Lake Independence, Michigan, USA

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

If you’re considering Lake Independence 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 Lake Independence guide!

Lake Independence visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - Michigan - Upper Peninsula -

Tucked up against Lake Superior, 1,860-acre Lake Independence is an exceptional recreation destination on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Fed primarily by the Yellow Dog River, Lake Independence is a natural lake made larger by construction of a dam on its main outflow, the Iron River. The Iron River continues slightly over a mile before emptying into Lake Superior. The fish-filled waters of Lake Independence combine with the rich maritime history of the Great Lakes to form a perfect place to live, work and play.

Lake Independence and the surrounding area were originally known as Yellow Dog Swamp. The Ojibway called it “sosawagamee” or “yellow water.” Approximately 3,500 acres of swampy land stretched across the mouth of the Yellow Dog River. In the early 1930’s, construction of the Lake Independence Dam raised water levels creating Lake Independence. With a maximum depth of 30 feet, it is still a fairly shallow lake. The swamp area was reduced to approximately 1,600 acres most of which is owned by the State of Michigan. Efforts have been made to establish watershed preserves on some of the privately held land.

The lake has more than enough water for swimming, boating, waterskiing and fishing. Lake Independence’s flooded weedy nature provides ample fish habitat and anglers can challenge themselves against the lake’s black crappie, bluegill, small mouth bass and brown trout. Abundant populations of cisco, northern pike, rock bass, yellow perch and walleye also live in the lake.

Originally built to generate power, Lake Independence Dam is in Powell Township in Marquette County. It is no longer used for hydroelectric power, but water levels are maintained by the Marquette County Drain Commission to preserve lakefront property values. The county of Marquette also maintains a park on the western shore of the lake. Perkins Park has a campground with RV and tent sites as well as a picnic area. Cabins, homes and vacation rentals are scattered along the shore of the lake, and there is real estate available for sale. Established in 1904, the Town of Big Bay sits along the northwest corner of Lake Independence and has any amenity a visitor might need.

In the spring, the gentle blooming colors of wildflowers blanket the countryside around Big Bay, and forest trails turn green. Summer is dedicated to playing on the water of Lake Independence with swimming, boating and fishing. Nearby, Lake Superior significantly expands the water recreation opportunities. Big Bay Point Lighthouse is open for tours, and the Marquette Lighthouse is operated by the Marquette Maritime Museum, both of which provide the perfect Great Lakes backdrop. Falls colors burn fiery oranges, reds and golds with miles of trails for hiking and biking through the changing colors of the leaves. Just a few miles from Big Bay, hiking the walking trail to Yellow Dog Falls is a beautiful way to spend a fall day. In the winter, there are trails in the area around Lake Independence for snowmobiling, cross country skiing and even dog sledding.

Lake Independence is a year round destination with access to all the recreation opportunities of Lake Superior and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Almost two thousand acres of water for swimming, boating, and fishing will make it a favorite for the entire family and a destination to return to over and over again.

Custom Lake Independence house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Lake Independence

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Dog Sledding
  • Museum

Fish species found at Lake Independence

  • Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Brown Trout
  • Cisco
  • Crappie
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Independence

The Lake Independence 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.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Lake Independence photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Lake Independence statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Marquette County Drain Commission

Surface Area: 1,860 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 625 feet

Maximum Depth: 30 feet

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

Advertise your Lake Independence vacation rental

LakeLubbers will soon offer homeowners and property managers the opportunity to to showcase their vacation rentals to the thousands of lake lovers searching our site daily for accommodations. If you’d like additional details, please contact our advertising team here.


Looking for the Lake Independence forum?

LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here.

We also encourage you to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook and Instagram!

Spread the word! Share our Lake Independence article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!