Otter Tail Lake, Minnesota, USA

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

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Otter Tail Lake visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Central -

With over 13,000 acres of water and 22 miles of shoreline, Otter Tail Lake is the largest lake in Otter Tail County and is located in the Central tourism region of Minnesota. Otter Tail Lake is part of the Otter Tail River Chain of Lakes which also includes Rush, Big Pine, Little Pine, Deer, East Lost, and West Lost Lakes. Although Otter Tail Lake is a natural lake, the waters are regulated by Otter Tail Lake Dam which is a self-regulating dam. Public access can be found off county Highway 78 along the east shoreline, County Highway 72 along the west shoreline, and County Road 1 along the north shoreline. Lake levels generally do not fluctuate more than four feet.

Originally called “Lac de la Queue de la Outer” which translates Lake of the Otters Tail by early explorers, it is now believed to be called Otters Tail by the sand bar shaped like an otter’s tail where the Otter Tail River enters Otter Tail Lake. The sand bar can still be seen on the northeast end of the lake. The area surrounding the lake is rooted in history. The chain of lakes was the best method of transportation, and trading posts were set up near Otter Tail Lake. Now the majority of the shoreline of Otter Tail Lake is surrounded by residential and commercial development. Whether lake visitors want a weekend getaway or a permanent residence, they will find what they are looking for on the shores of Otter Tail Lake.

Otter Tail Lake is a popular destination for both open water and winter angling. Although known as a walleye fishing spot, yellow perch have been very abundant and of a good size. Other game fish of interest are northern pike, rock bass, and yellow bullhead catfish. When the lake freezes over for the winter, ice fishing becomes a favorite pastime.

Amor Park, located on the north shore of Otter Tail Lake, is a popular swimming and picnicking site. The county park provides a swimming beach, picnic tables, picnic shelter, restrooms, and playground equipment. What better way to spend a beautiful Minnesota summer day than relaxing on a sandy beach, taking a dip in cooling waters, and enjoying your favorite summer foods?

Otter Tail Lake visitors will enjoy a visit to Phelps Mill, located in nearby Fergus Falls. The mill was built in the late 1800s and featured a general store, cheese factory, and restaurant and blacksmith shop. Now Phelps Mill is a symbol of old rural life and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Phelps Mill is now owned by Otter Tail County and is used as a recreational site. In addition, the Otter Trail Scenic Byway guides travelers over 150 miles of driving trails with scenic beauty and wildlife viewing.

Other recreational opportunities at Otter Tail Lake include boating, jet skiing, sailing, swimming, camping, as well as a round of golf. Lakeside resorts, cabins, and vacation homes are available for rent. And for those who like to camp, there is a choice of primitive camping as well as RV camping with electrical hook up and sewer hook ups. Otter Tail Lake provides numerous dining and shopping opportunities.

Lake visitors will enjoy making Otter Tail Lake a repeated vacation spot. Start planning your trip today by booking one of the many vacation rentals that line the shoreline.

Custom Otter Tail Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Otter Tail Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Jet Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Playground
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Otter Tail Lake

  • Bass
  • Bullhead Catfish
  • Catfish
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Bullhead
  • Yellow Perch

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Otter Tail Lake

The Otter Tail Lake 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.

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Otter Tail Lake photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Otter Tail Lake statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Surface Area: 13,725 acres

Shoreline Length: 22 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,321 feet

Average Depth: 15 feet

Maximum Depth: 120 feet

Water Volume: 506,000 acre-feet

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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