Lake Galena, Illinois, USA

Also known as:  Galena Lake, Galena Reservoir

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Lake Galena.

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Lake Galena visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - Illinois - Northern -

Tucked in a corner of the Northern Region of Illinois, Lake Galena presents one of the finest examples of a well-planned manmade lake. Galena Reservoir, as it is also known, was created when developers dammed Smallpox River with an eye toward building an exclusive residential complex. With foresight not commonly seen in housing developments, the resulting 225-acre Lake Galena was planned as a celebration of the water – and the woods and fields surrounding it. The shoreline is primarily set aside as greenway owned by the Galena Territory Association for all residents to enjoy. Nature trails and a riding stable urge residents to get outside and enjoy the woods, wildflowers and native wildlife. Residential lots are sprawling and the housing upscale. A private marina provides docking space for homeowner’s boats. A clubhouse offers all of the community amenities one would expect in such an exclusive development. The beautiful, crystal-clear lake acts as the focal point of the entire Galena Territory. As a crowning touch, an idyllic resort and spa complex sporting 63 holes of golf occupies a portion of the southern shore.

Smallpox Creek drains into the Mississippi River less than ten miles to the west. The completion of the dam created a lovely 40-foot waterfall at the outlet, much to the enjoyment of local residents. Although the water is 50 feet deep at the dam, most of the lake averages around 12 feet – perfect for a variety of fish. And fishing is the most favored activity at Galena Territory. Lake Galena boasts some of the best fishing in the area; the water holds an abundance of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, channel catfish, perch, bluegills, and tiger muskies. A fish cleaning station is provided. The Association works with State officials to assure optimum water quality and make sure fish are stocked regularly. There is no public access to the lake – it is reserved for property owners, their guests, and guests at the resort. To encourage a tranquil setting and reduce shoreline erosion, no boat motors are allowed over 10 horsepower. Neither water skiing nor jet skiing is permitted. Pontoons and fishing boats are available for rent at the marina; boats are limited to 17 feet and under. Canoeing and kayaking are enjoyed, as is sailing. Swimming is restricted to the outdoor swimming pools at the Owner’s Club Complex. Private docks are also prohibited, keeping the shoreline natural and inviting to a variety of waterfowl and birds such as eagles, owls, ospreys, blue herons, and wild turkeys.

The 6,800-acre Galena Territory contains over 1,500 acres of protected recreational land. The walking and hiking trails travel through wildflowers and woods as do the bridle paths. The natural areas are home to a variety of animals including white tail deer, beavers, coyotes, and fox. In winter, there are plenty of areas available for sledding and cross-country skiing. Ice fishing and ice skating are enjoyed on the lake. The Owners’ Club Complex includes meeting rooms, game room, video arcade, gymnasium, kids’ play equipment, banquet and party facilities, outdoor swimming pools, an activity center and tennis courts. A picnic area with grills, a badminton court, horseshoe pits and volley ball nets are available on the sandy beach. Organized activities for adults, children and families occur year-round and include such things as children’s art projects, field trips to historical sites in the surrounding area, and holiday parties. No one need ever be bored at Lake Galena.

The Galena Territory development takes its name from the historic city of Galena only five miles away. The historic city contains a variety of restored buildings and attractions dating to Galena’s founding as a lead mining capital. Most daily shopping and entertainment facilities can be found in Galena, with snowboarding, skiing and sleigh rides provided during the winter months. Many shops and art galleries make Galena a tourist mecca all year long. The annual Galena Triathlon and Duathlon draw hundreds of participants and spectators every summer. Only 20 miles from Lake Galena, the city of Dubuque, Iowa towers on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi. The oldest city in Iowa, founded in 1788, Dubuque sits at the junction of Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois with a history of river lore, early settlers, colleges and seminaries. Simply touring the many historic and restored buildings could take several days. One interesting attraction is the Fenelon Place elevator. Described as the world’s shortest, steepest scenic railway – 296 feet in length, the cable cars on rails elevate passengers 189 feet from Fourth Street to Fenelon Place. The ‘elevator’ was actually built for a wealthy banker in the mid-1800s who wished to avoid the slow ride home around the bluff for lunch. When visitors see the towering bluff, they quickly understand the sentiment.

Also at Dubuque, the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium holds a preserved sternwheeler which is available for cruises, demonstrations of early dredging equipment, aquariums featuring river species such as giant catfish and nature exhibits with otters, ducks, turtles, reptiles, frogs and other river-swelling species. Interactive exhibits explain the history of the Mississippi and its place in the life of those who settled along the river. From Dubuque, many historic areas across the river in Wisconsin are quickly reached, such as a Cornish miner’s colony at Pendarvis near Mineral Point or the Potosi Brewery National Brewery Museum established in 1852. All are within a 50-mile radius of Lake Galena.

Vacation rentals are sometimes available on Lake Galena, usually with a stunning view of the lake. Several private residences can be found with weekly or monthly lease. Bed-and breakfasts are available around Galena as are hotels and inns. The resort and spa have daily and weekly rentals with all the amenities of a high-end villa and is particularly attractive for the golfing family. Real estate is often offered with lake views in Galena Territory. A week here can provide all of the activities everyone in the family desires. So come enjoy the unique surroundings of Galena Lake. One week can easily become a lifetime – or a lifestyle.

Custom Lake Galena house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Lake Galena

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming Pool
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Snowboarding
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Galena

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Walleye

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Galena

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Lake Galena photo gallery

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Lake Galena statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Galena Territory Association

Surface Area: 225 acres

Shoreline Length: 7 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 710 feet

Average Depth: 12 feet

Maximum Depth: 50 feet

Completion Year: 1975

Drainage Area: 16 sq. miles

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