52 of the Most Colorful Lakes and Rivers in the World

Ask anyone what color a lake or river is, and you’ll probably get “blue” as an answer. But if you take a close look at the rivers and lakes across the planet, you’ll see that many of these bodies of water come in rare and spectacular colors.

Here’s our list of the world’s most colorful lakes and rivers:

1. Five Flower Lake

Panorama View of the Five Flower Lake.
  • Type: Lake
  • Location: Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan Province, China
  • Size: About 90,000 square meters
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: This beautiful lake’s multiple colors come from a few sources. Travertine deposits on the lake floor, various algae colors, and bright aquatic plants create multicolored patches that can be turquoise, aqua, emerald green, orange, and even rusty red.

No list of colorful bodies of water is complete without the stunning Five Flower Lake. This magnificent lake is believed by locals to be sacred. If its water is sprinkled on land, some locals believe it will lead to lush foliage and beautiful flowers. This lake is the most famous of many lakes in China’s beautiful Jiuzhaigou nature reserve, a magical place with colorful lakes, waterfalls, and snowy mountains.

2. Lake Louise

Beautiful shot of Lake Louise with boating house on the side.
  • Type: Glacial lake
  • Location: Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
  • Size: About 800,000 square meters
  • Age: Uncertain, though it was first recorded in 1882
  • Colorful feature: Thanks to “rock flour” deposits from nearby glaciers, Lake Louise is a magnificent turquoise in color. Since its surface is incredibly still, it looks like a piece of brilliant blue-green glass.

Lake Louise is one of the better-known lakes in Canada’s Banff National Park. It can be viewed from nearby hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails. In the summer, you can even canoe and kayak on it! Don’t be surprised if it’s crowded in good weather, though: Lake Louise is such a popular tourist destination that there are routinely traffic jams nearby.

3. Kelimutu Lakes

Beautiful aerial view of Kelimutu Lakes.
  • Type: Crater lakes
  • Location: Flores Island, Indonesia
  • Size: Total surface area is about 1,051,000 square meters
  • Age: Not completely certain, but they are at least thousands of years old
  • Colorful feature: The summit of the Kelimutu Volcano contains three beautiful crater lakes. Tiwu Ko’o Fai Nuwa Muri (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) is usually green, Tiwu Ata Polo (Bewitched Lake or Enchanted Lake) is usually red, and Tiwu Ata Bupu (Lake of Old People) is usually blue. However, their colors often change somewhat.

These lakes are located at the very top of the Kelimutu volcano, 1,639 meters high. Their colors are likely caused by volcanic gases interacting with the different mineral compositions of each lake. These lakes are popular with tourists, but thanks to the chemical processes behind the color changes, they are also a popular subject of study for geologists. Often, tourists will hike to the top and stay the night just to see the sunrise over the lakes!

4. Laguna Colorada

Laguna colorada with mountains in the background.
  • Type: Salt lake
  • Location: Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, Bolivia
  • Size: About 60,000,000 square meters
  • Age: Likely formed around 2 million years ago, though it was rediscovered in 1956 after it was declared “extinct”
  • Colorful feature: This lake’s name means “Red Lagoon.” It is a salt lake whose red color comes from both mineral deposits and algae. It’s a popular attraction for flamingos, so the surface often appears dotted with pink from above!

Folklore has it that Laguna Colorada contains the blood of gods. It is dotted with white bora deposits that create a striking and unexpected contrast. Notably, it attracts three species of flamingos fairly regularly: James’s flamingos, Andean flamingos, and Chilean flamingos.

5. Snake River

Beautiful sunset over snake river.
  • Type: River
  • Location: Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, United States
  • Size: About 1,735 km/1,078 mi long
  • Age: Uncertain, though Native Americans lived alongside it starting about 11,000 years ago
  • Colorful feature: The glimmering Snake River is a beautiful body of water, but much of its color comes from its diverse surroundings. The Snake River meanders through plains, goes through Hells Canyon and rolling hills, and finally pours into the massive Columbia River.

The aptly-named Snake River winds through thousands of miles of wild scenery. This river is an important salmon spawning site, so it was (and is) an important source of food. You might think the name comes from the river’s shape, but it’s actually from a misinterpretation of Shoshone sign language. A sign meaning “weaving baskets” was interpreted to mean “snake,” and the name comes from that.

6. Grand Prismatic Spring

Birdseye view of Grand Prismatic Spring In Yellowstone National Park.
  • Type: Hot spring
  • Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States
  • Size: About 107,521 square meters
  • Age: First discovered in 1839
  • Colorful feature: This is probably one of the most colorful bodies of water in the world! The Grand Prismatic Spring includes red, orange, yellow, green, and blue: nearly every color of the rainbow. Its center is deep blue, with the warmer colors showing up closer to the edge.

