Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro -

Lake Minnetonka’s 14,000 acres contain many bays and coves, resembling a collection of smaller lakes. “Minnetonka” comes from the Sioux language meaning “big waters.” Many Native Americans, including the Dakota, Sioux, Ojibwa, Cheyenne, and Iowa tribes, lived in the Minnetonka area in previous centuries. In fact, the area around the lake was considered sacred by the Native Americans and was used as a burial ground. Some of the burial mounds are still visible today – this is how the town of Mound got its name!

Lake Minnetonka has a long history as a popular resort destination. In the 1800’s, railroads transported passengers from far away to enjoy the pleasures of the lake. Steamships were built that carried tourists around the lake. One of these steamships, “City of St. Louis,” was the first inland steamship to have electric lights.

In the 1900’s, Twin City Rapid Transit brought streetcars to the Minnetonka area. They also made boats, modeled after streetcars, to ferry people to and from destinations on the lake, including an amusement park on Big Island. Though all of these boats were eventually destroyed, one of them, the Minnehaha, has been restored and is in use today.

The lake has been well-known for many years and has been mentioned many times in history. Thurlow Lieurance wrote a song, “By the Waters of Minnetonka,” based on a Native American legend. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem, “The Song of Hiawatha,” refers to landmarks in the Minnetonka area. And, of course, the beautiful lake was a prized spot for summer homes among many wealthy and famous people, including President Taft. Sioux legend tells of an ill-fated love between Moon Deer, a daughter of the Moon Clan, and Sun Deer of the Sun Clan. Because tribal law forbade marriage between the two clans, the lovers ran away to Lake Minnetonka, only to encounter the Chippewa, enemies of the Sioux. Fearing both the Chippewa and a return home, they took their own lives, disappearing between the waves. Many moons later when the Sioux drove the Chippewa from the shores of Lake Minnetonka, they heard a strange melody emanating from the waters. The spirits of Moon Deer and Sun Deer appeared as two lilies that grew to the sky in the light of the moon. The lovers’ song can still be heard today in the rhythmic sounds of the waves and in the pines along the shore.

Today, Lake Minnetonka is still a popular place to vacation. No matter what your interests, you’re sure to find something to please at the lake and in the surrounding region. For anglers, Lake Minnetonka is a paradise. The lake is a popular fishing area, with many tournaments being held there each year, and it is known for having large fish, especially muskies. Other fish species in the lake include largemouth bass, northern pike, and walleye.

Of course, if you don’t care to go fishing, there are still plenty of other fun activities. You can zip around on a jet ski, cruise the lake on a pontoon boat, or experience the fun of sailing. Or, take a ride on the restored antique steamboat, the Minnehaha.

One fantastic place to visit is the Lake Minnetonka Regional Park, especially if you have children. The park holds many attractions, and has something for everyone in the family!.You can cast a fishing line off the pier, cool off in the swimming pond, launch your boat at the boat ramp, or walk or bike along the trails. Kids will love the amazing play area, a 20,000-square-foot area with slides, climbing nets, and other fun equipment.

The towns surrounding Lake Minnetonka hold many other attractions for any activity that you’re in the mood for. Take in a show at a local cinema or playhouse, or browse the charming shops and stores, looking for the perfect souvenirs. Get some exercise on one of the hiking trails, or enjoy a fun ride on one of the trolleys in Wayzata or Excelsior. Explore the Minnesota Transportation Museum, or stroll among the beautiful flowers in the historic Noerenberg Gardens.

This beautiful lake and the surrounding region will keep you fascinated with its many wonders and attractions. Try it out; you’ll be glad you did!

Things to do at Lake Minnetonka

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Jet Skiing
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Museum
  • Amusement Park
  • Movie Theater
  • Antiquing

Fish species found at Lake Minnetonka

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Walleye

Lake Minnetonka Photo Gallery

Lake Minnetonka Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Minnehaha Creek Watershed District

Surface Area: 14,043 acres

Shoreline Length: 110 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 929 feet

Average Depth: 30 feet

Maximum Depth: 113 feet

Water Volume: 400,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1979

Drainage Area: 181 sq. miles

At LakeLubbers.com, we strive to keep our information as accurate and up-to-date as possible, but if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you!
Please let us know about it on our Content Correction form.

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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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