Rainy Lake, Minnesota USA & Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - Ontario - USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Northeast -

Rainy Lake’s sprawling 221,000 acres straddle the border of the United States and Canada. Known as a water sports lover’s paradise, Rainy Lake is located in the Northeastern Region of Minnesota near International Falls and Ranier. Canada’s portion of Rainy Lake consists of 75% of this massive body of water, while the United States is home to the remaining 25%. With so much water it is no wonder sports enthusiasts are drawn to this recreational wonderland. Activities on and around the lake include boating, canoeing, kayaking, camping, swimming, hiking, and fishing.

Rainy Lake is a glacier-formed natural lake that was dammed in both the USA and Canada. Fort Frances-International Falls Dam was built in 1909, while the Kettle Falls Dam was built in 1914. Each dam is controlled by Boise Cascade Corporation in the United States and Abitibi Consolidated Inc. in Canada.

Not only does Rainy Lake boast of having 929 miles of exterior shoreline, its water also laps against 635 miles of shoreline around 1,600 islands. With so much lakefront property, real estate and vacation rentals are plentiful to suit everyone’s taste, including homes, cabins, cottages, and houseboats. Home owners or guests can soothe away their cares as they enjoy the sun setting over Rainy Lake from their lakeview deck. Two other lakes – Kabetogama and Namakan – adjoin Rainy Lake, while the 80-mile-long Rainy River provides a connection to Lake of the Woods.

Rainy Lake offers access to Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota’s only national park. Start your adventure at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center east of International Falls. The Center offers a free boat ramp for visitors who want to launch their own boat, canoe or kayak. The Center also offers guided boat tours during the summer, searching for wildlife and stopping at Little American Island to explore the 1890’s Rainy Lake gold rush. When the waters of Rainy Lake freeze, visitors can reach Voyageurs National Park by driving across plowed roads on the lake, or they can travel by snowmobiles, cross-country skis, or snowshoes. Once in Voyageurs National Park, nature lovers can pitch their tents on designated park islands. While camping, observant watchers may spot loons, eagles, otters, deer, black bear, or moose.

Sandpoint Island Provincial Park is on the Canadian side of the lake. Accessible only by boat, the Park offers beach swimming, hiking, and wildlife viewing, but has no visitor facilities.

Regarded as an angler’s paradise and one of the most scenic fishing destinations in the United States, Rainy Lake is known to be one of the world’s top multi-species fisheries. Rainy Lake boasts large populations of northern pike, black crappie, walleye, sauger, and smallmouth bass. In 2006 Rainy Lake was, for the third time, selected as the site of the prestigious Governor’s Fishing Opener, attracting large numbers of pro and amateur anglers. Anglers also enjoy fishing from nearby Rainy River which is another world-class fishery. The 80-mile long river offers the largest spring walleye spawning run in the world. There are public boat accesses to both Rainy Lake and Rainy River, and they are open to boats, canoes, and kayaks.

Sightseers may want to plan a trip to nearby International Falls and the little resort village of Ranier in their Rainy Lake travel plans. The towns offer restaurants, antique shops, and golf with beautiful views of the Rainy River. For those who take pleasure in observing nature while bicycling will find the Rainy Lake Bike Trail a satisfying diversion. The trail begins in International Falls and ends near the entrance to Voyageurs National Park. For additional activities that may be happening in the area, visitors should take a stop at the International Falls Visitor’s Bureau.

Since Rainy Lake is located on an international border, many visitors enjoy crossing into Canada or the United States via the International Bridge. When traveling from the United States, tourists must check in with Canadian Customs.

Vacation rentals and sales are available on Rainy Lake, so visitors can unwind in a lakefront home, rustic cabin, or just enjoy being close to nature at a lakeside campsite. Whether you choose to call Rainy Lake home, or you take delight in vacationing on this scenic lake, you are sure to find the natural beauty of Rainy Lake to be mesmerizing.

Things to do at Rainy Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Snowshoeing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Provincial Park
  • National Park
  • Antiquing

Fish species found at Rainy Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Crappie
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sauger
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Walleye

Rainy Lake Photo Gallery

Rainy Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Boise Cascade (USA); Abitibi Corp. (Canada)

Surface Area: 221,000 acres

Shoreline Length: 929 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,108 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 1,105 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,109 feet

Maximum Depth: 161 feet

Completion Year: 1909

Lake Area-Population: 20,000

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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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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