This beautiful spring looks like something from another planet! And due to its high temperature, its colors come from a different source than lake colors usually do. Microbes in the spring form “mats” whose colors vary depending on temperature and amounts of carotenoids and chlorophyll. The blue color in the center simply comes from the depth of the water. This spring is also capable of discharging a massive amount of water; every minute, it releases 560 gallons.

7. Spotted Lake

Spotted Lake is spotted with circular pools of different-colored minerals.
  • Type: Alkaline lake
  • Location: Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, Canada
  • Size: About 700 meters by 250 meters
  • Age: Uncertain, but it has been a sacred medicine lake for the Syilx people for centuries
  • Colorful feature: This strangely beautiful lake is spotted with circular pools of different-colored minerals. When the water evaporates, the mineral deposits are especially bright. The spots range from white to green to yellow.

There’s a reason this lake has been used as a medicine lake: it’s full of many important minerals! There are separate deposits of calcium sulfate, sodium sulfate, magnesium sulfate, and other minerals. When water evaporates in the summer, the raised deposits form sturdy “walkways” that allow you to walk around the lake. However, since it is fenced off for protection, it can’t be directly accessed by visitors.

8. Yellow River

Lanzhou Yellow River Water Mosque and Mount Baitashan Park Cityscape View Point
  • Type: River
  • Location: Stretches across most of China
  • Size: About 5,464 km/3,395 mi long
  • Age: Formed between 2000 and 1000 BC
  • Colorful feature: You may be surprised to hear that the yellow river is actually yellow! That’s because it carries a massive amount of finely-ground silt. Each year, it’s estimated to carry 1.4 billion tons of silt.

The Yellow River has a fascinating color. And while the color itself comes from natural sediment, the river is unfortunately massively polluted. Some estimates have claimed that pollution has made the river unsuitable for use in agriculture or heavy industry. Most of the pollution is from factory runoff and sewage.

9. Band-e Amir

Panoramic viewpoint of Band-e Amir National Park.
  • Type: Lakes
  • Location: Band-e Amir National Park, Bamyan Province, Afghanistan
  • Size: Total area about 6,001,488 square meters
  • Age: Uncertain, but it was established as a national park in 2009
  • Colorful feature: These lakes are a deep, rich, almost impossible blue. The grayish landscape surrounding them makes them look even more brilliant.

You might not expect to find a series of deep, nearly tropical-looking lakes in Afghanistan. Part of the intense color comes from the extreme depth of the lakes themselves; they can reach a depth of about 150 meters. The lakes bring thousands of local and international tourists every year.

10. Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls and the turquoise-colored pools below.
  • Type: Waterfall/lake
  • Location: Grand Canyon, Arizona, United States
  • Size: Pools are under a 100-foot waterfall
  • Age: Uncertain, though the falls began to appear close to the way they do now around 100 years ago.
  • Colorful feature: The brilliant color of Havasu Falls and the pools below it comes from calcium carbonate and magnesium.

This beautiful waterfall and the turquoise-colored pools below it are located on Havasupai tribal land. Fittingly, “Havasupai” means “people of the blue-green waters.” If you want to see the falls, the best way to do so is to stay at the nearby Havsupai Campground. You can access the falls via hiking trails, horseback trails, or even by helicopter. And though the falls are beautiful, they were once even more spectacular. One hundred years ago, the falls were absolutely massive. The water descended in a broad sheet, leading to the name “Bridal Veil Falls.”

11. Lake Nakuru

Pink flamingos on Lake Nakuru.
  • Type: Lake
  • Location: Part of the Rift Valley in Kenya
  • Size: Up to about 45,000,000 square meters
  • Age: Uncertain, though it was made a national park in 1968
  • Colorful feature: Lake Nakuru is beautiful in its own right. But its most colorful feature comes from the massive flamingo flocks that come to the shore to eat algae. As you can see in the photo, there are sometimes so many flamingos that the shore itself appears pink!

Lots of people come to Lake Nakuru to see the flamingos. However, the number of flamingos varies considerably with the availability of algae and the season. Most people who come to see the flamingos notice a great view from the nearby Baboon Cliff. If you go to see the flamingos, you might be happy to learn you’ll have the opportunity to see other animals as well. There is a nearby sanctuary for giraffes and black and white rhinos.

12. Jacob’s Well

Aerial view of Jacob's Well.
  • Type: Sinkhole/karstic spring
  • Location: Wimberley, Texas
  • Size: Spring mouth has a 3.7 m/12 ft diameter
  • Age: Uncertain, though it is at least hundreds of years old
  • Colorful feature: When viewed from above, the center of Jacob’s Well is a beautiful, deep aquamarine blue. It’s clear enough that you can also see the sides, which are a softer greenish brown.

Jacob’s Well is a much more intricate structure than you might think by looking at it. The main part of the spring is about 30 feet deep. But after that initial descent, it splits into two narrower passages connected to a series of underwater caves. The caves reach a depth of 137 feet. Though they can be navigated by divers, the caves are extremely dangerous. From 1964 to 1985, there have been 9 diver fatalities.

