Detroit Lake, Minnesota, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Northwest -

Minnesota’s Detroit Lake offers visitors an impressive number of things to do, both in and out of the water. The lake offers 3,067 acres of year-round enjoyment, including fishing, wind surfing, water skiing, jet skiing, snowmobiling, golfing, and wildlife viewing. Resorts, real estate, and private vacation rentals alongside the lake’s 12 miles of shoreline provide a place to stay while Detroit Lake provides the rest of the entertainment.

Detroit Lake is found in Becker County, Minnesota’s northwest tourism region, among towering trees and a steady growth of wildlife in the state parks surrounding the area. The lake has a maximum depth of 89 feet, as anglers probe the waters with fishing line in the early hours. Andrenaline-junkies are seen skittering across the lake’s surface atop wakeboards, water skis, or jet skis. However, Detroit Lake also offers quieter areas for the solitary kayaker and canoeist.

Pelican River flows from the north into Detroit Lake, exiting the lake at its western tip. The lake is connected to other bodies of water by way of Pelican River, which travels 80 miles before joining with other rivers to the north. A lock and dam system used to be in place near Detroit Lake to allow boat traffic, such as steamboats, through the river corridors in the late 1800s, but over the years the system fell into disrepair. Rock rapids are now used instead of locks and dams to maintain water levels and to allow fish to pass through the river corridors.

Not to be confused with Detroit Lake itself, the city of Detroit Lakes flourishes under a steady flow of tourism throughout the year. Visitors and locals stay busy with outdoor music festivals and family carnivals in the summer, while also bundling up in the winter to take part in ice fishing and curling (similar to shuffleboard on ice). Hundreds of lakes surround the Detroit Lakes area, each offering its own version of peaceful paradise.

Over a century ago, 100-pound sturgeon lurked beneath Detroit Lake’s depths, creating quite the battle when reeled in. Due to overfishing and a decline in water quality, these water giants declined steadily in numbers until an effort to reverse the effects was put into motion. Now, lake sturgeon have been reintroduced, though there are restrictions against harvesting the species until they are mature — approximately 15 to 25 years. Anglers today still find themselves reeling in other large fish species such as muskies measuring over 50 inches long and weighing over 30 pounds. Walleye, bluegill, largemouth bass, black crappie and northern pike have also been hooked by anglers.

Not far from Detroit Lake are a number of picturesque outdoor settings providing just the right environment for a day of solitude. Looking for camping? Head an hour northeast to hit Itasca State Park, with over 32,000 acres for pitching your tent underneath the stars. Only 25 minutes to the south of Detroit Lake is Maplewood State Park, where maple trees offer a dazzling sight during their autumnal metamorphosis. The park has horseback riding, mountain hiking and hiking trails in the warmer months, but keeps the activities moving in the winter with groomed snowmobiling trails.

For wildlife buffs, the call of the wild is as close as the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, a quick 18 miles northeast of Detroit Lake. Over 250 bird species avail themselves to curious eyes. Trumpeter swans, bald eagles and ruffed grouses are just a few avian species which can be seen. Larger wildlife found in the safety of the refuge include moose, black bears, porcupines, and the ever-alert timber wolves.

Exploring the city of Detroit Lakes is easy, since it is within walking distance of the northern portion of the lake. Playhouses and theaters offer cultural and historic entertainment during the day, making it simple to catch a bite to eat in one of the many diverse downtown restaurants. Or make a day of seeking out fiberglass sunfish, 50 of which were made by local artists and are scattered throughout the city.

Detroit Lake is never found lacking in quality entertainment. So, try your hand at something new this year, be it wind surfing, snowmobiling or camping out alone in the woods filled with wildlife.

Things to do at Detroit Lake MN

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Wind Surfing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Wildlife Refuge
  • State Park

Fish species found at Detroit Lake MN

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sturgeon
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

Detroit Lake MN Photo Gallery

    Detroit Lake MN Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

    Surface Area: 3,067 acres

    Shoreline Length: 12 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,334 feet

    Maximum Depth: 89 feet

    Trophic State: Eutrophic

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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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