Lake Bemidji, Minnesota, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Northwest -

Also known as:  Bemidji Lake

A cornucopia of soothing sound, rejuvenating sights and the invigorating scents of nature at work, Lake Bemidji is one of Minnesota’s natural gems. A destination in any season, the lake area offers snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in Minnesota’s snowy winters. Spring comes with an announcement of blooms, particularly in the area’s tamarack bog. Lady’s slippers, pitcher plants, dragon’s mouth, orchids, grass pink and insect-eating sundews spiral upward to greet the curious hiker. Summer is the season when fun knows no end. Swimming, boating, fishing, bird watching, hiking, camping, biking and picnicking are all available at the Lake Bemidji State Park at the upper end of the lake. And who can miss out on a Minnesotan fall, when trees shed brilliant red-and-gold glories in preparation for the winter slumber.

Lake Bemidji State Park is a result of Minnesota’s last glacial age. It is a rolling landscape of swamps and bogs highlighted by the deep and clear Lake Bemidji which sprawls over 6,000 acres. The Mississippi River cutting diagonally through the lake earned a name from the Anishinabe people – “Bemidjigamaag” – which simply means “lake with crosswaters.” Although Bemidji Lake is natural, its waters were harnessed for hydropower in the early 1900s with construction of a dam on the Otter River. Today, the Otter Tail Power Company operates two hydro units that originally went into operation in 1907.

Lake Bemidji’s ecosystem is a fertile one found in Minnesota’s Northwest region where the prairie grasses merge into the North Woods. Deer, porcupine, squirrels, chipmunks and black bear habituate Bemidji’s wilderness. The sounds of frogs, owl, woodpeckers, warbling vireos, and the haunting call of loons engross visitors in the world of the wild. Ospreys, herons and eagles can be seen on the lake and are some bird watching favorites to look out for.

At the park, the year is full of inviting programs that range from boating and hiking tours, evening films, campfire talks, candlelight skiing. Winter offers opportunities to learn about winter wildlife, animal tracking and what life is like under the ice. The Visitors Center often features exhibits about the animals and geology of the area.

Take to the water with your fishing gear. Lake Bemidji is a great fishery for walleye, muskie, northern pike and perch, so don’t be surprised if you catch a trophy size.

The Bemidji area, at the headwaters of the great Mississippi River, is a perfect place to get away. Its wildly beautiful nature scenes will invigorate your senses. Although relatively far from any major metropolitan area, there are still many things to do. The city of Bemidji, situated on the southwestern shore of Bemidji Lake, offers many lively cultural and entertainment opportunities. Take a walk on the Bemidji Sculpture Walk made up of sculptures, murals and art galleries in the historical downtown area. Be sure to check out an unforgettable play at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse or take a seat at the Wild Rose Theater, a theatre dedicated to themes about women. Enjoy scheduled folk music performances in various coffee shops and restaurants or take in the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra.

Covered wagon rides, sleigh rides, a visit to a traditional woollen mill, berry picking on a charming farm or trip to a pow-wow will bring magic to your Lake Bemidji experience. Real estate options abound in the area; for such a beautiful and dynamic part of Minnesota, you might want to relocate. Vacation rentals range from large family homes to rustic cabins and are definitely worth the while. Imagine spending a perfect winter, summer, fall or spring with so much beauty, adventure and a world of learning at your fingertips. Immerse yourself in all that Lake Bemidji has to offer and don’t forget to take that special walk down the boardwalk into the bog where you witness the unique genius of nature and refresh your spirit.

Things to do at Lake Bemidji

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park

Fish species found at Lake Bemidji

  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Walleye

Lake Bemidji Photo Gallery

Lake Bemidji Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Otter Tail Power Company

Surface Area: 6,420 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,342 feet

Maximum Depth: 76 feet

Water Volume: 2,500 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1907

Drainage Area: 619 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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