Lake Thunderbird, Illinois, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Illinois - Northern - Western -

Nestled in the rural Illinois woods, Lake Thunderbird is set in Putnam County, the smallest county in Illinois. The lake, located on the border of the Northern and Western tourism regions, was originally built in 1970 by the American Central Corporation in response to America’s urbanization. Families sought to escape the big cities for weekend retreats, and creating Lake Thunderbird was the answer.

Set in the Illinois River Valley, Lake Thunderbird’s 115-acre body of water has a maximum depth of 66 feet with an average depth settling around 35 feet. Nearly 500 homes are scattered around the lake’s eight miles of shoreline. The lake has 1,900 total lots, with real estate available, and accommodates anyone looking for a year-round retreat or a vacation rental.

Rolling hills and valleys dominate much of Lake Thunderbird’s landscape, which makes it easy to find activities during any time of the year. Miles of parks and trails entice both hikers and mountain bikers to run or pedal across the winding terrain. Nature walks and playgrounds make for an easy hike with small children who can scamper about while chasing a butterfly.

Those who are members of the Lake Thunderbird Association, or are guests of members, can enjoy the lake’s clubhouse or pristine beach in the summer months. Fire up the grill in the picnic area while the rest of the family splashes about in the sectioned-off swimming area at the lake’s beach, or grab a bite to eat at the “snack shack.” Adrenaline junkies can get their fix by flying across Lake Thunderbird’s shimmering waters while waterskiing, wakeboarding, or tubing. Deck boat and pontoon boat owners proceed at a slower pace but have parties at full swing atop their decks. Trade tips and meet new home owners and vacationers at the southern shore’s boat launch, a busy hotspot during the hot summer months.

If fishing is your forte, slide your boat into the waters at dawn or dusk when other lake activities have settled down. Cast out your fishing line to find largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, crappie, bluegill, catfish, channel catfish and muskie in the lake. For those who wait patiently, prize fish, such as a 43-inch tiger muskie that an angler caught one year, can be caught along the rocky shoreline.

It may seem as if Lake Thunderbird is busier during the summer, but as the area cools off and leaves begin to change signaling the end of summer, residents pack on clothes and head outside to continue enjoy the lake’s amenities and its wildlife. Members are able to hunt deer around the lake. Others enjoy hiking through the colorful woods while wild turkey, bald eagles and raccoons quietly make their way through the forest. Songbirds add another dimension to the lake’s atmosphere if one stands quietly to enjoy their symphony.

Anyone wishing to hop out of Lake Thunderbird’s rural atmosphere and into some city life will find the city of Princeton less than 20 miles away. Window browse through specialty shops lined up along downtown or check out festivals and events occurring year round. The town offers a variety of parks and nature trails to keep your muscles moving while traveling.

Closer to Lake Thunderbird is the Miller-Anderson Woods Nature Preserve and Senachwine Lake. The nature preserve is located to the northeast of the lake and encompasses over 300 acres of old-growth oak hickory forest with prairies full of lush vegetation. Senachwine Lake, located seven miles to the east of Lake Thunderbird, is a 3,324-acre lake filled with a variety of fish for anglers and birds for watchers.

Keep Lake Thunderbird in mind as a destination to live year-round or to simply escape the fast pace city life. The lake offers ice skating and cross country skiing during the winter, while summer provides clean beaches for suntanning and open waters for canoeing, waterskiing or fishing.

Things to do at Lake Thunderbird IL

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake Thunderbird IL

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Tiger Muskellunge
  • Walleye

Lake Thunderbird IL Photo Gallery

    Lake Thunderbird IL Statistics & Helpful Links

    divider

    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Lake Thunderbird Association

    Surface Area: 115 acres

    Shoreline Length: 8 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 591 feet

    Average Depth: 35 feet

    Maximum Depth: 66 feet

    Water Volume: 4,025 acre-feet

    Completion Year: 1970

    Lake Area-Population: 500

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

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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."


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.