Lake Kissimmee, Florida, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Florida - East Central - West Central -

Lake Kissimmee’s massive 34,948 acre area earns the lake a spot as Florida’s third largest lake, finishing just behind Lake George and Lake Okeechobee. The Kissimmee Waterway consists of a chain of lakes including Lake Kissimmee. Boaters can enjoy the entire 56-mile long waterway starting at Lake Tohopekaliga in the north to Lake Okeechobee at the southern end. The route passes through Lake Kissimmee, then along the Kissimmee River made passable via man-made locks and canals. Lake Kissimmee’s immense size spans two counties, Osceola and Polk, and two tourism regions, East Central and West Central.

Prior to 1962, the Kissimmee River meandered over 103 miles that supported a rich ecosystem of fish and wildlife along floodplain wetlands. In an effort to control periodic river flooding, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers transformed the river into a straighter, 56-mile channel between 1962 and 1971. Although the channelization project achieved its flood protection goal, most of the wetlands wildlife habitat was eliminated. About 90 percent of the wading bird and wintering waterfowl populations disappeared.

In order to restore the delicate wetlands ecosystem, the Kissimmee River Restoration project is currently underway with a scheduled completion date of 2010. Jointly managed by the Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District, the project will restore about 43 miles of the river’s historic channel along the canal’s midsection. The goal is to restore more than 300 species of fish and wildlife to the wetland-rich floodplain. The upper and lower portions of the canal will remain intact to preserve flood protection.

Lake Kissimmee invites visitors to indulge in virtually any outdoor activity they could possibly imagine. Nature photographers, be at the ready: wildlife lovers enjoy the lake for its diverse animal life. White-tailed deer prance through the trees, spotted fawns trailing in their parents’ wake. Bald eagles swoop gracefully through the sky, scanning the ground from high above your head. Bobcats, a rare sight for many, tend to their young and stealthily hunt for their next meal. Sandhill cranes, reminiscent of the Great Blue Heron, choose their way carefully as they plod through the grass and forage for food in shallow waters. As you watch these animals, the peace and tranquility of Lake Kissimmee will surround you.

One of the best ways to see the lake’s flora and fauna, as well as some stunning scenic vistas, is to take a hike through Lake Kissimmee State Park’s 13 miles of hiking and nature trails. A trip on the trails will weave you through oak hammocks and pine flatwoods, giving you unique perspectives of the lake’s marshes, winding shores, and beautiful views. Hikers have their pick between a 1/2 mile self-guided nature tour, two loops trails, and another spur trail leading to the lake. And of those 13 miles, six are open to equestrians and their beloved friends, so that all may see the wonders of Lake Kissimmee.

Fishing is an ever-popular lake activity, offering some of the best fishing in Florida. Swimming beneath these waters are schools of bluegill, catfish, chain pickerel, crappie, and largemouth bass worthy of being your next angling boast. If you like to fish from a boat, you’ll be able to launch from within Lake Kissimmee State Park. If you don’t have a boat, no problem: the fish bite just as hard on the canal banks, in the marina, and by the dam.

On a lake as large and beautiful as Lake Kissimmee, there is no better way to enjoy its offerings than by boat. Power boaters delight in taking a speedboat out into the open waters to enjoy a strong breeze in their hair, the sun on their face, and the adrenaline that pumps through their veins as they speed along the lake. Canoeists and kayakers take it easy and paddle through the coves, enjoying a more personal bond with nature. And all boaters enjoy dipping their toes into the lake on a hot summer day, cooling off in the best way possible.

Lake Kissimmee is a year-round natural playground, offering its visitors a little bit of everything. Do yourself a favor, pack your bags, and head on down, whether it be for a short weekend or an extended stay. This trip is one you will never forget.

Things to do at Lake Kissimmee

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake Kissimmee

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Chain Pickerel
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Sunfish

Lake Kissimmee Photo Gallery

Lake Kissimmee Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Water Level Control: South Florida Water Management District

Surface Area: 34,948 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 51 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 49 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 53 feet

Average Depth: 5 feet

Maximum Depth: 20 feet

Water Volume: 339,200 acre-feet

Trophic State: Eutropic

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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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