13. Kerid

Volcanic crater with vibrant blue water in Iceland.
  • Type: Crater lake
  • Location: Grimsnes area, southern Iceland
  • Size: About 57,256 square meters
  • Age: About 6,500 years old
  • Colorful feature: This crater lake is a spectacular deep blue thanks to minerals in the water. Often, it even looks opaque. The surrounding volcanic rocks form a stunning contrast too, as it is bright red (as opposed to black, like most types of volcanic rock).

This unusual crater lake likely formed when a volcano erupted, emptied its entire magma store, and collapsed in the middle. Though it is on private land, you can access it for a fee. It’s a beautiful sight at any time of year; even when frozen over, it is still glimmering and blue.

14. Gran Valira

Gran Valira flows through capital city located in the east Pyrenees.
  • Type: River
  • Location: Andorra
  • Size: 35 km/22 miles long
  • Age: Likely formed about 100,000 to 11,700 years ago
  • Colorful feature: This river is usually a tranquil, pretty shade of blue-green like you see in the picture. However, in 2017, it suddenly turned bright emerald green. This was understandably alarming, but those living by the river soon discovered that the color came from an investigation at a nearby water bottling plant. The dye was intended to identify potential sources of contamination.

Somewhat confusingly, this river is sometimes called the “Valira River” and sometimes called the “Gran Valira.” It all depends on what country’s records you’re referencing. In Spain, there is only one Valira, so you may simply see it called the Valira River or just the Valira. However, in Andorra, there are multiple Valira rivers. This one has been named the “Gran Valira” to set it apart.

15. Yamdrok Tso

Cairn-stone stack on the shore of Yamdrok Tso.
  • Type: Lake
  • Location: Tibet
  • Size: 638,000,000 square meters
  • Age: Uncertain, but it has been around since ancient times
  • Colorful feature: The name of this large lake translates to “turquoise” in English. However, as you can see from the picture, its color is sometimes closer to being cerulean. Either way, it’s a beautiful place to visit if you appreciate both history and natural beauty.

Many Tibetan people believe that sacred lakes serve as homes for protective deities. Yamdrok Tso is considered to be one of the most sacred, and even the Dalai Lama has made pilgrimages there. Local people and tourists alike come to visit the lake, walk the perimeter, and see the old Pede Dzong castle on one of the lake’s islands.

16. Lake Retba

Birdseye view of boats on shore of Lake Retba with pink water.
  • Type: Salt Lake
  • Location: Cape Vert Peninsula, Senegal
  • Size: About 3,000,000 square meters
  • Age: Uncertain, though it entered consideration for a UNESCO world heritage site designation in 2005
  • Colorful feature: Lake Retba is also called Lac Rose, a name that translates to “pink lake.” And true to the name, the waters are indeed a rosy pink. That color comes from a high presence of Dunaliella salina, a species of algae.

This lake is of significant economic importance to the people who live near it. Salt collection began in the 1970s as a way for struggling people to supplement their income. There’s plenty of salt to go around, as the water is estimated to have a salinity of around 40%. Senegal is the top salt producer in all of Africa, and it’s estimated that 38,000 tons of salt are harvested from the waters of Lake Retba each year.

17. Diego de la Haya Lake

View down into the crater lake at Irazú Volcano, Costa Rica.
  • Type: Crater lake
  • Location: At the top of the Irazú Volcano in central Costa Rica
  • Size: About 865,901 square meters
  • Age: Likely about 854,000 years old
  • Colorful feature: This crater lake has a much different color from other crater lakes on the list: it’s green! Its color could usually be described as a combination of jade green and pea green.

This stunning lake is located high above sea level; it sits atop a volcano that is 3,432 meters (11,260 feet) high. If you enjoy seeing wild animals in their natural habitats, this is a great lake to visit. It is part of Costa Rica’s Irazú Volcano National Park, a park where rabbits, owls, armadillos, woodpeckers, foxes, and hummingbirds live.

18. Rhone and Arve River Confluence

Rhone and Arve river confluence in Geneva.
  • Type: River confluence
  • Location: Both are in France and Switzerland
  • Size: Rhone is 81.69 km/505.6 mi long; Arve is 108 km/67 mi long
  • Age: Uncertain, but it was used as a highway by ancient Greeks and Romans
  • Colorful feature: As you can see in the picture above, the confluence of these two rivers involves a stark split in color! Usually, the Rhone is deep blue while the Arve is a dullish gray-brown.

The confluence of these two rivers happens in Geneva, Switzerland. The muddier color of the Arve comes from sediment-rich melted ice that flows into it from nearby glaciers. The Arve is ultimately a tributary to the Rhone, so it flows right into it. The two rivers eventually merge into one.

19. Lake Tahoe

Crystal blue water of Lake Tahoe.
  • Type: Lake
  • Location: Between California and Nevada, United States
  • Size: About 490,000,000 square meters
  • Age: Likely between 4,500 years and 4,100 years old
  • Colorful feature: Lake Tahoe stands out because of its unusually deep blue coloration. You might wonder why the lake looks like this. The answer is somewhat surprising; clear water refracts light in a way that makes it look blue, and Lake Tahoe is unusually clear.

