Lake Wildwood, Illinois, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Illinois - Central -

Build it and they will come’ is the true story behind Lake Wildwood in Central Illinois. As the population grew in the 1960s and 1970s, developers found a willing market for new lakefront developments. A new lake on the mostly lake-less prairie southwest of Chicago would be a welcome attraction to city-dwellers wanting a place to get away from the urban hustle-and-bustle. A dam was built across small Shaw Creek in a natural depression, and Lake Wildwood was born. Although Lake Wildwood shares the Varna, Illinois zip code, the lake’s population soon outgrew the small village of Varna, with over 400 residences among the development’s 1400 acres.

Lake Wildwood is a planned community governed by a property owners’ association which oversees all aspects of living at the lake. The 220-acre lake is open to all residents and their guests, with the association maintaining two sandy beaches with lifeguards for residents who don’t own waterfront property. All members pay dues to the association which cover such things as five boat launch ramps, an outdoor pool, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, marina, golf practice range, fish cleaning facility, hiking trails and a lodge for group activities.

Lake Wildwood is an all-sports lake; members can enjoy water skiing, tubing, personal watercraft and pontooning. A second lake on the property, 18-acre Lake Tanglewood, is strictly a fishing and paddle-sports lake: only electric motors are allowed. Lake Tanglewood is small enough that it usually freezes over in winter, allowing for ice fishing. Unusual for lake developments, Lake Wildwood offers a private campground for residents to enjoy near Lake Tanglewood. This feature is extremely popular; residents must often wait their turn to enjoy a few nights under the stars in the full-service campground or the more primitive camp area.

In keeping with the ‘get-away’ ambiance at Lake Wildwood, fishing is a popular activity. The Association regularly works to improve fish habitat and stocks the lake according to surveyed needs. Anglers pursue largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, crappie, bluegill,sunfish, channel catfish, white bass, bullhead, carp, flathead catfish, hybrid striped bass, muskie and northern pike. The many coves shelter fishermen and paddle sport enthusiasts from the busier main body of the lake. The marina rents boat slips and sells bait, snacks and convenience foods.

Non-fishermen enjoy having the three-hole practice range nearby to work on improving their golf game, and nature lovers enjoy marked trails and the quiet park areas left in their natural state for the enjoyment of the residents. The quiet streets are ideal for walkers and bicycles. Golf carts shuttle those with limited mobility around the neighborhoods. The entire development is well-treed, and the many areas left undeveloped make it a natural wildlife refuge. Nature lovers often observe wild turkey, fox, hawks, pheasants, deer, owls, geese, ducks, great blue herons, bluebirds, raccoons, coyotes and other native species. Wildflowers and mushrooms are also abundant. Every spring, the National Audubon Society goes to Lake Wildwood to do a bird count. Several rare birds, including eagles, have been spotted.

A sense of community is fostered by Association-planned seasonal events such as Easter egg hunts, picnics, fishing derbies, 4th of July fireworks, dances, swim parties, potlucks, Christmas party and fish fry. Arrowhead Lodge is the location for many Association events, and is also available for private member parties. With all of these amenities, it is hard to imagine anyone would want to leave Lake Wildwood. But residents often make the trip to nearby historic Henry on the Illinois River to enjoy old-fashioned ice cream socials, or to Peoria for the Waterfront Festival or to try their luck at the riverboat casino. A number of small towns within 15 miles offer golf courses, movies, restaurants and festivals. Farm markets and antique shops are found throughout the area.

Property owners at Lake Wildwood are a mix of seasonal and year-round residents. Only a couple of hours southwest of Chicago, Lake Wildwood is ideal for the weekend getaway, but many find the lake an ideal place to retire. Those who make the lake their permanent home enjoy the many recreational opportunities in the surrounding area. Boating enthusiasts enjoy boating on the Illinois River, with public launch sites at Lacon, only 15 minutes away. Public docks at Peoria to the south and Henry to the north assure boaters easy access to these river towns. Farther upriver, the spectacular sandstone bluffs of Starved Rock near Utica provide photographic opportunities unmatched anywhere in the region. Starved Rock State Park draws many visitors who enjoy exploring the unique geology along the Illinois River. Waterfalls and 18 canyons carved out of the sandstone bluffs by glaciers and stream erosion make the scenic area very popular with hikers and nature lovers. Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area nearer to Lake Wildwood offers miles of Illinois backwater habitat popular with bird watchers and hunters in season. Both areas offer campgrounds.

Vacation lodgings at Lake Wildwood are few and far between. Occasionally the lucky visitor may find a private cottage available for seasonal rental. Real estate sales are more numerous, both existing homes and property that can be developed. The gated community is entirely private with no public access, and one must be a ‘guest’ of a property owner to reach the water. Those lucky enough to be invited here soon find themselves searching the real estate advertisements looking to buy, because Lake Wildwood has developed into the perfect getaway place to call home. You need to come here to experience it!

Things to do at Lake Wildwood IL

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Hunting
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Antiquing
  • Casino Gambling

Fish species found at Lake Wildwood IL

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • White Bass

Lake Wildwood IL Photo Gallery

Lake Wildwood IL Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Lake Wildwood Association

Surface Area: 220 acres

Shoreline Length: 7 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 575 feet

Maximum Depth: 62 feet

Completion Year: 1967

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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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