Lac Vieux Desert, Michigan & Wisconsin, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Michigan - Upper Peninsula - Wisconsin - Lake Superior Northwoods Region -

Also known as:  Lac Vieux Lake

Lac Vieux Desert is the French name for this 4,260-acre lake of Michigan and Wisconsin. The name was given by French fur trappers who were among the first Euro-Americans to settle the area. It is an ambiguous name and has been translated variably to mean “Lake of the Old Clearing,” “Lake of the Old Garden” or “Lake of the Old Desert.” The Native American people (Lac Vieux Desert Tribe of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians) – that have lived on the lake since at least 1791 – fished, hunted and gathered food from the land. They still propagate and harvest wild rice in the area to this day.

Lac Vieux Lake lies on the border of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin – most of it is in Wisconsin (2,860 acres, 1,400 acres in Michigan). You only need one fishing license for both sides but one daily bag limit applies for the whole lake. The lake has a few bays. Rice Bay, Indian Bay and Thunder Bay are of the most popular and are reportedly excellent for ice fishing when the lake freezes over in winter.

Lac Vieux Desert has a large population of muskellunge (musky or muskie) fish. (Musky season is closed during the winter). The lengthy freshwater fish is hard to catch and is considered a trophy fish among fishing competitors. The largest fish of the pike family, the musky loves clear water with many sheltered places of rest. Lac Vieux Desert has a lot of weedy areas, some rock masses, sandy bottoms and bottoms with a lot of muck. Other popular fish found in the lake are panfish, walleye and northern pike, rock bass, yellow perch, crappies, bluegills, and pumpkinseed sunfish. Lac Vieux Desert is very popular in fishing communities of Wisconsin and Michigan, so this makes it easy to find. You can ask anyone to point you in the right direction!

The structure of Lac Vieux Desert’s 19-mile shoreline varies. Pleistocene glacial movements (from approximately 10,000 to 25,000 years ago) are responsible for much of the present landform of the lake’s watershed. There are a lot of houses and resorts on the lake’s shoreline, but mostly wilderness, bogs, marshes and other wetlands abound. The lake is in the vicinity of the 1 million-acre Ottawa National Forest.

Lac Vieux Desert is fed from surrounding creeks and marshes and is the source of the legendary Wisconsin River that runs to join the Mississippi River which in turn flows into the Gulf of Mexico. A dam, operated by the Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company (WVIC), sits at the southwestern mouth of the Wisconsin River and produces hydroelectric energy. Since the late 1800s, the lake’s level has been regulated for hydroelectric power and logging.

The town of Watersmeet – an apt name for a place surrounded by so much water – is not very far north and is the gateway to some of the most diverse outdoor experiences available near the lake. There is a casino run by the Lac Vieux Desert Band in the town. Cross country and snowmobile trails are an attraction in the area. The intriguing Cisco Chain of Lakes is also in the neighborhood. There are abundant opportunities for hiking, camping, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, skiing, kayaking and canoeing – any outdoor activity you can think of. Visit one of the many beautiful waterfalls in the area. And don’t forget to stop at the Ketegitigaaning Ojibwe Nation Cultural/Historic Preservation and Museum that honors the traditions of the LVD tribe. Experience is just as rich south of the borderline in the lake country of Wisconsin.

Your options for lodging around Lac Vieux Lake are just as plenty as things to do! Don’t lose out. Book your trip for a few days or more to really take part in what the Lac Vieux Desert area has to offer.

Things to do at Lac Vieux Desert

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Waterfall
  • National Forest
  • Museum
  • Casino Gambling

Fish species found at Lac Vieux Desert

  • Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Cisco
  • Crappie
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Lac Vieux Desert Photo Gallery

    Lac Vieux Desert Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company

    Surface Area: 4,260 acres

    Shoreline Length: 19 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,683 feet

    Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

    Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,685 feet

    Maximum Depth: 40 feet

    Water Volume: 49,128 acre-feet

    Drainage Area: 34 sq. miles

    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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