Lake Tahoe is one of the more famous lakes on our list. It straddles the line between Nevada and California, and in both states, it’s a popular tourist attraction. In summer, boating and other forms of outdoor recreation are popular. And since the lake is surrounded by mountains, it’s also a popular ski and snowboard spot in the winter.

20. Confluence of Drava and Danube Rivers

Birdseye view of the Confluence of the Drava and Danube Rivers.
  • Type: River confluence
  • Location: Drava is in south central Europe; Danube flows across Europe through 10 countries
  • Size: Drava is 709.8 km/441 mi long; Danube is 2850 km/1770 mi long
  • Age: Uncertain, though it has been important to different cultures since ancient times.
  • Colorful feature: The stark split between the colors of the Drava and Danube is especially beautiful. On one side is deep, tranquil blue or green (depending on the day). On the other side is silt-rich opaque brown.

You may have been surprised to see that stark color difference in the river confluence above. But here is another one where the color split looks especially stark. Like the confluence above, this one involves a blue-green river and a muddy tannish river merging into one.

21. Gruner See

Beautiful green water of the Gruner See Lake.
  • Type: Lake
  • Location: Hundelshausen, Hesse, Germany
  • Size: 5,000 square meters
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: This beautiful lake is often a translucent turquoise color like you see in the picture, and it is surrounded by white sand. It’s a surprising sight to see nestled among conifers and snowy mountains.

Gruner See is a lake with an interesting history. At one point, it was used as a quarry for gypsum. Today, it is a popular lake for swimming. In winter, it usually dries up entirely. But in summer, the clear water is perfect for snorkeling, diving, or otherwise having fun on the water.

22. Peyto Lake

Scenic turquoise Peyto lake in mountains of Canada.
  • Type: Glacial lake
  • Location: Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
  • Size: About 5,300,000 square meters
  • Age: Likely formed during the last Ice Age, 115,000 to 11,700 years ago
  • Colorful feature: Like many glacial lakes, Lake Peyto has been infused with a steady supply of rock flour from melting glaciers. The minerals in the flour help to give the lake its famous, spectacular blue color. It looks especially magical against the surrounding mountains and forests.

Banff National Park is full of glacial lakes, but Lake Peyto is easily one of the most famous. In terms of tourism, it ranks third in the park, right behind Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. People come from all over the world to see the brilliant turquoise color of Lake Peyto!

23. Plitvice Lakes

Panorama view of Plitvice Lake National Park.
  • Type: Tufa lake
  • Location: Lika-Senj County, Karlovac County, Croatia
  • Size: Lakes are part of a protected area of nearly 300 square km
  • Age: Uncertain, though it was established as a park in 1949
  • Colorful feature: This sprawling collection of lakes and waterfalls is one of the most exquisitely beautiful sites on the list! As you can see in the picture, the water is often a rich aqua or turquoise, with white waterfalls pouring into it from green-dotted cliffs.

You might wonder what on Earth a tufa lake is! This is a lake whose water is quite warm. It’s able to pick up minerals from the underlying rock. This rock and water mixture eventually comes to the surface of the lake, where the water evaporates and leaves behind hardened minerals. Those mineral deposits are known as “tufa.”

24. Confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi Rivers

Confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi Rivers.
  • Type: River confluence
  • Location: Both are in Uttarakhand, India
  • Size: Alaknanda is 195 km/121 miles; Bhagirathi is 205 km/127 miles long
  • Age: Uncertain, though it seems to have been around at least since ancient civilization
  • Colorful feature: The confluence of these two rivers may not have as much contrast as the other confluences mentioned above. But it’s more colorful! As you can see in the picture, this confluence involves the merging of deep blue and blue-green rivers.

The confluence of these two rivers is of great importance to India. After all, they merge to form the great Ganges River. This river is considered to be sacred by Hindus. People who follow this religion use the water to pay respects to both gods and ancestors.

25. Lake Baikal

Beautiful view of cracked ice of frozen lake Baikal during sunrise.
  • Type: Lake
  • Location: Siberia, Russia
  • Size: About 31,722,000,000 square meters
  • Age: At least 1 million years old
  • Colorful feature: The scenic Lake Baikal is often frozen. As you can see from the picture, its water is a deep, complex blue that is hard to describe. It is frequently marked with white cracks and other markings.

Though it is cold, Lake Baikal is home to a surprising variety of species! Eighteen different types of sponges live in it, and there is a large collection of marine invertebrates, too. Currently, scientists have found at least 1,000 plant species and 2,500 animal species in it, although they suspect there are plenty more.

