Argentino Lake, Santa Cruz, Argentina

Lake Locations:

Argentina - Patagonia - Santa Cruz -

Also known as:  Lago Argentino, Lake Argentino

Argentino Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Argentina, covers a massive 362,255 acres in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, Argentina. The lake lies within the Los Glaciares National Park, tucked away in the Andes Mountains. The landscape of the area is definitely unique with its massive ice fields and gigantic glaciers, and serves as a popular tourist destination. Cool in the summer and warm in the winter, visitor can enjoy fishing, boating, camping and spectacular close up views of the magnificent glaciers.

Lago Argentino is fed by the glacial meltwater of several rivers and many mountain streams. The lake is a whitish green color due to the abundant glacier lime. Two colossal glaciers use Argentino Lake as a meeting point. The Perito Moreno Glacier is a continuously moving ice mass from which massive blocks of ice break off and fall with a thunderous crash into the lake. Opposite Perito Moreno, in the Northern Arm of the lake, is Upsala Glacier at 31 miles long and 6 miles wide. These two glaciers keep the lake full of gigantic, yet beautiful icebergs. Once in the lake, these icebergs, which may vary in color from pure white to sapphire blue, are adrift until they completely melt.

The Los Glaciares National Park was established in 1937 and covers an area of 1,722 square miles. It has two distinct regions: forests and grassy plains in the east and mountain peaks, lakes, and glaciers in the west. The highest point is Mount Fitzroy at 11,073 feet in the northern area of the park. Along with Perito Moreno and Upsala, there are 200 minor glaciers in the park. For those who like to commune with nature, the park offers lakes and rivers, hiking trails through forests and over snow covered mountains, and boat excursions affording spectacular views of the glaciers. The park is home to varied wildlife such a fox, rabbit, deer, and some endangered species of miniature deer. On the shore of Lago Argentino, there is a campground, with restaurants, a picnic area and restrooms. Most visitors come to the park to view the Patagonian ice field. The ice sheet covers an area of about 1000 square miles and is the second largest in the world after Antarctica.

Although the water is cold, fishing in Argentino Lake is popular with perch, lake trout and rainbow trout being the predominant species. Boat launches can be found at Los Glaciares National Park and at small parks and boatyards surrounding the lake. One of the best spots for fishing is at Punta del Lago (End of the Lake), a large bay known for is rainbow and lake trout. Fly fishing in the many mountain rivers and streams is also a great way to spend the day. Fishing guides are available.

If looking for a place to stay, the city of El Calafate is situated near the southern border of Argentino Lake. Known as the national capital of the glaciers, El Calafate is a popular tourist destination in the summer months with many hotels and group tours offering trips that takes tourists to the base of the glaciers and the tops of the mountains. In El Calafate you will find all kind of shops with unique local handmade items, restaurants offering fresh fish from the lake, and all sorts of lodging and vacation rentals. Guides are available to take you into the mountains by horseback or all terrain vehicle as well as to the tops of the glaciers. If dressed appropriately, you can hike through and walk along the top of the glaciers.

When planning a vacation to Argentina, remember that in the southern hemisphere the seasons are the opposite of those in the northern hemisphere. Mild summer temperatures and longer days are ideal for visiting Lago Argentino and the Southern Andes region. Winter travel is recommended for visits to the north and northwest parts of the country: tropical temperatures are a bit cooler and rains less frequent. Autumn and spring are perfect for a trip to Cuyo, Buenos Aires and the pre-mountain areas of La Rioja and Catamarca.

Whether you join a group tour or plan a vacation for yourself, it’s assured you’ll have a great time at Argentino Lake and Los Glaciares National Park. Rent a car, horse or boat and explore all that the area has to offer. From spectacular glaciers to mountain peaks, you’re sure to have a vacation filled with adventure, relaxation and fun.

Things to do at Argentino Lake

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • National Park

Fish species found at Argentino Lake

  • Lake Trout
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout

Argentino Lake Photo Gallery

Argentino Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 362,255 acres

Shoreline Length: 398 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 614 feet

Average Depth: 492 feet

Maximum Depth: 1,640 feet

Water Volume: 178,420,689 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 6,564 sq. miles

Trophic State: Ultraoligotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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