Dunns Lake, Illinois, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Illinois - Chicagoland -

Also known as:  Fox Chain O'Lakes

If a vacation on the Fox River Chain of Lakes appeals to you, Dunns Lake in the Chicagoland Region is just the ticket. This small lake, reached via a short channel from Nippersink Lake, is just far enough from the main lakes to be reasonably quiet but close enough to that you won’t miss a thing. Compared to many of the lakes in the chain, Dunns Lake is small in area but big in accommodations: newer condos around the lake are often available as vacation rentals, making this a perfect spot to schedule a summer getaway.

The Fox River Chain of Lakes is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the Chicago area. The large lakes in the chain — Fox, Grass, Pistakee, Petite, Bluff, Marie, Channel, Catherine, Redhead, Nippersink and Spring Lakes — and several smaller lakes such as Dunns Lake, together with a 45-mile stretch of the Fox River, make up a recreational paradise only 45 miles from Chicago. Water level control on the entire Fox River Chain O’Lakes is controlled by a series of dams on the Fox River. The dams, under the control of the Illinois Division of Water Resources, maintain recreational water levels and control flooding.

Settlement began in the area soon after the region was opened up for homesteading in 1836. Farming was scattered and transportation difficult due to the many square miles of bogs and swamps. Early residents soon took advantage of the waters’ bounty, including waterfowl hunting, freshwater clamshell harvesting and arranging hunting and fishing parties for visitors from Chicago and Milwaukee. By the 1880s, many resort hotels catered both to genteel visitors and a rougher crowd of the less-than-lawful. The larger lakes around the Village of Fox Lake soon sported a variety of illegal gambling establishments, taverns and hotels. Although illegal, gambling profits from the casinos once provided so much revenue that local farmers weren’t required to pay taxes.

Periodic corruption clean-ups by Lake County officials resulted in several round-ups of slot machines and gaming equipment but were unsuccessful in stamping out the money-making enterprise. The advent of Prohibition hardly slowed down business at the many drinking establishments along the chain of lakes. Gangster Al Capone often visited the Mineola Hotel in Fox Lake, which still displays his hat in a glass case. Capone’s rival, George “Bugs” Moran, supplied booze to Lake County, according to news accounts from that time. In 1930, a year after the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago, five people were shot and three killed in a mob-related hit at the Manning Hotel in Fox Lake. The Fox Lake Massacre was the worst incident of Prohibition-era gang violence in Lake County. The crime was never solved.

A real estate development adjacent to Dunns Lake takes its name from another famous attraction on nearby Grass Lake. Lotus Woods is named for the vast field of American Lotus that nearly covered the shallow lake at one time. Enterprising Tour boat operators printed up thousands of picture postcards of the wide patches of “Egyptian Lotus” that had been “miraculously transported to Illinois by birds” to entice visitors to come and visit.

Modern visitors to Dunns Lake are a much more honest crowd. The chain of lakes gets thousands of visitors each year to water ski, sail, wakeboard, jet ski and pontoon. Dunns Lake doesn’t get the massive amount of boat traffic the larger lakes get, making it an ideal spot for swimming, sun-bathing, tubing, canoeing and kayaking. It’s the perfect home base from which to engage in the power-boating sports on the bigger lakes with an easy retreat in case of bad weather.

Fishing is a favorite activity both winter and summer on Dunns Lake and the other lakes in the chain. While small Dunns Lake is a good spot for panfish, other areas in the chain offer up yellow perch, walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, largemouth bass, bluegill, white and black crappie, white and yellow bass and channel catfish. The chain of of lakes is a favorite among waterfowl hunters who must follow Fox Waterway Agency rules for permitting of blinds. Dove, waterfowl, archery deer and permit pheasant hunting are available at Chain O’Lakes State Park nearby.

Off the water, many local venues provide unique opportunities for birding, wildlife watching and the observation of wetland plants near Dunns Lake. At Chain O Lakes State Park, two hundred acres of restored native prairie provide nesting habitat for grassland bird species. White-tailed deer, rabbits, ground squirrels, chipmunks, mink, opossum, skunks, raccoons, gophers, fox, badgers, beaver, coyotes, and groundhogs roam the park. A check-list of the nearly 200 birds that have been identified in the park is available at the park office. The trails are available for hiking, cross-country skiing and horseback riding. Eighty-acre Turner Lake Nature Preserve supports a variety of plants in a unique bog environment; the remaining beds of American Lotus on Grass Lake are breathtaking when in bloom.

Dunns Lake visitors with an interest in wetland ecology will enjoy the two bog preservation areas southeast of Lake Pistakee. The Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve and adjacent Volo Bog State Nature Area provide excellent opportunities to observe bog plants such as the rose pogonia and grass pink. These native orchids grow only in bog areas under ideal conditions. The Volo Bog contains Illinois’ only quaking bog with an open-water center. Interpretive trails and exhibits acquaint visitors with the delicate ecology of the wetland bog.

The villages of Fox Lake and Ingleside provide visitors with groceries, ice, charcoal and beverages. The larger lakes offer marinas and water craft rentals. In Fox Lake, one can take in a movie on a rainy afternoon or indulge in dinner in a hundred-year-old resort hotel with ambiance of a 1920s speakeasy. Numerous nightlife establishments located around the larger lakes can be accessed by boat. Chicago is only 45 miles away by Metro rail. Milwaukee is 60 miles by highway.

Finding vacation lodgings at Dunns Lake is as easy as renting a condo, private residence or hotel room. Vacation rentals are commonly found among the summer cottages either on the lakefront or with lake views. Many provide watercraft along with the rental or you can bring your own. And real estate available in the immediate area means you can claim a permanent spot on Dunns Lake. Come and spend a weekend or an entire vacation enjoying the water sports around the Chain of Lakes. You may decide to make it your forever home.

Things to do at Dunns Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Casino Gambling

Fish species found at Dunns Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Bass
  • Yellow Perch

Dunns Lake Photo Gallery

    Dunns Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Illinois Dept. of Transportation-Division of Water Resources

    Surface Area: 68 acres

    Shoreline Length: 3 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 737 feet

    Average Depth: 6 feet

    Maximum Depth: 20 feet

    Water Volume: 342 acre-feet

    Trophic State: Hypereutrophic

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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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