26. Crater Lake

Beautiful view of crystal blue crater lake.
  • Type: Crater lake
  • Location: Klamath County, Oregon, United States
  • Size: About 53,000,000 square meters
  • Age: Between about 8,000 and 6,000 years old
  • Colorful feature: This appropriately-named lake is especially deep in terms of both color and physical depth. In winter, it’s especially beautiful, as the dark blue water contrasts sharply with the snowy, forested mountains around it.

Crater Lake is a major feature of the state of Oregon, so it has been appropriately commemorated. It appears on the back of the Oregon state quarter, and it also is an option you can choose when selecting an Oregon license plate. Like many lakes, Crater Lake is a destination for many outdoor activities, including hiking, cycling, fishing, skiing, and snowshoeing.

27. Lake Masazir

Mushroom-shaped salt formation in the Masazir Lake.
  • Type: Salt lake
  • Location: Qaradağ raion, Azerbaijan
  • Size: About 10,000,000 square meters
  • Age: Uncertain, though salt has been extracted from the lake since 1813
  • Colorful feature: This is another of the handful of pink lakes on the list. Its large amounts of pink salt give it an overall pinkish hue. But as you can see in the picture, there are sometimes white, tree-like salt formations that make it look like a strange forest.

This lake has been economically important to Azerbaijan since 1813. That’s when salt was first removed from the lake for human use. Now, there is a salt-refining plant nearby that is responsible for manufacturing salt for two separate brands.

28. Saki Lake

Saturated pink water of Saki lake, Crimea.
  • Type: Salt lake
  • Location: Saki, Crimea
  • Size: About 9,700,000 square meters
  • Age: About 5,000 years old
  • Colorful feature: Like many of the salt lakes on our list, this one is pink in color. As you can see in the picture, the water is usually a dusty, mauve-tinted rose.

Not surprisingly, this lake is the source of various kinds of “medicinal muds” used in Crimea. Nearby residents can gather their own mud or use the more refined mud used at Crimean health resorts. Various minerals have collected in the water since the Ice Age, so Saki Lake is especially rich in them!

29. Chott el Djerid

Purple water in Chott el Djerid lake.
  • Type: Salt lake
  • Location: Central Tunisia
  • Size: About 7 billion square meters
  • Age: At least 35,000-25,000 years old
  • Colorful feature: This salt lake is a pretty pinkish color. The color gets darker and slightly purplish toward the center, and it’s significantly lighter toward the edges.

Like many salt lakes in very hot places, this one evaporates entirely or almost entirely in the summer. It can often be crossed by foot or by car, as the salt crust is not always reliable and can sometimes break. If you’re lucky, you can sometimes catch a glimpse of a pink flamingo or West African crocodile when you visit the lake!

30. Emerald Lakes

View at beautiful Emerald lakes in New Zealand.
  • Type: Lakes
  • Location: Tongariro, New Zealand
  • Size: About 10,000 square meters
  • Age: Likely began forming about 2,500 years ago
  • Colorful feature: These lakes are frequently a brilliant emerald green, although sometimes one will be blue. Nestled into the New Zealand countryside, they’re a beautiful sight to take in!

As you may have guessed, the striking colors of these lakes come from deposits of minerals and sometimes from rock flour. Like most volcanic crater lakes, they are also the result of volcanos that have gone dormant and partially collapsed. If you do hike in to see them in person, you’ll get a well-deserved rest at the top; the trail in is arduous, and it’s not a great idea to take it during snow season.

31. Rio Tinto

Reddish-orangish Rio Tinto in Spain.
  • Type: River
  • Location: Andalusia, Spain
  • Size: About 100 km/62 mi long
  • Age: At least 5,000 years old
  • Colorful feature: This river has a very fitting name. Most of the rivers on the list have a blue, green, or bluish-green color. However, Rio Tinto has a reddish-orange color that turns heads! The color comes from its unusual acidity and high concentrations of iron and other heavy metals.

Because of its unusually high mineral content, Rio Tinto was once mined. However, in order to preserve and protect it, mining stopped entirely in 2001. Compared to other rivers on the list, this one doesn’t have too much life. Generally, algae and other acid-loving microorganisms can handle the very low pH of the river.

32. Quilotoa

Amazing view of lake in the Quilotoa caldera.
  • Type: Crater lake
  • Location: Pujilí Canton, Cotopaxi Province, Ecuador
  • Size: About 7,06,583 square meters
  • Age: About 800 years old
  • Colorful feature: This round and beautiful crater lake has a smooth, pristinely blue-green surface. As you can see in the picture, the bright green grass and the dark snow-capped mountains surrounding it make it even more memorable.

Though it is very blue in the picture, Quilotoa often is greenish in color. That’s because of various types of dissolved minerals in the water. Though it’s a great tourism destination in its own right, it also marks the start of a hiking trail that connects several villages. The trail is appropriately called the Quilotoa Traverse.

