Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Wisconsin - Southern Savanna Region -

Also known as:  Geneva Lake

A laid-back atmosphere mixed with amazing activities make astoundingly beautiful Lake Geneva one of the most perfect relaxation and recreation destinations in Wisconsin. Lake Geneva is located in southeastern Wisconsin’s Walworth County within easy driving distance of Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago. The lake is often referred to as the “Newport of the West” because it has been a popular resort community for more than 150 years.

The myriad of attractions at this large Wisconsin lake are suitable for all age groups. They include the beaches at Library Park, Big Foot State Park, golfing at over 20 splendid area golf courses, water skiing and jet skiing. Visitors and residents enjoy canoeing, fishing, boating, hiking at the Pottawatomie Trail, and swimming at one of several beaches along the seven-mile long lake. Other one-of-a-kind opportunities include lake cruises, horseback riding, exceptional specialty shops, galleries, spectacular festivals and fairs. The Lake Geneva shoreline is dotted with homes and buildings from earlier times which represent the frontier, pioneering and later periods. The quaint town and its yesteryear homes and buildings are breathtakingly beautiful.

Thousands of years ago, the final glaciers retreated north after having gorged out and depressed the Geneva lake basin leaving rolling gravel hills. The geological formation of Lake Geneva began with the melt-off of a glacial lobe known as the “Troy Valley”. The cascading water from the Troy Valley’s outlet formed connecting channels creating three lakes, one of which is Lake Geneva.

The Oneota Tribes of the lost Hopewell Culture Indians inhabited the area. They built effigy mounds in what is now Library Park. Soon migrating forest tribes, known to be great hunters and fierce warriors, drove out the earlier inhabitants. The lake was discovered in 1831 by an Army party under the command of Major John Kinzie. Treaty arrangements in 1833 evicted Chief Big Foot and the Potawatomi Tribe.

John Brink, a government surveyor, began mapping the area in 1834 and named it after the lake in his home town of Geneva, New York. Immigrant settlers from New England and New York flooded into Lake Geneva attracted by the number of gristmills and sawmills and later, flouring and wool carding mills. Many other enterprises developed including furniture, wagon and typewriter manufacturers. After the Civil War, the lake town became a resort for wealthy Chicago families. These families constructed enormous, elegant mansions on the lake. By the beginning of the 20th century, the area’s magnificent vistas and easy access via railroad lured Victorian-era millionaires. Soon the town became well known among its residents and people from afar as “The Hamptons of the Midwest” and “The Newport of the West”.

Lake Geneva remained in a natural state until settlers constructed a dam on the eastern end of the lake at the White River outlet in 1836. Beginning in 1897, the Lake Level Corporation Inc. controlled and maintained the lake level. In 2003, the dam was reconstructed with the cooperative efforts of the communities surrounding the lake.

With a population of more than 7,500 residents, Lake Geneva offers a great assortment of relaxation and recreational activities. Swimming, boating, jet skiing, canoeing, and kayaking are popular pastimes. If you choose not to bring your own boat or rent a watercraft, narrated boat tours offer up-close views of striking lakefront summer mansions, including several Victorian estates. The cruises will enlighten and delight you with the history of the mansions. Available sight seeing tours include the famous US Mailboat Tour, Geneva Bay Mansions Tour, Full Lake Mansions Tours and the famous Ice Cream Social Tour. Whether you choose a restored historic yacht or a replica of a paddle wheel steamer, the cruises provide a unique opportunity to see one of the most fabulous residential locations in the country.

Remember your most comfortable walking shoes to explore the 21-mile Geneva Lake shoreline, and bring a camera for snapshots of the gorgeous surroundings. The Lake Geneva Shore Path is divided into seven segments, each offering views of the landscaped estates dotting the shoreline. Landlubbers can take hikes around the perimeter of the lake, walking through the backyards of opulent century-old mansions and some of the most beautiful landscaping in the west. There are plenty of fun activities including museums, a water park for kids, the Belfry Music Theater, or greyhound racing. Yerkes Observatory is home to the world’s largest refracting telescope. The telescope is inside a 90-foot dome, and the 73-foot wooden floor surrounding the telescope is actually an elevator that raises star gazers to the eyepiece for an eyeful of the Milky Way. The East Troy Electric Railroad runs the rails through October, offering extraordinary scenic rides through Southeast Wisconsin’s beautiful Kettle Moraine State Forest. Take a step back in time at Old World Wisconsin — America’s largest rural outdoor living history museum. For an exciting bird’s eye view of Geneva, opt for an unforgettable parasail ride. Experience the thrill of flying like an eagle and floating like a butterfly while viewing the Lake Geneva area from the air.

The quiet winters are also filled with fun and excitement. The city of Lake Geneva is host to the United States Nationals Snow Sculpting Competition. The lake is also a popular ski spot with close to 20 ski trails to choose from. Other activity choices include horseback riding, ice skating, ice boating, sleigh rides and even hayrides.

Every season brings outstanding fishing for anglers of all ages to enjoy. The serenity and beauty of the many mansions lining the shore enhance the experience. There are abundant amounts of walleye, bluegills, brown trout, northern pike, lake trout, brown and white bass, rainbow trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappies, bluegills and perch. The lake also offers exciting night fishing opportunities. Walleye, lake trout and northern pike have outstanding growth rates. Lake Geneva has produced many trophy walleyes over 10 pounds, Northern pike up to 30 pounds, and trout exceeding 15 pounds. The smallmouth bass population is excellent, making Lake Geneva the premier Southern Wisconsin Smallmouth Lake. Largemouth bass have been increasing in record numbers with an average size of 2 to 3 pounds, and 5 pound bass are also common. Fishing is certainly an exhilarating experience at Lake Geneva.

Lunch and dinner options are plentiful in the Lake Geneva area with choices ranging from pizza to paprikash at some of the best restaurants in the state. Enjoy your meals outside as sunsets can be magical as the sun disappears behind the shimmering lake.

So, take a long, deep breath as you enter this charming, year-round resort town, home of one of the most beautiful lakes in Wisconsin. It continues to delight visitors and residents with its magnificence while offering an unforgettably relaxing yet fun-filled atmosphere with rolling hills and spectacularly sparkling clear water. It truly is an exceptional treasure waiting to be explored and enjoyed.

Things to do at Lake Geneva WI

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Parasailing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • State Forest
  • Museum

Fish species found at Lake Geneva WI

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Brown Trout
  • Crappie
  • Lake Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • White Bass

Lake Geneva WI Photo Gallery

Lake Geneva WI Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Lake Level Corporation Inc.

Surface Area: 5,262 acres

Shoreline Length: 21 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 879 feet

Average Depth: 63 feet

Maximum Depth: 144 feet

Water Volume: 299,182 acre-feet

Completion Year: 2003

Lake Area-Population: 7,569

Drainage Area: 29 sq. miles

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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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