Lake of the Woods, Minnesota USA & Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - Manitoba - Ontario - USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Northwest -

Spanning the border from Minnesota into the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, Lake of the Woods is an enormous body of water over 68 miles long, 59 miles wide, with 25,000 miles of shoreline – the world’s longest lake shoreline. The western part of the lake is mostly open water, while the eastern part is dotted with more than 14,500 islands inhabited by bear, moose, bald eagles, and other wildlife. The shoreline of Lake of the Woods increases to 65,000 miles with inclusion of its mind-boggling number of islands. About one-third of the lake’s 950,400 acres are in Minnesota.

Part of Minnesota’s land portion of Lake of the Woods, known as the Northwest Angle, is separated from the rest of the United States due to landmark treaties dating back to 1783 when Great Britain recognized American independence. The Northwest Angle is the northernmost land in the contiguous United States. It can be reached by boat from Minnesota or by traveling over Canadian land. Subsequent treaties to shape the U.S.-Canada boundary kept the Northwest Angle in Minnesota.

The largest tributary to Lake of the Woods is the Rainy River. Water exits the lake through the Winnipeg River and eventually makes its way to the Hudson Bay. Because the lake is in international body of water, water levels are regulated by the International Lake of the Woods Control Board, which is part of the International Joint Commission. The United States and Canada signed a treaty in 1925, known as the Lake of the Woods Convention and Protocol, that established elevation and discharge requirements.

A glacial lake remnant, Lake of the Woods has been around for thousands of years, though modern human contact was initiated in 1688. Jacques De Noyon, an explorer from Quebec, was the first white man to set sight on this beautiful lake. After his arrival, there are no further recorded expeditions before 1732, when Pierre La Verendrye and 50 of his men came to the lake. At that time, the northern Minnesota portion was populated by Assiniboine, Cree, Monsonis, and Sioux Native American tribes. Two islands are named for the unfortunate ensuing event: caught in the middle of tribal warfare, twenty of the La Verendrye party were killed. The islands are both called Massacre Island. Over the years, Lake of the Woods continued to build in popularity until October 4, 1910, when a forest fire burned through northern Minnesota and took the lives of 43 people. After their deaths, another population boom hit the lake, and people claimed every inch of land they could. Since that time, the Lake of the Woods has experienced considerable growth and a spike in tourism.

Lake of the Woods is so large that it is necessary to pick a part of the lake and stick to it. Everyone’s a winner here, though, and the lake offers myriad outdoor activities for nature lovers. Begin your trip with a hike on one of the lake’s nature trails, the shoreline is riddled with meandering paths, challenging terrain, and manicured trails designed to provide you awesome views and breathtaking vistas. Wind your way through acres of wildflowers, pick berries, and watch as bald eagles swoop above your head, pelicans dive for their next meal, and pileated woodpeckers knock on wood all around you. Bear, deer, moose, and timber wolves make their homes in nearby forests, and if you watch the lakeside quietly and carefully, you’ll see beaver, mink, and otter frolicking in the waters and catching their next meal. Cameras are an absolute must, as the views you are afforded are once-in-a-lifetime.

The lake is home to many beaches, so perhaps the best way to start a day on the water is with your toes in the sand and the sun on your face. After a warm sun bath, make a choice between jumping into the cool, refreshing lake waters or taking a boat out to enjoy the lake’s secluded coves. Canoes and kayaks dot the surface, their passengers intent on catching a glimpse of bathing water birds and aquatic animals. Powerboats are another popular option, and during the summer months, water-skiers and tubes can be found tied behind the powerful engines.

Fishing is a perennial favorite, and the superb walleye fishing has earned Lake of the Woods the moniker “Walleye Capital of the World”. Other fish in abundance are northern pike, sauger, smallmouth bass, lake sturgeon, crappie, perch, and muskie. Many records, both official and personal, have been set here, though a day out on Lake of the Woods is more than just the daily catch. Become one with nature as you bait and cast, enjoying the blue waters and blue skies that stretch for miles.

In the winter, Lake of the Woods takes on a life of its own and becomes a premier winter playground, offering ice fishing, snowmobiling, snow shoeing, cross-country skiing, and plenty of snow for snowman building and snowball fights. Cross-country ski your way across miles of deserted, tranquil trail, or try your hand at some fast-paced snowmobiling to cover more terrain. If the family is involved, try your luck with snow shoeing, an old-fashioned pastime that’s regaining footing.

After a long, cold day out in the snow, nothing will feel better than a mug of hot cocoa in front of the fire and a lake view out your window. Such are vacations at Lake of the Woods – quiet, yet action-packed, tranquil, but full of energy. Winter or summer, time spent at this glacial lake is exactly what you make of it, so plan your days and make it the best vacation you could imagine.

Things to do at Lake of the Woods MB

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Tubing
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake of the Woods MB

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Crappie
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sauger
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sturgeon
  • Walleye

Lake of the Woods MB Photo Gallery

Lake of the Woods MB Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: International Lake of the Woods Control Board

Surface Area: 950,400 acres

Shoreline Length: 25,000 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,060 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 1,056 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,062 feet

Average Depth: 26 feet

Maximum Depth: 210 feet

Water Volume: 15,700,000 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 27,200 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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