33. Lake Pukaki

Mt. Cook appears from clouds near lake Pukaki in New Zealand.
  • Type: Glacial lake
  • Location: South Island, New Zealand
  • Size: About 17,700,000 square meters
  • Age: Uncertain, though it formed when glacial debris blocked a valley and created a dam
  • Colorful feature: As a glacial lake, Lake Pukaki gets rock flour from melting glaciers. The minerals contained in that rock flour are responsible for making the water look so beautifully blue!

If you’re an active person, you might want to take in Lake Pukaki from a bike seat. The Alps2Ocean trail follows the shoreline of the lake for a brief period of time. And if you just want to explore, you might be happy to hear that there are two other nearby glacial lakes called Lake Tekapo and Lake Ohau. All three formed at around the same time, and they run roughly parallel to one another.

34. Lake Eyre

Aerial view of Lake Eyre.
  • Type: Salt lake
  • Location: Northern South Australia
  • Size: About 9.5 billion square meters
  • Age: Formed about 11,700 years ago
  • Colorful feature: This pretty salt lake isn’t known for being as brilliantly pink as some of the other lakes on the list, but it does have a rosy hue. Like many other pink lakes, Lake Eyre’s pink coloration comes from the presence of specific types of algae.

Because it sometimes evaporates a good bit, Lake Eyre can vary dramatically in the salt content. When it is at capacity for water, it only has about the salt concentration of seawater. However, as some of the water evaporates in summer (and leaves behind the salt), the water becomes extremely salty.

35. Green River

Green river meandering through cliffs.
  • Type: River
  • Location: Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado, United States
  • Size: 1170 km/730 mi long
  • Age: Likely about 6 million years old
  • Colorful feature: As you likely expected from the name, the Green River gets its name from its demure greenish coloration. The color comes from sediments suspended in the water.

There are lots of rivers called the Green River. This is the one that is a Colorado River tributary. You might expect the sediment within the water to make it more brown than green. However, the exact color of a sediment-rich river depends on the type of sediment in it.

36. Viti Lake

Scenic view of Viti Lake in Iceland.
  • Type: Geothermal crater lake
  • Location: Askja, Iceland
  • Size: Total caldera area is 50,000,000 square meters
  • Age: Uncertain, but the first volcanic eruption was in 1875
  • Colorful feature: Viti Lake is a beautiful and serene powder blue. It’s somewhat unique on the list in that it looks opaque when viewed from above, kind of like a puddle of paint.

The bleak landscape of the Askja volcano where you can find Viti was used in NASA’s Apollo program to help astronauts prepare for moon missions. And it does look a lot like the surface of the moon, but the uniquely-colored Viti Lake adds a burst of unexpected color! It’s a strange and otherworldly place to visit, but it’s a good idea to plan ahead, as you can only access it a few months out of the year.

37. Cano Cristales

The most prominent color in Cano Cristales is red.
  • Type: River
  • Location: Serrania de la Macarena, Meta, Iceland
  • Size: 100 km/62 mi long
  • Age: Likely formed about 1.2 billion years ago; discovered by farmers in 1969
  • Colorful feature: The name of this river translates to “crystal channel,” but it is often called the “River of Five Colors” or the “Liquid Rainbow.” The colors change somewhat throughout the year, but it is usually a mixture of red, yellow, blue, black, and green.

This colorful river has many colors, but the most prominent one is probably red. The red color is caused by Macarenia clavigera plants, native aquatic herbs that are naturally red in color. Though this very clear river includes a lot of plants, most people who live nearby will tell you it does not contain any fish.

38. Lake Hillier

A pink lake next to a beach on an island.
  • Type: Salt lake
  • Location: Goldfields-Esperance, Western Australia
  • Size: About 149,734 square meters
  • Age: Uncertain, though first recorded discovery was in 1802
  • Colorful feature: Lake Hillier stands out thanks to its incredibly bright, bubblegum-pink color. Scientists believe the color is caused by Dunaliella salina, a type of micro-algae. Even if you take some of the water home in a container, it will retain the bright pink color!

When viewed from above, Lake Hillier looks like a strange paradise. Pristine white sand lines the water, and beyond that is dense and beautiful forest. The shore on one side of the lake is simply a narrow strip of land separating the lake from the deep blue waters of the Southern Ocean. Despite its high salt content, Lake Hillier is safe to swim in. However, before doing so, you need approval from Western Australia’s Department of Environment Conservation.

39. Blue Lagoon

The famous blue lagoon near Reykjavik, Iceland.
  • Type: Geothermal lake
  • Location: Southwestern Iceland
  • Size: Surface area varies, but it is about 5 feet at its deepest point
  • Age: Formed around 1976
  • Colorful feature: As you can see in the picture, the blue lagoon is an incredibly bright sky blue. The coloring comes from both silica and algae content within it. The stark, barren landscape of the lava field around it creates an incredible contrast, too!

The Blue Lagoon is an extremely popular tourist destination. Its popularity started when a psoriasis patient bathed in it and found his symptoms improved. A Blue Lagoon company formed and made commercial bathing facilities on the lagoon. You can access the lagoon for $64, but the Blue Lagoon company also offers skincare products using resources from the lagoon. These products contain salt, algae, and silica.

