There are several great lakes less than three hour drives from the Magic Valley, but one truly offers the kind of sandy shorelines that make for a great afternoon of water play and soaking in some rays.

Approximately 125 miles northwest of Twin Falls you'll discover Alturas Lake. It's in the southern region of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. There are other lakes nearby, such as Pettit Lake, but Alturas has been a favorite of mine for one reason alone. The beaches are terrific.

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Alturas Lake is 25 miles south of the community of Stanley. Stanley Lake is another beautiful area where we spend summer weekends due to the exceptional kayaking. Alturas Lake has one stretch of shoreline that must be three to four hundred yards long and is covered with warm, white sand. It's perfect for sandcastles, beach chairs, and blankets, and the area has calm, blue water that's shallow enough for little ones.

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Alturas Lake Beach; Amy J
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It's a perfect lake for canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. There are many hidden coves to explore, and the lake is very clean. There's a parking area over the hill from the main beach, and people camp in the lot from time to time. It's a short walk to the beach, and it's hands down my favorite of all southern (or central depending on the person) Idaho lake beaches.

If you've never explored Alturas Lake, you're truly missing out. It's one of the most beautiful regions in the Gem State. It's very dog-friendly there too.

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