northern summer retreat. The waters of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River converge in this area, creating a dramatic and unique waterway. Imagine a garden of trees—in order for an island to be legitimate, it must meet the criteria of having been above water 365 days a year and support at least two trees. Some are larger than others, some privately owned, others simply there. Perhaps the greatest appeal to the 1000 Islands region is the celebration that carries on during the summer months. August offers the antique boat show as well as a powerboat poker run and various fishing tournaments. A decoy and wildlife art festival is held in July and throughout the summer months, music festivals.
Events also include celebration of various cultures. If you are of Irish, French or Italian descent, you can find celebrations in honor of your origins during various times of the season. This area is not without its patriotism, either. Because of its unique location between the U.S. and Canada, celebrations are held in honor of both countries, Canada Day (July 1st) and the Fourth of July featuring fireworks, parades and concerts throughout the area. Houseboat can be rented at Rideau Lakes Houseboats (www.rideauhouseboats.com.)
Lake Lanier, Ga.
Have you ventured to Lake Lanier, Georgia yet? Well if not, add it to your list of rental destinations. It boasts 692 beautiful miles of shoreline with parks, picnic areas and campgrounds. It has been called the Crown Jewel of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes and is a popular destination for weekend getaways, day trips and especially extended vacations.
There are many private marinas on the lake, and it’s noted for fine black bass fishing. The striped bass, spotted and largemouth bass are popular here too with plenty of trophy fish available for the taking in this deep, highland reservoir. Harbor Landing
(www.lakelanierislands.com) is just one of many marinas offering houseboat rentals if you are planning to stay awhile. The easy-paced peace of the South can be felt at this breathtaking summer location. The mild climate makes it possible to enjoy many outdoor activities year-round. Fishing and nearby golfing or a tour of the local winery are just a few favorites. But, its historical roots are one of Lake Lanier’s most impressive areas of interest. Civil War history can be learned in nearby Gainesville and while the larger part of your day would be well-spent relaxing on the water, evening offers entertainment and generally a houseboat party or two on the lake. This lake is a popular camping place, so if you’re looking for a spot you can camp at Chestnut Ridge, Van Pugh, Old Federal and Shady Grove.
Hiking at Laurel Ridge Trail, connecting Buford Dam with the South End camping and day use areas is a beautiful way to spend the afternoon. You can enjoy the picturesque scenery of this 3.8 mile loop trail or hike the Buford Dam Trail when you’re ready to get off the houseboat for a while.
Lake Lanier is also known for its golfing opportunity as many of the best golf courses in Georgia are close to the lake shores. For a truly luxurious retreat, check out Emerald Pointe Resort’s spa services and 18-hole par-72 championship golf course and later, a diverse selection of dining options.
Lake Mead, Nev.
An oasis in the grit of the desert southwest, Lake Mead holds the title of being the largest man-made lake and reservoir in the United States. Located on the Colorado River just 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, this lake was impounded by the construction of the Hoover dam in 1936. The Lake Mead National Recreation area is the fifth most visited national park in the United States. With summer heat, water sports, swimming and fishing are all popular activities at Mead.
Some of the more unique offerings here include a boat or air tour of the Grand Canyon, horseback riding and for the more daring thrill-seeker in your family, skydiving.
With Vegas nearby, there’s no shortage for accommodations. But if you want to maximize your time on the water, check out a houseboat rental at Callville Bay Resort and Marina (www.calvillebay.com.)
Lake of the Ozarks, Mo.
While the Lake of the Ozarks’ “Party Cove” elicits raised eyebrows from time to time, this pristine Missouri lake offers breath-taking splendor beyond the notoriety it has garnered in recent years. If you are looking for miles upon miles of wooded shoreline and plenty of water to explore, Lake of the Ozarks fits the bill. Impounded by the Bagnell dam, the lake features over 55,000 acres of water and 1,150 miles of shoreline defining the inlets and various coves that create the lake’s Chinese dragon shape. You could reasonably spend an entire week exploring Lake of the Ozarks and never see it all. But off the water are even more activities to fill the hours once the sun disappears. Nearby shopping at the Osage Beach premium outlets and the Stone Crest Mall cater to those looking for the perfect gift or souvenir. If exploration is your thing, check out one of Missouri’s 5,550 registered and mapped caves—it’s a perfect way to escape the summer heat, the cave’s temperature stays at a constant 50 to 60 degrees year-round. Few places in the country can rival Lake of the Ozarks’ autumn beauty. In fact, it is difficult to fully experience its grandeur without actually taking in the full sensory experience of getting out on its waters. While “LOTO” may be a notorious summer party destination, during the fall season the lake quiets to a rest, creating a completely different experience. Its shores are scattered with a patchwork of vivid autumn tones ranging from the deepest purples to the most vivid yellow. Add a little morning fog to the mix and it is easy to see why Lake of the Ozarks is a photographer’s paradise. Locals say the lake is one of the best year-round fishing lakes anywhere. You'll catch crappie, muskie, bass, catfish, walleye and bluegill. This sprawling lake features ample shore-side dining options, a multitude of full-service marinas, plenty of offshore shopping and over a dozen spectacular golf courses to choose from. Check out a houseboat rental at Lake of the Ozarks Marina (www.lakeoftheozarksmarina.com) during the off-season and get a great rate while discovering why this autumn destination must be experienced first hand to truly appreciate its many unique attractions.
