Gull Lake, Minnesota, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Central -

Also known as:  Brainerd Lakes

Gull Lake, located in the Central Region of Minnesota’s “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, boasts 9,418 surface acres and 38 miles of pristine shoreline. The deep, crystal clear waters of Gull Lake are part of the Brainerd Chain of Lakes. The lake was created in 1913 by construction of the Gull Lake Dam on the Gull River near the community of Nisswa, about an hour and a half north of St. Cloud. Nestled in a nature lover’s paradise surrounded by regal pine forest, visitors to Gull Lake will enjoy many recreational activities including nature watching, fishing, boating, and hiking.

Gull Lake is part of a chain of lakes including Upper Gull Lake, Nisswa Lake, Spring Lake, Love Lake, Round Lake, Bass Lake, Steamboat Bay, Wilson’s Bay, Roy Lake, Margaret Lake, and Spider Lake. Gull Lake Dam was constructed to control the waters of the ten lakes in the Gull Lake Chain. Gull Lake Dam was designed by Col. Francis R. Shunk and George Freeman who also designed Lock and Dam No. 1 on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. In the early 1900s, the basin which now holds the waters of Gull Lake provided water for navigation for loggers. Since construction of the dam, Gull Lake has provided flood control, wildlife preservation, and recreation.

The Gull Lake Dam site has 12 complete and several partial burial mounds from a prehistoric Woodland Culture that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. An interpretive center located near the dam provides information for visitors about the permanent established villages that were in the area in 800 B.C. to 200 A.D. as well as 600 A.D. to 900 A.D. Also of interest and eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places is the dam tender’s house. The seven-room house was completed in 1912 and is a good example of the brick, stucco, and frame Craftsman style of houses built in the towns and cities of Minnesota between 1905 and 1920.

Lakefront development on Gull Lake includes numerous resorts as well as residential properties for sale or for rent. Many of the resorts feature amenities such as spas, fitness rooms, indoor pools and restaurants. Gull Lake visitors who want a more rustic experience can enjoy picturesque camp settings. The Gull Lake Recreation Area located 10 miles northwest of Brainerd, Minnesota offers boating, swimming, interpretive hiking trails, hot showers, in addition to camping.

Whether visitors are enjoying a luxurious resort stay or a relaxing outdoor experience, they will share a common interest in nearby attractions. Golfers will enjoy over 520 holes of golf at 20 different golf courses. Three of the courses are championship courses. Hikers will enjoy the Paul Bunyan Trail which is mainly level and is wheelchair accessible. Once completed, it will consist of 110 miles. The developed portions of the Paul Bunyan Trail are opened hiking, in-line skating, and bicycling. In the winter the primary use for the trail is snowmobiling. Other places of interest are the Paul Bunyan Land, The Pioneer Village, Crow Wing County Historical Society and Museum, and the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site, all located nearby Gull Lake.

Fishing is most the most noted pastime on Gull Lake. Often referred to as one of the best fishing sites in the state of Minnesota, Gull Lake is plentiful in largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, panfish, and northern pike. Along the shores of Gull Lake boaters may spot white-tailed deer, eagles, otters, or even a moose. Whether visitors spend the day kayaking, canoeing, or just sunbathing on the beach, they will find that Gull Lake is the ideal vacation retreat.

Things to do at Gull Lake MN

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum

Fish species found at Gull Lake MN

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Walleye

Gull Lake MN Photo Gallery

Gull Lake MN Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 9,418 acres

Shoreline Length: 38 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,193 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,195 feet

Average Depth: 30 feet

Maximum Depth: 80 feet

Water Volume: 43,900 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1913

Drainage Area: 278 sq. miles

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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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