Sparkling Lake, Wisconsin, USA
Welcome to the ultimate guide to Sparkling Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!
Topics we cover in this article:
- All About Sparkling Lake
- Things to Do
- Fish Species
- Where to Stay
- Vacation Planning Tools
- Sparkling Lake Map
- Statistics / Weather / Helpful Links
- Shop Sparkling Lake Gifts
Looking for Sparkling Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.
All About Sparkling Lake
In an area with an extraordinary number of lakes, Sparkling Lake sometimes slips under the radar. The lakes in Wisconsin’s Lake Superior Northwoods Region have been famous for over a hundred years as fishing and vacation destinations. And no county is known to have more lakes than Vilas County. So it is no surprise that few have heard of Sparkling Lake. Those lucky enough to have cottages along its shores likely want to keep their slice of Heaven a secret.
Located across the road from larger Trout Lake and only 15 miles from Boulder Junction, Sparkling Lake is small as Wisconsin lakes go. Only 157 acres, this sandy-bottom lake reaches 60 feet in depth and has a shoreline of over two miles. A few private cottages are located on the northwest shore. The rest of the area is now enclosed within the Northern Highlands American Legion State Forest. No campsites are available on Sparkling Lake, but two public boat access locations along the eastern shoreline allow for visiting boaters to enjoy the waters.
Fishing has always been a favored activity at Sparkling Lake. The waters hold largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, musky, walleye and panfish such as bluegills, perch, and sunfish. Ice fishing is nearly as popular as summer angling, and knowledgeable fishermen head to Sparkling Lake regularly on good fishing days. Although larger boats are permitted on Sparkling Lake, the public boat launch sites are not suitable for ski boats. One launch is designated a hand-carried boat launch site. Bigger Trout Lake across the highway offers more space for water sports.
Sparkling Lake’s fishery has recently recovered from a major invasion of rusty crayfish which nearly devastated the fishing. Rusty crayfish are an invasive species that severely damage the aquatic vegetation needed by smaller fish to breed and hide from predators. They also eat fish eggs and bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Panfish numbers decline, so larger predator fish such as walleye, bass and musky have nothing to eat. Sparkling Lake was over-run with the rusty crayfish in the 1970s. Luckily, the lake is one of 11 lakes that have been part of a monitoring project by the North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research Program operated by the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Limnology.
In 2001, the Center began an experiment of intensive trapping of the invaders while limiting the catch numbers of their chief predators, the smallmouth bass. The state DNR (Department of Natural Resources) also stocked large numbers of larger young walleyes to further feast on the crayfish. After four years, surveys showed that the crayfish were considerably reduced in number. Aquatic plant life rebounded, as did the numbers of bluegill and pumpkinseed which prey on juvenile rusty crayfish. The fishery has improved considerably. The management plan will now be used to attempt to rid other lakes of an overabundance of rusty crayfish.
Living or vacationing at Sparkling Lake puts the entire family in range of a wide variety of outdoor activities. The Northern Highlands American Legion State Forest has numerous bike trails and hiking trails, cross-country ski trails and snowmobile trails. Streams within the forest area are open for canoeing, and both modern and rustic campgrounds offer a camping experience to fit every desire. Boulder Junction serves as the main shopping center for the local area and has a variety of lodging choices as well as restaurants and cafes. The mainstay of the economy in Vilas County is recreation, so there are always numerous festivals and events going on to attract a crowd. Between fishing tournaments, triathlons, boat races, lumberjack exhibitions, carnivals and ethnic festivals, visitors are sometimes hard-pressed to choose between two equally attractive diversions for the weekend.
Numerous resorts, fishing camps and guest cabins offer every type of lodging in the area. Small motels provide economical overnight accommodations, while bed & breakfasts and inns provide special interest stays for such activities as photography or gourmet cooking. Several museums show visitors how the local residents lived in the past during the lumbering era and the fur-trapping period. Guide services provide the perfect fishing trip for that trophy musky or to fish the idyllic trout stream. Golf courses abound, and special golf vacations are easily arranged. A casino, zipline facility, guided snowmobile tours, bluegrass jamborees, ice skating shows, and even an ‘adult prom’ keep activities varied and interesting. It is no wonder real estate in the area is in high demand.
Summer brings waterski shows, farmers’ markets and food-related festivals. And every Friday, there is a fish fry somewhere. All kinds of special-interest sporting events, from pickleball to snowshoe softball are going on somewhere in Vilas County. Music festivals and concerts are a regular weekend occurrence. So much is going on in this vacation wonderland that visitors will occasionally be glad to simply spend a quiet evening in front of a campfire on the beach.
No matter what your interests or hobbies are, Sparkling Lake will allow you to indulge. The many trails within the Northern Highlands American Legion State Forest allow for nature study just a short distance from your cottage. Deer, raccoon, squirrel, fox and a large number of waterfowl and songbirds can be seen and photographed. Solitude is easy to find here, to clear the mind and refresh the soul.
There aren’t any commercial rental facilities currently on Sparkling Lake, but property owners will occasionally rent their cottages on a weekly basis to vacationers. These are often hard to find, but usually local real estate agents know which properties may be rented. Very often, a week’s vacation near Sparkling Lake will have renters looking to purchase their own slice of heaven. So, come to Sparkling Lake and see if this is the vacation place you’ve been looking for.
Things to Do at Sparkling Lake
- Vacation Rentals
- Fishing Tournaments
- Ice Fishing
- Water Skiing
- Cabin Rentals
- Ice Skating
- Wildlife Viewing
- State Forest
- Casino Gambling
Fish Species Found at Sparkling Lake
- Black Bass
- Largemouth Bass
- Smallmouth Bass
Find Places to Stay at Sparkling Lake
If you’re considering a Sparkling Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.
Recommended Sites to Book a Sparkling Lake Vacation
If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Sparkling Lake lodging partners.
- VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
- Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
- Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
- Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
- TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
- Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
- KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
- RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
- CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.
Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.
Sparkling Lake Statistics & Helpful Links
Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed
Surface Area: 157 acres
Shoreline Length: 3 miles
Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,631 feet
Average Depth: 35 feet
Maximum Depth: 60 feet
Trophic State: Oligotrophic
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