Rend Lake, Illinois, USA

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

If you’re considering Rend Lake vacation rentals, we’ve made it super easy to explore accommodations and nearby hotels using the interactive map below. Simply click on a listing to compare similar properties, best rates and availability for your dates. Or keep scrolling to read our Rend Lake guide!

Rend Lake visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - Illinois - Southern -

Rend Lake, located in southern Illinois, is a fantastic place to enjoy all sorts of outdoor recreational activities. This reservoir, the second largest artificial lake in the state, covers an area of nearly 19,000 acres and is a perfect place for fishing, boating, and other outdoor sports.

Rend Lake was created in the 1970’s, when the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers dammed the Big Muddy River, creating a reservoir three miles wide and thirteen miles long. The lake was completed in 1973, providing flood control, water to nearby communities, fish and wildlife conservation, and recreation.

Rend Lake has much to offer visitors. It is a popular lake for fishing, and has a large population of crappies, channel catfish, bass, and bluegill. Don’t like fishing? There’s still tons to do. You can go jet skiing or water skiing, or simply cruise around the lake on a boat. With a marina and a couple dozen boat ramps, the lake is well set up for all those who want to enjoy its splendors. And, if you’re hankering for a swim, there are several beaches where you can enjoy taking a dip in the cool waves. Lake accommodations include five public campgrounds with close to 800 sites, RV parks, lakefront cabin rentals, and a resort and conference center.

One of the best places to enjoy Rend Lake is the 3,000-acre Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Area. There’s nothing better than enjoying a picnic in the great outdoors with friends and family, and the park is well able to accommodate you with over 150 picnicking sites. In addition, the Recreation Area is a haven for wildlife of all types, and nature lovers will enjoy spotting herons, eagles, deer, raccoons, and opossums. There are also several trails on which to walk, bike, or ride horseback. And hunters will enjoy the many hunting opportunities at the Recreation Area and at other locations near Rend Lake.

As if all the lakeside activities weren’t enough, nearby towns contain yet more attractions. Benton has a wide variety of entertainment – movie theaters, an opera house, bowling, and more. The town of Sesser has a family fun park with mini-golf, batting cages, and go-carts. And for the avid golfer, a highly rated 27-hold golf course is nearby.

One thing’s for sure: whether you’re busy with a game of golf, hiking along a nature trail, cruising through Rend Lake’s waters, or fishing for the “big one,” there’s always plenty to do at Rend Lake!

Custom Rend Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Rend Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Movie Theater

Fish species found at Rend Lake

  • Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Sunfish

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Rend Lake

The Rend 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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Rend Lake photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Rend Lake statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: U.S. Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 18,900 acres

Shoreline Length: 162 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 405 feet

Average Depth: 10 feet

Maximum Depth: 35 feet

Water Volume: 184,675 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1973

Drainage Area: 488 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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