Monroe Lake, Indiana, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Indiana - South Central -

Also known as:  Monroe Reservoir, Lake Monroe

The largest lake in Indiana, Monroe Lake is also one of the state’s most scenic. Set among the rolling wooded hills, limestone bluffs overlook the 10,000+-acre reservoir built to control flooding. The reservoir is the primary water source for the City of Bloomington. Monroe Lake Dam was built across Salt Creek by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1965 and has developed into a premier recreational lake. Less than ten miles from Bloomington, home of Indiana University, Monroe Lake one of the most popular summertime destinations in South Central Indiana. Sprawled across portions of Brown, Jackson and Monroe counties, Monroe Lake provides boating, fishing, swimming and all types of outdoor recreation along its 190-mile shoreline. The State of Indiana took full advantage of the new reservoir’s recreational possibilities by creating three areas of public lands that can be accessed for camping, swimming, boat access and exploration. The entire shoreline is owned by the US Army Corps. The reservoir and adjacent recreational areas receive over a million-and-a-half visitors a year.

The vast reservoir is a fishing hot spot with good populations of crappie, bluegill, hybrid striper, walleye, catfish, yellow perch, panfish and largemouth bass. Several public boat launch sites plus fishing docks provide plenty of access for anglers. The fishing docks are attractive to those with children and the disabled, giving everyone a chance to get in on the fun. The Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources maintains a scientifically-balanced stocking program and stocks walleye and hybrid stripers regularly. Other access for boats is available at marinas, some of which rent fishing boats. Bass fishing tournaments are held at the lake several times each season. Two swimming beaches are available on state-owned land and are often very busy on hot summer weekends. Both provide picnic areas, shelters and rest rooms. A small fee is charged for each car entering these areas, although several of the boat launch facilities are free. The US Army Corps maintains a picnic area near the dam and hiking trails in the tailwater area.

Monroe Lake is available for all types of water sports. A marina located at the Paynetown State Recreation Area rents every type of watercraft from ski boats, fishing boats, pontoons, jet skis, double-decker pontoons, canoes, kayaks and water sport accessories. Several camping areas are provided on public lands surrounding the lake, with others located nearby. On the southwest shore of the lake, the nearly 13,00-acre Charles C. Dean Wilderness Area offers hiking, horseback riding and primitive camping in a completely wheel-free area: trails are groomed via mule. The Wilderness Area is located within a section of the Hoosier National Forest which surrounds much of the eastern portion of the reservoir and abuts the Brown County State Park. Much of the area is available for hunting during season with appropriate permits. A resort concession has been developed along with southwest shoreline with excellent swimming beach, full-service marina, hotel and fine dining. A PGA-rated golf course is nearby.

Monroe Lake adds a crowning touch to an already popular recreational area. Nearby Bloomington offers all of the usual delights of a college town with plenty of nightlife, galleries, performance arts, museums and sporting events. The ice arena is a major draw during the winter months. Just northeast of Brown County State Park, the small town of Nashville was ranked number 6 on the Midwest Living Magazine list of the best small-town getaways. Home of a growing and thriving arts colony since 1907, Nashville is filled with craft shops, art galleries, theater performances, a dance barn and a Bluegrass Park. Nashville is worthy of a vacation weekend in itself as the area is reputed to contain over 350 shops.

This area of Indiana was originally home to the Miami and Delaware tribes of Native Americans, Purchased by the United States government as a part of Harrison’s Purchase under the Treaty of Fort Wayne, the wooded hills provided large amounts of timber for building purposes. The area was officially opened to settlers in 1815, but it is likely a number of European trappers and hunters were already utilizing the area as the wooded hills and many creeks offered plentiful game and fur-bearing animals. Salt deposits in the area were mined commercially and shipped down the local Salt Creek, known for its high salt content.

This area is also famous for the beautiful Indiana Limestone which was quarried and shipped to Chicago, Louisville and even farther afield to build many of the historic buildings and courthouses in the Midwest. Soils in the area are relatively shallow, and farming became unproductive after a few years of intense tillage. Much land reverted to the government for unpaid taxes. The area is covered in second-growth forest and is part of the largest contiguous forest area in Indiana. The wooded covering provides excellent refuge for whitetail deer and small game. The deer were actually re-introduced as they had been depleted in the area due to earlier hunting. Eagles, turkeys, raptors and a variety of song birds are making amazing progress in repopulating the natural landscape.

The Monroe Reservoir area is a highly desirable area for both vacationing visitors and year-round residents. Proximity to Bloomington and Indiana University assures lodgings are always available in the form of hotels, motels and private rentals. Although these do not overlook the lake itself, they are a few short miles away. Bed-and-breakfast facilities in the Nashville area are highly attractive to antique hunters, trekkers and hikers. The quiet country roads are ideal for cycling. The entire area is very popular for geocaching and orienteering with several organized groups in the Bloomington area. Vacation rentals and lodgings are therefore plentiful, but should be reserved well in advance around holidays and summer week-ends. Real estate is often available near the lake, although not on the lake itself. Monroe Lake will exceed all expectations as a fun-filled destination whether for a week or a lifetime. So, come and explore Monroe Lake-you’ll be hooked, and so will those fish!

Things to do at Monroe Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • National Forest
  • Museum
  • Antiquing

Fish species found at Monroe Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Monroe Lake Photo Gallery

Monroe Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

divider

Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 10,750 acres

Shoreline Length: 190 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 538 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 556 feet

Average Depth: 25 feet

Maximum Depth: 55 feet

Water Volume: 182,250 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1965

Water Residence Time: 231 days

Drainage Area: 441 sq. miles

Trophic State: Mesoeutrophic

Spread the word! Share our Monroe Lake 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.