Pelican Lake-Crow Wing County, Minnesota, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Central -

Long a traditional vacation lake in Minnesota’s Central region, Pelican Lake is the second-largest lake in the Brainerd Lakes area. Over 8,000 acres of water recreation have been attracting lakelubbers to the area for at least 100 years. Pelican lake, in Crow Wing County, was one of the first to offer resort properties and vacation rentals to vacationers heading north to escape the city heat each summer. In the early part of the last century, personalities such as Clark Gable and Carole Lombard vacationed here. At one time, the nearly 23-mile shoreline was dotted with groups of housekeeping cabins and fishing lodges. Now, most have been replaced with increasingly upscale summer and year-round homes. Even the remaining resorts have changed, although some thing remain the same: Pelican Lake is still noted for exceedingly clear water, great fishing, and tons of water-based recreation.

All types of water sports are enjoyed at Pelican Lake: power boating, waterskiing, tubing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, sailing, pontooning, canoeing and kayaking all take place here. A public swimming beach at the Pelican Beach Day-Use Area on the southeastern shore gives visitors access to the refreshing waters, with restrooms and a picnic area. Four public boat launch sites and a privately-owned marina offer plenty of places to launch private boats. The marina also rents all kinds of boats: canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, 14-foot fishing boats with motors, and deluxe pontoons for family excursions. For those who prefer to let an experienced captain handle the navigation, a 100-passenger paddle-wheeler takes sightseers on two-hour cruises several times each week. The paddle-wheeler is also available for chartered dinner cruises and corporate and family events. Fishing guides can also be engaged at the marina. And Pelican Lake’s famed walleye fishing draws many anglers who engage their services.

Walleye thrive in Pelican Lake. In fact, the lake is known as one of Minnesota’s best walleye fishing lakes. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources stocks walleye regularly in the lake, where they appear anxious to do battle with fishermen. Several things make Pelican Lake such a superb fishing lake. The exceedingly clear water allows light penetration – and therefore aquatic vegetation growth – as deep as 26 feet. The lake bottom is anything but flat, with many holes and ridges providing excellent cover for breeding and fishing. Bluegill, cisco, crappie, largemouth bass, northern pike, sunfish, walleye, yellow perch and rock bass are all caught here, giving the lake a word-of-mouth reputation as an angler’s dream lake. Fishing tournaments are regularly held on Pelican Lake. In fact, winter is nearly as productive as summer, with an entire village of ice fishing shanties on productive coves and above certain ridges. Ice shanties, called fish houses, can be rented from the resort that owns the marina.

Most of the shoreline of Pelican Lake is privately-owned and developed with cottages and homes. Two long-time resorts have managed to weather the transition from resort lake to residential. One is still the older-style family housekeeping cottages with a shallow beach great for families with children. The resort has been a tradition for many families through several generations. These repeat visitors often schedule their favorite cottage a year in advance. Other, similar resorts can be found along the roads circling Pelican Lake, but are actually on other, nearby lakes on the opposite side of the road.

The other long-lived resort has evolved into a full-service resort community, complete with elegant lodge, golf course, condos and residential rentals, timeshares, RV park with deeded lots, and permanent homes. The lodge serves excellent country-club-style meals. The small City of Breezy Point has grown near this resort. The village was originally called Pelican Lake, but the other Pelican Lake in Otter-Tail County and Pelican Rapids confused items addressed to Pelican Lake. The town eventually decided to become Breezy Point. It is difficult to tell where the city ends and the resort begins as many activities involve both. An indoor ice arena is managed by the resort and sponsors an amateur hockey team and youth hockey camps. In the immediate area are facilities for biking, hunting, antiquing, horseback riding, and snowmobiling. In fact, the resort rents snowmobiles and produces a full range of winter activities to keep both visitors and locals amused.

One of the more curious activities is a ‘snow golf’ course on frozen Pelican Lake, which may be six or nine holes, depending on how many fish houses are in place when it is laid out. Players use regular clubs to hit green-tinted tennis balls across (dyed) ‘greens’, ‘tree-lined’ fairways, and between some highly unusual hazards. There is usually someone taking photographs of these intrepid golfers. The annual Ice Fest includes such activities as an ice slide, broomball tournament, horse and dog sleigh rides, power ice auger world championships, bonfires, fireworks and much more. Other winter activities in the area include a nearby downhill ski area with ski lessons, snow-making capabilities, and equipment rental. The Tubing Hill near the resort provides a tow rope to tow tube-riders to the top so they can navigate their tubes downhill.

Pelican Lake certainly isn’t the only lake in the Brainerd Lakes area, but is likely one of the most popular. Located about 140 miles from both Duluth and Minneapolis-St Paul, Pelican Lake is the perfect distance for a weekend getaway or a summer home. The entire Brainerd Lakes area holds a wealth of activities and services for tourists and holiday visitors. Scores of lakes, small and large, dot the landscape, offering water sports, fishing and vacation getaways. During the summer season, there is always a fair or festival going on in the immediate area. Campgrounds can be found nearby on other, smaller lakes in the area. A section of the Superior National Forest is within a few miles of Pelican Lake and offers plentiful hiking and wildlife watching opportunities. Between the variety of lodgings and available real estate in the area, every lakelubber can find the perfect Pelican Lake retreat. So, come for a week, stay for a lifetime.

Things to do at Pelican Lake-Crow Wing County

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • National Forest
  • Antiquing

Fish species found at Pelican Lake-Crow Wing County

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Cisco
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Pelican Lake-Crow Wing County Photo Gallery

Pelican Lake-Crow Wing County Statistics & Helpful Links

divider

Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 8,253 acres

Shoreline Length: 23 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,208 feet

Average Depth: 22 feet

Maximum Depth: 102 feet

Spread the word! Share our Pelican Lake-Crow Wing County 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.