40. Duncan Lake

Birdseye view of Duncan Lake.
  • Type: Reservoir lake
  • Location: Kootenays, British Columbia, Canada
  • Size: 45 km/28 mi long
  • Age: Created in 1967
  • Colorful feature: As you can see from the picture, this glistening blue reservoir lake has no shortage of color in and around it. The water itself is deep blue, the forests around it are rich green, and of course the rocky, snow-capped mountains frame it from a distance.

Duncan Lake is technically a man-made dam on the Duncan River. And it’s long enough itself that it looks a bit like a river, too. The current Duncan Lake has replaced a previous, smaller lake of the same name. It’s impressively deep for a lake, too, as its maximum depth is 138 meters or 452 feet!

41. Flathead River

Crystal blue river running through Glacier National Park in Montana.
  • Type: River
  • Location: Northwestern Montana, United States
  • Size: 254 km/158 mi long
  • Age: Formation likely began about 20,000 years ago
  • Colorful feature: Many rivers change color slightly from day to day. But the Flathead River often has a rich greenish-blue coloration as you see in the picture. Its color is often surprisingly close to that of the surrounding conifers, and it looks especially beautiful against a blue sky.

The Flathead River has long been useful in the industrial world. Fur traders used it long ago, but by the 1880s, the Flathead River was used for irrigation agriculture. Today, it is a popular recreational spot, especially for whitewater rafting. It’s a great place to try if you are new to rafting, too: the international scale of river difficulty ranks it at a 1, or the easiest type of rapid. The scale goes up to a VI, which indicates “extreme and exploratory rapids.”

42. Lake McDonald

Beautiful multi-colored rocks in Lake McDonald.
  • Type: Lake
  • Location: Glacier National Park, Flathead County, Montana, United States 
  • Size: About 16 km or 10 mi long
  • Age: Formed during the Ice Age, about 18,000 years ago
  • Colorful feature: Lake McDonald is exceptionally clear. But it may be best-known for its multicolored rocks. Many of these rocks are various shades of red, indicating that the iron within them oxidized at one point. Since experts believe most of these rocks turned reddish many years ago, you may be able to see ancient ripple marks on some of them!

The wonderfully blue, clear lakes of national parks have made several appearances on our list. Lake McDonald enjoys the distinction of being the largest lake in Glacier National Park; as you saw above, it is often measured by length rather than by surface area. 

43. Colorado River

Aerial view of Horeshoe Bend with red rocks and glistening green-blue river.
  • Type: River
  • Location: Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico
  • Size: 2330 km/1450 mi long
  • Age: Likely between about 34 and 55 million years old
  • Colorful feature: Both the Colorado River and its surroundings are quite colorful! The area in the picture is Horseshoe Bend, Arizona. And as you can see, the river is flanked by red rocks, while the water itself is a strange, glistening green-blue.

The beautiful and massive Colorado River flows through 11 national parks! Many points of the river feature breathtaking canyons and layered, bright cliffs. And though the river is useful, it serves a very practical purpose as well; it is a water source for 40 million people!

44. Crater Lakes in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Panoramic view of a crater lake in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.
  • Type: Volcanic crater lakes
  • Location: Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda
  • Size: Variable; there are many crater lakes in the region!
  • Age: Likely formed about 8,000 years ago
  • Colorful feature: Like many especially deep crater lakes, the ones at Queen Elizabeth National Park are often blackish blue. Some have slender bands of yellow around the edges too. And of course, the surrounding bright green foliage creates a beautiful contrast!

If you go to Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park is a sight you really don’t want to miss! Along with the vast stretch of crater lakes, you can see wildlife like elephants, cape buffalo, and warthogs. At Katwe Salty Lake, you can also get a glimpse into Africa’s extensive history of salt mining. 

45. Lake Okama

Green Lake Okama in volcanic crater.
  • Type: Crater lake
  • Location: Mt. Zao, Japan (between the Yamagata and Miyagi prefectures) 
  • Size: About 79,577 square meters
  • Age: Formed in the 1720s
  • Colorful feature: This stunning crater lake has been nicknamed the “Lake of Five Colors.” That’s because it changes to various shades of blue and blue-green throughout the day. They range from emerald to turquoise!

Mount Zao, where this magnificent lake sits, is one of Japan’s over 100 active volcanoes. Still, plenty of people come each year to visit the mesmerizing Lake Okama. The name comes from the fact that the lake is shaped like a giant okama cooking pot.

46. River Neath

Confluence of a tributory stream and the River Neath.
  • Type: River
  • Location: South Wales
  • Size: 30.6 km/19 mi long
  • Age: Uncertain, though it likely has been around since ancient times
  • Colorful feature: The River Neath is one of the shorter rivers on our list, but its many tributary confluences are especially pretty. As you can see in the picture, many of them flow so quickly that they become whitewater. The river’s course goes through peaceful woodlands, so you can see a smattering of deep green moss and ferns, too!

