Lac Vieux Desert, Michigan & Wisconsin, USA

Also known as:  Lac Vieux Lake

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Lac Vieux Desert.

If you’re considering Lac Vieux Desert vacation rentals, we’ve made it super easy to explore accommodations and nearby hotels using the interactive map below. Simply click on a listing to compare similar properties, best rates and availability for your dates. Or keep scrolling to read our Lac Vieux Desert guide!

Lac Vieux Desert visitor and community guide

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.

Custom Lac Vieux Desert house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

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

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lac Vieux Desert

The Lac Vieux Desert map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

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Lac Vieux Desert photo gallery

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Lac Vieux Desert statistics & helpful links


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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