Gun Lake, Michigan, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Michigan - Southwest -

Beautiful Gun Lake, located off US 131 north of Kalamazoo, Michigan, has been a vacation and boating destination for well over a hundred years. Originally five small natural lakes, 2,680-acre Gun Lake was formed when a dam was built across the Gun River in the late 1800s. Local farmers were enraged enough over the loss of their farmland that the dam was mysteriously blown up several times. Now, Gun Lake has settled peacefully into its well-deserved status as the largest lake in southwestern Michigan.

Originally, Gun Lake was the favored hunting and fishing territory of Ottawa, Pottawatomie and Chippewa Indians. One leader of the Ottawa Indians of Southern Michigan was powerful Chief Noonday who has roads named after him in the area. By the late 1800s, the lake was a haven for fishermen, and vacationers soon followed. In 1885, the Morrell family opened a small resort with a steamboat offering midnight cruises on Gun Lake. The Chicago elite would travel to Gun Lake for the summer, to enjoy both the fishing and boating on the clear waters. By 1895, as many as 5000 people would attend a five-day Farmers Picnic, with camping, music and square dancing on the lakeshore.

Wealthy families began to buy property and build lavish “cottages” along the shoreline. One of the most striking of these residences still stands, having been recently renovated as a noted resort. Michigan’s favorite villain, Al Capone, owned a home and guest cottage overlooking Gun Lake at one time. These buildings have been incorporated into yet another resort. Today, the shores of Gun Lake are the year-round homes to many residents and the summer destination of many more. Homes are available in every price range.

Many vacation rental arrangements are available both online and via local real estate firms around Gun Lake. For the camper crowd, both 5,200-acre Yankee Springs State Recreation Area and Barry County State Game Area abut the lake, providing over 300 camping spaces from rustic to modern cabins and day access activities. A horse camping area is provided for equestrians wishing to enjoy the many trails. Several hiking trails are available where one can enjoy the wetland ecosystem and upland woods and prairies. The public access areas encompass nine lakes within their boundaries.

Pleasure boating, including jet skiing and pontooning are favorite warm weather activities. Rentals of watercraft are available at local establishments, and many Gun Lake resorts provide pontoons or fishing boats. For those who bring their own boats, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provides two public access boat launch sites on the lake. The sandy bottom and shallow depths make the lake especially attractive for swimming, often from the two small islands, Orangeville and Yankee Springs.

During the summer months the Gun Lake Business Association provides free ride service on Friday and Saturday nights with the picturesque Gun Lake Trolley. It’s the perfect, no-hassle way to frequent local businesses and runs nearly the circumference of the lake.

Eight small inlets and the Gun River Dam outlet offer varied fishing experiences for the angler. Walleye, Northern Pike, Smallmouth Bass, Muskie, Bluegill, Crappie, Rock and Largemouth Bass are all found in Gun Lake waters. Three Walleye rearing ponds are located off the Hall Lake Inlet for state stocking purposes. Downstream, the Gun River is a designated trout stream over much of its length. More than one trophy fish has been wrestled from these waters.

Gun Lake doesn’t lose its appeal when temperatures drop. Autumn color tours allow visitors to savor some of the best fall color viewing. Winter brings ice fishing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and all winter sports.

For those wishing a bit of nightlife somewhat more lively than Gun Lake local businesses, the lake is
approximately 11 miles west of Hastings, 27 miles southeast of Grand Rapids, and 32 miles northeast of Kalamazoo. For the avid golfer, there are ten golf courses within a short drive.

One way to encourage the youngsters to look forward to their Gun Lake vacation is to pick up a copy of the seven books in the Gun Lake Adventure series for 9-12 yr olds. This paperback series by Johnnie Tuitel spins enjoyable mystery yarns around a differently-abled child who vacations at Gun Lake each summer. It’s a very upbeat and most enjoyable series for young readers.

Things to do at Gun Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Jet Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting

Fish species found at Gun Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Gun Lake Photo Gallery

Gun Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Barry County Drain Commissioner

Surface Area: 2,680 acres

Shoreline Length: 18 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 745 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 745 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 745 feet

Average Depth: 6 feet

Maximum Depth: 34 feet

Drainage Area: 30 sq. miles

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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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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