Lake of Egypt, Illinois, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Illinois - Southern -

She settles herself into the kayak and pushes away from the shore. The small boat cuts through the fog rising from the surface of the lake, and she turns gliding deeper into the cove. Behind her on the main body of Lake of Egypt she can hear the motor boats purring to life. Soon water skiers and jet skis will zip across the lake, but here in her cove she is almost alone, the surface of the lake broken only by her paddle and the cast of an occasional fishing rod. The name conjures images of desserts. The beautiful water of Lake of Egypt in southern Illinois, however, has become her own personal oasis and a place to return to again and again.

Lake of Egypt or Lake Egypt as it is also known is an impoundment of the south fork of the Saline River. The reservoir was created in 1962 with the construction of the Lake of Egypt Dam by the Southern Illinois Power Cooperative (SIPC). Lake Egypt supplies cooling water for SIPC’s coal-burning electric plant.

The southern region of Illinois is also known as “Little Egypt.” There are several theories as to how it got its nickname. Some believe it is because the land where the Ohio River meets the Mississippi River is similar to the Nile Delta. In fact in 1818 a group of developers bought a tract of land at the southern tip of Illinois and named it Cairo. Today, the town of the same name still sits at the confluence of Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Others think “Little Egypt” got its name because of a poor harvest in the north in the 1830’s that forced people south to buy grain. Regardless of how it came by the name, “Little Egypt” inspired Lake of Egypt’s name.

Lake of Egypt is surrounded by residential development with several public access points including a boat ramp at the Shawnee National Forest campground on the shore of the lake. The Shawnee National Forest spans across parts of southern Illinois and includes trails for hiking and horseback riding along with places to hunt and rock climb. In addition to the national forest ramp, there are several marinas around Lake Egypt, and boats of all sizes are allowed on the lake. With 2,300 acres of water there is plenty of room for water skis, jet skis and boats. Lake of Egypt also has many coves and quiet fingers to explore by canoe or kayak. The lake is full of fish, and anglers will find abundant populations of bluegill, crappie, channel catfish, striped bass and largemouth bass to challenge them.

Six miles south of Marion and eight miles north of Vienna, Lake of Egypt has easy access to any amenities a visitor might want. There are lakefront vacation rentals around the lake as well as real estate for sale for anyone wishing to extend their stay. With shopping, restaurants, and golf nearby, there is something for everyone. Ferne Clyffe State Park is a short drive from the lake and a fantastic day trip. It was named Ferne Clyffe in 1899 by two brothers who bought what is now part of the state park. They sold the fern laden land to Miss Emma Rebman who opened Ferne Clyffe to visitors on Sundays. In 1949 the state bought the land and opened the state park. Today the state park includes 2,430 acres of ferns, woodland and interesting rock formations. There are trails for hiking and horseback riding, and areas set aside for hunting quail, rabbit and deer in season.

With its state parks, national forests and beautiful lakes, the southern region of Illinois is an inspiring backdrop to a Lake of Egypt getaway. “Little Egypt” has big recreation opportunities, and Lake of Egypt is sure to draw visitors back time and time again.

Things to do at Lake of Egypt

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • National Forest
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake of Egypt

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish

Lake of Egypt Photo Gallery

    Lake of Egypt Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Southern Illinois Power Cooperative

    Surface Area: 2,300 acres

    Shoreline Length: 93 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 500 feet

    Average Depth: 18 feet

    Maximum Depth: 52 feet

    Completion Year: 1962

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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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