If you’re looking for a glimpse into European history, just follow the course of the River Neath. It flows by the remains of the Neath Abbey, passes by the Norman Castle, and even meanders by an ancient Roman fort! It’s dotted with small waterfalls, making it a peaceful and unique place to visit.

47. Lake Taal

Active taal volcano inside bigger crater lake.
  • Type: Caldera lake
  • Location: Luzon, Philippines
  • Size: About 234,200,000 square meters
  • Age: Likely between 500,000 and 100,000 years old
  • Colorful feature: A lot of volcanic crater lakes on the list have been a pretty blue in color. But it might surprise you to see that Lake Taal is actually a fairly intense green.

This lake is a striking one to take in in person. Some people say that you can even see the remnants of former lakeside towns beneath the surface! That’s because a large eruption in 1754 blocked the lake outlet and made the waters rise so high that they engulfed nearby towns. And oddly enough, though it was once a saltwater lake, Lake Taal became a freshwater lake after many centuries of rain.

48. Tiete River

Waterfalls on the Tiete River in urban Brazil.
  • Type: River
  • Location: São Paulo, Brazil
  • Size: 1150 km/710 mi long
  • Age: Uncertain, though it was likely around since ancient times
  • Colorful feature: As you can see in the picture, the Tiete River has a series of tiny, foamy waterfalls that stand out against the rocky shores. The whitewater on the waterfalls themselves creates a pretty contrast with the surrounding green trees.

Though the Tiete is a beautiful river that is highly important to much of Brazil, it is the most polluted river in the nation. The gradual pollution of the river only began a few decades ago. Luckily, local governments have initiated programs for river cleanup. The Tiete is still highly polluted, although the cleanup efforts have made a significant difference. A good bit of that effort has been focused on the part of the Tiete flowing right through São Paulo, as this is the most polluted stretch by far.

49. Moraine Lake

Sunrise on Moraine lake.
  • Type: Glacial lake
  • Location: Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
  • Size: About 492,097 square meters
  • Age: Formed during the last Ice Age, about 115,000 to 11,700 years ago
  • Colorful feature: Since Moraine Lake is another glacier-fed lake, it has the magnificent turquoise color often seen in glacier lakes. Its fantastic blue color and incredible mountain views have led to it being used as a background picture for many different operating systems.

If you visit Banff National Park, Moraine Lake is a must-visit! You have the option of staying in Moraine Lake Lodge, and there are multiple trailheads that let you experience the beauty of the lake from afar. One trail, the Rockpile Trail, will take you to a lake view that is one of Canada’s most photographed locations!

50. Lake Natron

Aerial view of Lake Natron with bright red color attributed to salt loving halophile organisms.
  • Type: Salt lake
  • Location: Ngorongoro District, Arusha Region, Tanzania
  • Size: Surface area varies widely based on water level; at maximum, it is 57 km/35 mi long
  • Age: Likely formed between 2,580,000 and 11,700 years ago
  • Colorful feature: This salt lake is a deep blood red that is more intense than other lakes on the list. That’s because the saline-rich water left after evaporation is a great place for various microorganisms to thrive. The large masses of these organisms lead to the intense red color.

The best way to really take in the color of Lake Natron is the view from above. You’ll get to see the dark red color, but you’ll probably notice the little “rafts” of white salt crusts too.

51. Blood Hell Hot Spring

Bright red Blood Hell Hot Spring.
  • Type: Hot springs
  • Location: Beppu, Japan
  • Size: Varies; it is a collection of hot springs and lakes
  • Age: Likely formed in the 17th century
  • Colorful feature: These hot ponds and lakes vary considerably in color. Some of the most ominous-looking are bright red due to high iron content, while the white steam coming off of them adds an air of mystery.

Beppu is a fascinating Japanese town that is dotted with thousands of small and large hot springs. As far back as 1914, one traveler wrote that some residents were even able to cook food over holes in the ground since the volcanic heat was so great!

52. Laguna Verde

Laguna Verde in front of magnificant snow-capped volcano.
  • Type: Salt lake
  • Location: Altiplano, Bolivia
  • Size: About 7,510,965 square meters
  • Age: Likely formed around 20 million years ago
  • Colorful feature: This calm green lake is a cool-colored counterpart to Bolivia’s red Laguna Colorada. The name means “green lake,” but as you can see in the picture, it’s often an intense aqua!

Last on the list is this stunning, bright blue lake. It’s right at the foot of Licancabur, a magnificent snow-capped volcano. If you’re fond of nature photography or just want to go somewhere memorable, this is a great lake to visit!

Nature’s Brightly Colored Lakes and Rivers

Hopefully your day has been brightened by these otherworldly rivers and lakes! While they are even more spectacular in person, they can still be enjoyed from behind the screen. Of course, keep an eye out around you: a colorful river, lake, or pond may well be just around the corner!