Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Wisconsin - Lake Michigan Region -

Elkhart Lake is one of the heartland’s oldest resort lakes. Ideally situated just one hour from Milwaukee and two and a half hours from Chicago, the lake lies in the heart of Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine State Forest. The 292-acre lake is spring-fed and one of the deepest lakes in Wisconsin. Situated in Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan tourism region, Elkhart Lake has been a sought-after summer location since at least 1860.

Settled by German farmers in the early 1800s, Elkhart Lake got its name from the government surveyor who thought the lake’s shape resembled an Elk’s Heart. Summer visitors started to arrive in the 1850s, and the locals soon realized it was more profitable to act as landlords to visitors than to farm the thin soils of the kettle moraine.

By 1872 when the railroad finally came through town, people started to arrive from Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis and the southern states. The resorts around Elkhart Lake were famous for bathing and sailing during the day and gambling at night. Renown German actors and actresses gave performances at the Opera House in the village. At one point, Elkhart Lake contained 446 hotel rooms and 175 rooms for boarders in private homes. Those days of famous lakefront resorts slowly evolved into the Elkhart Lake of today.

Some old resorts, updated, still exist on the shores of Elkhart Lake. There are some year-round residents but many are summer homes only. Condos and resort development is increasing. The lake is still popular for sailing: Sundays are a no-wake day to give non-motorized watercraft control of the lake. The local sailing club holds races each Sunday.

Elkhart lake is an extremely clear and clean lake, ideal for swimming and kayaking. Fishermen enjoy catching Bluegill, Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Largemouth Bass, Muskellunge, Northern Pike, Rainbow Trout and Smallmouth Bass. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) maintains a public boat launch for the convenience of the public, and there is a public swimming beach. Ice fishing is a popular winter sport as are snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.

The Elkhart Lake Improvement Association maintains cooperative water monitoring and boating information, along with helping to assure reasonable regulation keeps the lake accessible and safe for all. All water sports and lessons are available, including waterski/wakeboard school, tubing. pontoon boats, bumper boats, sailboats and sailing lessons, fishing boats, guided fishing trips, paddle boats, paddle bikes, hydro-bikes and kayaks.

Established resorts along the lake provide unique vacation options including one with both a French culinary school and spa stays. Another is a refurbished Victorian-era resort hotel with fabulous views, cool breezes and nostalgic surroundings with modern comfort.There is live music every weekend at several local establishments. One event every year is an Olympic Distance Triathlon: 1.5K swim, 45K bike, 10K run. This is heavily attended and becomes more popular every year.

In 1955, Road America opened with world-famous road-course racing, specialized racing events, driving classes and geocaching. This attraction brings an entirely different group of fans to Elkhart Lake.

The Village of Elkhart Lake is a quaint little town that caters to lake visitors. There is a farmer’s and artisan’s market every Saturday, local museums such as Henschel’s Museum of Indian History, and small theaters to enjoy. Local golf courses provide relaxation for the golfers in the family.

Nearby Sheboygan has several historical and natural history museums, including a children’s museum. Activities and exhibits along the Lake Michigan shore will suit the Great Lakes aficionado to a tee.

Whether you wish to visit for a weekend, a week or a summer, there are lodging accommodations to suit your desires and budget. For those wishing to buy, condos on the lakefront often have vacancies. There is something for everyone on Elkhart Lake.

Things to do at Elkhart Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Forest
  • Museum

Fish species found at Elkhart Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Brook Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Pike
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

Elkhart Lake Photo Gallery

    Elkhart Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Town of Elkhart Lake

    Surface Area: 292 acres

    Shoreline Length: 4 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 909 feet

    Average Depth: 46 feet

    Maximum Depth: 119 feet

    Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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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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