Lake Powell, Utah
The completion of Glen Canyon Dam in 1963 was officially the birth of Lake Powell, which is arguably one of the most scenic lakes in the United States and a major houseboat haven. Powell’s red rocky cliffs and immense canyons and coves nestled against the Navajo Reservation have often served as the set of films because of its unique and mysterious terrain. That is due, in part to its unique red-rock, desert-style surroundings, which are a result of compressed sand dunes from a time when the entire region was sea floor. Of course, that was millions of years ago—what remains is a breathtaking display of varying shades of sandstone forming magnificently deep canyons and arches. One of the most impressive examples of this unique terrain is Rainbow Bridge, the largest natural bridge in the world at 290 feet in height with a span of 270 feet. Until the formation of Lake Powell, Rainbow Bridge was virtually inaccessible to the average traveler. The water has made it possible to reach this wonder by boat. Don’t forget to check out the stars; the view of space on a clear night is mesmerizing.
While it’s a popular summer destination, the secret about Lake Powell is that after the season slows down, there is plenty of boating time to be had and the fall months are quite possibly the best time to enjoy it. The temperature is prime, the water is perfect and the air carries a fall feeling that begs you to unwind and enjoy a weekend or week away from it all.
Off the water, must-see opportunities include a slot canyon photography tour by Antelope Canyon Tours operated by Carolene Ekis. Make tour reservations on line at www. antelopecanyon.com Take a short trek to nearby Horseshoe Bend for a plummeting view of the Colorado River. The unique terrain of this lake, which lies on the border of southern Utah and Arizona, makes for intense photography and one-of-a-kind exploration.
Two major rental operators, Antelope Point Marina (www.antelopepointlakepowell.com) and Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas (www.lakepowell.com) can facilitate a number of adventures depending on the size of your group and your boating needs. But, take along a GPS—many unseasoned boaters have gotten turned around on Powell, its winding, extensive canyons can seem deceptively familiar.
Lake Texoma, Texas
Check out the sandy beaches, islands, secluded coves and blue skies of Lake Texoma by houseboat. Texoma Charters, (www.texomacharters.com) offer rentals at this 89,000-acre lake that rests on the Red River, shared by Texas and Oklahoma. If angling is your thing, this lake is widely recognized as a top fishing lake, and of the most popular recreation destinations in the Southwest. Built in the 1940s by the Corps of Engineers, Lake Texoma was stocked with black bass and crappie along with native white bass in the Red and Washita Rivers.
Families can enjoy a wide array of activities at this classic lake destination. Whether you are in to watersports, hiking, camping or all of the above, the local businesses offer vacation options to appeal to a huge array of interests, all under the spell of Lake Texoma’s breath taking scenery. If you are an observant visitor, you may catch a glimpse of the bald eagles that frequently make appearances along the lake’s sandy shores.
Lake Texoma also features two wildlife refuges, two state parks, 54 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-managed parks as well as 26 resorts and hundreds of campgrounds. Not to mention the golf course, Chickasaw Pointe, at the ready.
This lake is ready and waiting for your enjoyment in the early season. From power sailing to houseboating, there is plenty of room for all with the serpentine shape of the lake. You’ll enjoy one of the many sheltered coves when you’re ready to slow down a bit and relax. It offers houseboat rentals as well as party barges and personal watercrafts.
It’s of course a great place to fish, and “striper” may be the word of the day if you test the waters here. It offers professional fishing guide services for everyone from the beginner to the more advanced angler. This is a great lake with plenty of anchoring points and a vast area for cruising in a houseboat, and there are plenty of marinas available with houseboat rentals.
Trinity Lake, Calif.
Trinity Lake, otherwise known as Clair Engle Lake is one of California’s hidden gems. You may even find a little of your own hidden treasure along its shores. Gold panning is a great way to spend the afternoon if you have the patience to sift through grains in search of a nugget or two. But the lake itself is typically known for its many small arms, glassy inlets and great water-skiing conditions.
Houseboaters can see the unparalleled beauty of the jagged, granite peaks of the Salmon-Trinity Primitive Area, which covers 283,000 acres. The lake has an elevation of 2300 feet and a shoreline of 145 miles. Summertime air temperatures can reach into the 80s and 90s while the water temperature can get up to the 80s. Fishermen can find a variety of fish in the lake, including smallmouth and largemouth bass, catfish, kokanee and rainbow and brown trout. Houseboat rentals are available at Trinity Lake Resort and Marina (www.trinitylakeresort.com) or Trinity Alps Marina (www.trinityalpsmarina.com.)