Lake Waubesa, Wisconsin, USA

Also known as:  Yahara Chain of Lakes

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Lake Waubesa.

If you’re considering Lake Waubesa vacation rentals, we’ve made it super easy to explore accommodations and nearby hotels using the interactive map below. Simply click on a listing to compare similar properties, best rates and availability for your dates. Or keep scrolling to read our Lake Waubesa guide!

Lake Waubesa visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - Wisconsin - Southern Savanna Region -

Dane County in south central Wisconsin has plenty of water for recreation. There are 37 lakes and 475 miles of streams and rivers including 14 miles of the Wisconsin River. Four of Dane County’s lakes near Madison are linked together in a chain by the Yahara River. Called the Yahara Lakes or Yahara Chain, the lakes include Lake Mendota, Lake Monona, Lake Waubesa and Lake Kegonsa. At just over 2,000 acres, Lake Waubesa is the smallest of the four lakes.

All the Yahara Lakes were formed during the last Ice Age when the glacier that moved across Wisconsin left deposits of rocks, sand, and silt. The debris dammed parts of an old river valley that many believe was the ancient Wisconsin River. The Yahara Lakes are natural lakes, but there are dams and locks to help control water levels and for navigation. The Babcock Park Lock and Dam, completed in 1938 and owned by Dane County, controls the water levels for both Lake Waubesa and Lake Monona. Water levels on Lake Waubesa and the other Yahara Lakes are set by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and maintained by the Dane County Public Works. Control is tight and there is only a six inch difference in winter and summer water levels on Lake Waubesa. The lake freezes in mid to late December and remains frozen until the end of March.

Waubesa is the Chippewa word for “swan.” The lake got its name from the story of a settler who killed an exceptionally large swan in the area. In addition to the Chippewa and Winnebago Indians there is evidence of the “mound builders” around Lake Waubesa. On the eastern shore, the Village of McFarland is one of the first settlements around Lake Waubesa. It was a small resort community with Edwards Park near the lake in the early 1900’s. Prior to 1900 fish harvesting and ice cutting were important industries. The Knickerbocker Company cut ice on Lake Waubesa, packed it in sawdust and stored it until June when it was shipped south by rail. Today McFarland is home to McDaniel Park. With two pebble beaches the Park is popular with swimmers and a good place to launch canoes and kayaks. It is also home base for the Waubesa Sailing Club.

Lake Waubesa is a productive warm water fishery with large populations of pan fish. There are bluegill, crappie, and large and small mouth bass. There are also walleye, northern pike and muskie present. Anglers can fish from a boat or from the shore. Babcock Park, on the eastern side of Lake Waubesa at the outflow of the Yahara River, has a public boat launch, fishing pier and fish cleaning station. Named for Wisconsin dairy scientist Stephen Babcock, the park also has a full service campground with bathrooms and showers. There are several other boat ramps and full service marinas. Much of the shoreline is public land with only a few piers to mar the view.

Lake Waubesa has almost a thousand acres of wetlands. Upper Mud Lake on the northern side of the lake is a fantastic place to bird watch. Between Lake Waubesa and Lake Monona, Upper Mud Lake is the home of lots of migratory waterfowl.

Accommodations on Lake Waubesa range from campgrounds to resorts. In addition to all the amenities of McFarland including restaurants, shopping and accommodations, the lake is very close to Madison. Madison is the capital of Wisconsin and its second largest city with all the amenities and cultural opportunities of a city that size.

The Yahara Chain lakes and Lake Waubesa in particular combine very accessible water, abundant fishing, and cultural opportunities, making it a great Wisconsin getaway with something to please everyone.

Custom Lake Waubesa house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Lake Waubesa

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Waubesa

  • Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Waubesa

The Lake Waubesa map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Lake Waubesa photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Lake Waubesa statistics & helpful links

divider

Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Surface Area: 2,050 acres

Shoreline Length: 9 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 846 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 844 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 847 feet

Average Depth: 14 feet

Maximum Depth: 34 feet

Water Volume: 30,689 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: .22 year

Lake Area-Population: 7,336

Trophic State: Eutrophic

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

Advertise your Lake Waubesa vacation rental

LakeLubbers will soon offer homeowners and property managers the opportunity to to showcase their vacation rentals to the thousands of lake lovers searching our site daily for accommodations. If you’d like additional details, please contact our advertising team here.

divider

Looking for the Lake Waubesa forum?

LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here.

We also encourage you to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook and Instagram!

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